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Why shouldn't I plant spring bulbs between the new iris?

Posted by newyorkrita z6b/7a LI NY (My Page) on
Thu, Aug 12, 10 at 15:24

Here is my new iris bed all planted finially. I love the way it turned out :-))


It is 3 rows wide with the outside two rows lineing up with each other and the middle row sort of zigged so it is in the middle. All the rows are spaced evenly from one another. Must be the angle of the picture that makes it look like there is more space between some rows and others.


I remember last year I was thinking about putting bulb lilies between some iris and was asking about it. Finially was conviced it was a bad idea and didn't do it. That because lilies had a tendency to wander some, that is not always come up straight from were they are planted. Then the bulbs multiply too so I abandonded that idea.

This year I have just finished with that backyard 3 row wide iris bed, I have spring bulbs ordered and plan to be putting them around by the daylilies next to there. But I see all that room. I can't see why I shouldn't plant some daffs, tulips, crocus or dutch iris there in between the iris. The bloom time is way earlier. Well, Dutch Iris might bloom just before the TB. But the others much earlier. Maybe crocus have too much folliage after they bloom. I know it can get large and raggedy from having them in other places. But tulips and daffs don't have that much folliage to die down. And they come up were planted, not wander over.

I can see were big clumps would be a bad idea. But simply afew bulbs between each iris space? And then if they clump up I can divide the bulbs. I have never had a problem with tulips clumping up. They die out in afew years and you have to get new ones anyway.

So before I think too hard on what bulbs to plant there I figgure I would ask and see why I shouldn't do it. After all the bulbs can be easily moved if they end up eventually too close to the iris. And I just hate the idea that all that space is there for just one bloom period when bulbs could add so much and die down before summer so you didn't even know they are under there.

Plus tulips don't like lots of watering so they at least go with iris really well.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Why shouldn't I plant spring bulbs between the new iris?

What is the distance in your rows between iris? Each single iris fan that I planted three years ago has expanded to a circle that is about 18 inches in diameter. And this is with drought.

The second year, the plants were much larger than that fan I planted Now? I am having to move all of the first bed and this time next year, the second bed will probably need it.

I can't tell dimensions from your pics. How much space do you have between them? I planted daffodils between the iris in the new bed last fall, and I got by with it for this year. Next year, I expect I'll have to move them...but that is next year.

RE: Why shouldn't I plant spring bulbs between the new iris?

Kay -

You know me. Everything I plant is squished together as much as possible. I will never have big iris clumps, just like I will never have big daylily clumps. Because of the close planting I will always need to divide more often. I even thought about that with the iris. But would rather have more of many different ones than less but nice big clumps.

So the iris lined up in rows of 16 inches apart. There is more space than that between the rows but now I can't remember exactly how much.

RE: Why shouldn't I plant spring bulbs between the new iris?

  • Posted by memo Zone 4B Nebraska (My Page) on
    Fri, Aug 13, 10 at 12:19

Rita, I think that your thinking is logical and I don't see how it would be a problem to plant other things in there together.

What I did think about though is that once the spring blooms and iris are done, you are going to have a large empty bed full of dying foliage. Maybe iris leaves stay attractive and green where you live but where I am they get more and more ratty looking as summer wears on. Just a thought. Perhaps some small perennials or even annuals would be a better choice to keep the color going in that bed???


RE: Why shouldn't I plant spring bulbs between the new iris?

Honestly, I have never thought iris leaves are that all fire attractive but the blooms sure do make up for it. Here the iris leaves look pretty good, green like they are in spring as long as they get some water. I don't want to do annuals as anything and everything spreads or sprawls and I don't want to cover those rhizomes when they are putting on the new growth. Spring bulbs just seem to be logical to me as they bloom, follige only stays for awhile and then it all just dissapears. Late spring or summer you would never know those bulbs had been there. I figgure the dying spring bulb folliage is only ratty looking for a short while. The thing I am thinking is to select the right bulbs or combo of bulbs.

I was thinking about it. I was thinking between the each iris in the iris rows afew dutch iris. The bulbs are small, like onion sets. They don't get planted too deeply. About 4-6 inches. And everyone said they die out after afew years up here in the north. As I have never had them fall planted I don't know how long they will actually last for me. But they are also really easy to pull up if they crowd the iris.

Then between the rows tulips, maybe daffs, maybe both. But only afew in each grouping so there are not big clumps. I am still working this out in my mind.

RE: Why shouldn't I plant spring bulbs between the new iris?

The iris will spread some much faster than others. They will form a solid mat of iris rhizomes with little space between.

Unless you are very diligent in removing the center older rhizomes and redistributing the outer spreaders, I am wondering how the bulbs will break through the iris....

Just something to think about.

What you might consider is something planted in front of the bed if you are trying to hide the old iris or have something pleasant to look at besides the faded iris.

Something very airy over them might work by not shading the rhizomes which you don't want to do, full sun is best on the tops, maybe gypsophila here and there.

I am facing the same problem with some iris beds and haven't resolved it yet.

RE: Why shouldn't I plant spring bulbs between the new iris?

I would skip the tulips and daffodils, staying with smaller bulbs. Tulip and daff foliage is the most noticeable while dying back. There are lots of interesting smaller bulbs that aren't as often used - consider chionodoxa, eranthis, ipheon, Puschkinia libanotica, along with the more common things like crocuses, snowdrops, scilla of various sorts and anemones. Maybe add some fall-flowering Colchicums and crocuses.

RE: Why shouldn't I plant spring bulbs between the new iris?

Well, I haven't had bearded iris very long, I only planted my first last year. And I do know those little fans will form clumplets by next year. But I just don't have a big garden so don't plan on having big clumps. I am not going to let the iris grow together. But I don't know from actual experience so could have misjudged how quickly and how much they grow.

I do know how ugly tulip and daff folliage is adter bloom but it only lasts a small while considering its gone the reast of the summer.

I decided to try it and ordered lots of DUTCH IRIS for between each TB iris in the rows. The bulbs are small, like onion sets. The follige on them is skinny too. And if I plant only afew I think it will work. Worse case is I have to pull them if the iris spreads and it doesnt work. Between the rows I am going to put afew early tulips and early blooming daffs. All of which I ordered last night. If this experiment doesn't work then I can just pull the bulbs.

And I do plan to put bulbs also in front and in back of that iris bed. I was not trying to hide it really, I just want another season of bloom using the space. So very early bloom spring bulbs. Later bloom iris. After that the daylilies around there start their show.

RE: Why shouldn't I plant spring bulbs between the new iris?

I love Dutch iris in the garden, & they make good cut flowers, too.

RE: Why shouldn't I plant spring bulbs between the new iris?

Every time I see pictures of Dutch Iris I just love, love. love them. I really wanted to add them to my garden but didn't get a chance to plant any last fall. So now I will this fall. And the Iris bed area is prefect. Both in there and around there. I bet it looks great.

RE: Why shouldn't I plant spring bulbs between the new iris?

Rita, where have you been the last couple of weeks? I miss you. I always love your posts and pictures of your flowerbeds. I am an iris fanatic...I have the iris virus, as a friend of mine says. I have a big star-shaped bed in my side yard that we built two years ago. Each star point has irises in it. Last fall I planted Angelique tulips in between some of the irises and they were beautiful. I also planted some Allium Globemaster in that bed and they bloomed at the same time as some of the irises. I really liked the look of those. Planting other bulbs with your irises is a good idea.


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