I grow several kinds of iris in my garden. I consider it a plant of good value. Not only do you get beautiful blooms like these, depending on the varieties you choose, you can have some good looking foliage right through the season. Iris, if they are planted properly, will multiply all over the place. These Japanese iris are some of the most vigorous I grow. They're also some of my favorites. They respond well to being divided about every three to four years.
Unlike their tall bearded cousins, which are a little more forgiving when it comes to soil chemistry, Japanese iris absolutely have to have acidic soils. If your soil is alkaline, you either need to completely avoid growing these plants, amend your soil with an acidifier like aluminum sulfate, or grow them in containers.
If you're inclined, you can even make these a part of a water feature just by setting pots of them in standing water. Now they can be a little fussy. They'll enjoy the water while they are in an active growth phase, say in the spring and summer. But as soon as they go dormant, you'll want to lift the container and iris out and put them in a drier place.
As soon as these finish flowering, I'm going to put some of them in containers so I can grow them in my pool next year.
Japanese iris are the last to bloom in my garden and they come in a variety of colors. I'm particularly fond of this one with its purple veining. In addition to what these plants can do for the garden, some of the most effective, yet simple arrangements I've ever seen involve a few Japanese iris blossoms and the leaf of some other perennial, like a hosta. If you'd like the names of some sources for Japanese iris, just write me here at the station. From the garden, I'm Allen Smith.
Sources for Japanese Iris
Aitken's Salmon Creek Garden 608 N.W. 119th St.
Vancouver, WA 98685
(206) 573-4472 cat. $2
6815 Falls Road
Upperco, MD 21155
(410) 374-4788 cat. $1
9823 E. Michigan Ave.
Galesburg, MI 49053
(616) 665-7500 cat. $2
P. Allen Smith Gardens
© 1997 Hortus, Ltd.