New to Siberian Iris --advice?

sujiwan_gwMarch 17, 2009

So far, my only experience has been with bearded iris (a little).

I have a long ditch that feeds a permanent stream--the ditch always has some level of water in it. I was thinking I'd like to try the Siberian or Japanese iris in this location.

Are these hardy enough to take an occasional zone 5 type winter? (admittedly we don't go way below zero often but it has happened).

My soil is about a 6.8. Is this acid enough?

Where is the best location for the iris? (Top of the 3 ft+ bank in the dryer section, halfway down or almost in the water?)

Is there any special way to set them in the ground, any required amendments for my situation (silty loam)?

Thanks very much for advice. I'm looking at ordering from Siberian Iris Gardens in NY.

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Hi sujiwan,

I'm going to answer this, and hope some others will come along and chime in. I am the owner of Siberian Iris Gardens. I laughed when I just happened to come over here and saw this, and then saw you were considering ordering from me.

I'm Z6a, and we have occassional Z5 winters. we used to be Z5 until the new USDA map came out.

Siberians are hardy to Z3, and Japanese to at least Z4. Both like mildly acidic soil, and anything below 7.0 will be fine, but I would recommend if you are planting JIs (Japanese) that you add a shovelful of peat to the planting hole, just to bring it down a little.

Now, as to where to plant them on the streambed, I would not put them down in the water. Japanese can be in standing water for quite sometime, sibs not as long, but neither can have freezing water over their crowns in the winter That will suffocate them, and cause the crown to rot.

Whether you choose to orde from me or not, I have fact sheets on ititial planting and long term care of siberian, Japanese and species beardless irises, I would be glad to email copies of to you, or anyone else that would like them.

Obviously you've seen my website, so if you have any questions for me, or would like copies of the fact sheets, just email me throught the website.

Polly @ Siberian Iris Gardens

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 10:52AM
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eroctuse2(z5 SE Michigan)

Hi sujiwan,

I agree with everything Polly's written and I'd like to add that the pseudatas that I see Polly also offers supposedly can overwinter in the water thanks to the I. pseudacorus in them.

Ensata gardens, here in MI, are reportedly the largest JI grower in the world outside of Japan and they're colder than I am here in 5b. So, your coldest shouldn't affect them at all.

You might also consider the Louisianas. They can be grown in the water as well and I grow an old stand by here named . It's always done well for everyone I know that's tried it here and that includes winters like this one past, during which we went to 20+ below with the windchill.

If you tried them all you could keep the SIBs at the top, the JIs mid-bank (as long as the water recedes over winter), and the LAs or pseudatas in the water. They'd bloom at different times too, so it would extend your season and add diversity.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 12:52PM
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Thanks Brock.

I'm not sure whether the pseudatas will survive in standing water over the winter or not, due to their Japanese iris breeding. I have someone that is going to trial it this coming winter. You think they will make it? I would be very happy if they did. That will give us something nice for ponds, and bogs, that's not invasive.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 8:26PM
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eroctuse2(z5 SE Michigan)

Hi Polly,

I haven't actually tried it myself, but to quote the inside back cover of the '09 Ensata catalog: "Pseudatas may be grown in ordinary garden soil or in wet bog conditions, even under water." They've been growing all of the Shimizu intros that Carol Warner lists for several years now (for the JI convention last year) and now offer them all for sale this year, so whatever they've tried hasn't killed them yet. :)

They're some of the most beautiful things I've seen and the fact that they've been sterile to date makes me think they'll be much less invasive for the average gardener than ol' pseudacorus.

There's no such thing as too vigorous in my book and as long as pseudacorus has been in my drier garden conditions it's never bullied the plants around it. I had to stop myself when I was bidding on the pseudatas at the local auctions as I realized I was bidding on a genetic dead end.

Jill Copeland divulged that she had at least one seedling move forward with another generation, so she may develop a fertile hybrid. That's great news to people like me that hope to take them further, but I'm fearful that people won't give them the chance they deserve if they think it will get out of hand.

Good luck with your trials.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 10:05PM
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Ensata has only had them as long as I have. We both got ours from Carol Warner the same year, 2007, so I don't think they know much more about the conditions they can grow under. I just love them.

If you like hybridizing, have you gotten Gubijin, the pseudacorus pod parent for those Shimizu pseudatas? Supposedly it crosses very easily with most diploid JIs.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 10:26PM
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eroctuse2(z5 SE Michigan)

Neat! I didn't realize Carol sent them out to so many people. Ensata's also introduced them over 10 years ago, so I didn't mean to say that they've only had these last few years of experience.

I don't have 'Gubijin' yet, but I plan to add it. Jill Copeland made the "mistake' of telling me (during a pseudata judges' training class) that when you cross it to the blue JIs you can get pseudatas similar to the SIB , instead of the purples, pinks, and golds. She's not interested in going that direction and I think she actually meant it as a warning, not a suggestion. :)

I'm crazy for the greyed, smoky colors and now I know how to get them in my pseudatas. When I think of what to work with, I'm really drawn to the medians and the species. I also want to work with giant TBs. TBs have unduly taken so much of the spotlight and have become so common that I'm hoping to explore the aspects that aren't so ho-hum in the iris world.

Now if only I could pick something to focus on... :)


    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 11:40PM
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I don't want to confuse Sujiwan by talking anymore about hybridizing. Brock, please email me throught the website if you get a chance.

Sujiwan, please don't let the talk of hybridizing confuse you. These irises are very easy to grow, and after you grow them a few years, and find out how easy they are, I'll bet you'll want to hybridize, too!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 10:24AM
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