keeping iris bed somewhat tidy

cookie44(z7a NVA)May 29, 2009

I recently bought a home and was lucky enough to inherit a bed of different colored bearded irises. It looks beautiful for the few weeks the irises are in bloom. I find, however, that it pretty much looks bad the whole rest of the year. I think this must be my fault as I am perhaps ignorant as to how to keep these plants looking somewhat tidy and what to cut or trim when. I know I probably need to divide the plants this year, even though I'm a little nervous I might ruin some of them.

Any tips of how to keep this bed looking nicer all year round?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
delightp(5/ IN)

Not sure if this opinion is "politically correct" for an iris forum, but my opinion is an iris only bed is naturally boring for most of the year.

I normally trim my iris back when the new foliage starts coming in (but i'm in zone 5 and your 7. My iris gets spring foliage then about this time of the year (during and after bloom) it just kind of sits there until fall when it starts making new leaves and thats when i start chopping.

Don't worry about hurting the iris when you divide just dig them up and start snapping apart the rhizomes. Someone else will have to tell you what to do if they are really compacted because I divide mine all the time so I do not have to deal with the tight wad of rhizomes.

I have a hack and slash style of gardening so if your a more timid gardener you won't be able to take my advice without a lot of guilt and anxiety LOL.

You'll hurt them more by improper planting then by dividing.

Back to making the bed tidy, you may want to consider edging the bed with something thats somewhat long blooming to give the bed a little color. If the bed is large enough maybe pick up a cheap japanese maple (or something else thats taller and attractive) to stick in the middle to distract from the sea of sword shaped leaves.

If your dividing a full bed don't try to stick all the iris that you divide back in, give them space. Your gonna have a LOT more than you realize once you get started. Steel yourself to throw them away, give them away, or dig a new area for the extra's.

Good luck. :-)

    Bookmark   May 29, 2009 at 12:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
delightp(5/ IN)

Maybe I should add a disclaimer.

I'm not one of the "iris experts" that hang out here. I have iris in addition to other perennials and I do not always follow the rules, I make my own.

What works for me in my rough and tumble garden may not work for others.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2009 at 1:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

delightp- One reason I have not had iris TB iris before this is that personally, I think the folliage is ugly and thats what you get to look at most of the year when they are not in bloom. So my opinion is even less politically correct for an iris forum than yours is. That said however, I don't know what other flower could rivel todays modern tall bearded iris flowers for beauty, form and those jewels of color!

I like your dividing advice, sounds good to me. I did have old historic iris years ago before my garden redo and that how I divided them. They grew like crazy.

One thing someone suggested to me was to plant annual portulacas in between the iris to give the bed some color while the iris are not in bloom. Sounded good to me but I will not be able to try that advice myself until next year as I am only doing my new iris bed this July.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2009 at 1:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
iris_gal(z9 CA)

I agree about the looks. Not as ugly as cymbidium orchids out of bloom but still not the most attractive look during summer.

I have my beardeds planted amongst roses & re-seeding annuals. Right now the Nigella is in full bloom. Poppies are almost over. Alyssum is in front tho I've used low-growing, drought resistant perrenials too. Oh, the shasta daisies are about to start. And there are some chrysanthemums too for fall color.

The only rule I follow is to not plant a moisture loving plant between beardeds. I even have daffodils mixed in since they like dryer summer soil. They're marked to not slice into when dividing.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 8:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

In the east, planting anything among the iris becomes a rot invitation. There are some toughies who can handle covered rhizomes, but it's not really a good idea.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 10:51AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

I love iris foliage. I grow some in shade just for the gray-green spikes. I pull off dead and yellow leaves.

I think they look much prettier in a garden mixed with other plants, in clumps. I do have the problem mad gallica pointed out- even here in CA if the pansies grow over the rhizomes they can rot.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2009 at 12:19AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
disneynut1977(5b, Sunset zone 42)

I'm also care for the blades of thier foliage. I like the spiky look.


    Bookmark   June 1, 2009 at 5:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
cookie44(z7a NVA)

Maybe part of my problem is the way the bed is already set up, which I didn't plant. Maybe also I'm not trimming it correctly/properly. It's not the easiest bed for me to take a photo of because of how it is situated, but here is what I inherited.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2009 at 9:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Wow, it looks like a nice yard- so green! and a very pretty bed, but I would say those irises are overgrown and in need of dividing.

I would thin them out considerably, and separate the different colors into a series of clumps that can be more easily maintained. Then you would have space between them to plant other things.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2009 at 10:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
cookie44(z7a NVA)

Thanks. I didn't divide them the first year we moved in because I wasn't sure when they had last been done (and too much a novice to be able to tell) so I figured I'd be safe and wait a year before I started. Guess I could've done it a year ago.

Thanks for the tips everyone!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2009 at 4:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ofionnachta(z6 WNJ)

I put daylilies with the irises, and I do give them room. Also, of course, divide when they get larger. And there are daffs in between, for early spring. And buy those throwaway chrysanthemums in fall & set them next to the bed.

That way everybody's ratty stage of foliage is distracted from by the flowers of some neighbor. And there is always some kind of color in there.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2009 at 6:06PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Help identifying two irises.
I took these photos in Siena, Italy and I would like...
iris borers
Last year I had several iris clumps that collapsed...
Consequences of transplanting in winter/early spring, zone 5
Hello, I have a question about transplanting irises....
Homeless US Navy Veteran w. Iris seed to trade
Hello, I currently live at the Homeless Veterans Emergency...
Looking for iris Frost and Flame
Hi, I m looking for the iris Frost and Flame by the...
Sponsored Products
Indoor Area Rug: Camilla Brown/Cream 5' x 7' 6"
Home Depot
Birillo Bathroom Organizer by Alessi
$100.00 | Lumens
18 Ga Sink 2 Strainers 2 Grids Cutting Board
Santa & Cole | Amigo Medium Indoor Outdoor Ceiling Light
Frozen Anna & Elsa Insulated Lunch Bag
$7.99 | zulily
Door Stops Chrome Zinc Alloy Magnetic Door Bumper 2 3/4 '' Proj | 14302
The Renovator's Supply, Inc.
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™