Discover Your Iris Dream Spot: Perfect Location for Irises

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Understanding the Ideal Location for Bearded Irises

The ideal location for German Irises and other bearded varieties is on a slope or a level at the top of a slope because of the dryness of good drainage.

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Incorporating Bearded Irises in a Rock Garden

In a rock garden, where a clump or two of dwarf bearded iris makes a pretty effect, they will do best among limestone.

Planting bearded irises on low, level ground will not harm them in a dry climate, especially if there is plenty of sand in the soil for drainage.

Limestone grit is also very good to mix with the soil for this purpose – if it is grit and not powdered lime.

Soil Amendments for Healthy Bearded Iris Growth

Bone meal, sand (or grit), and wood ashes are the only things that should be mixed with the soil when planting.

All three of these should be used together. I have had a bad experience planting irises among coal ashes, though this may have been coincidental.

The Impact of Coal Ashes on Iris Rhizomes

Some authorities recommend coal ashes when sand is not obtainable. However, the chemicals in the coal ashes in one patch in our garden seemed to burn the outside of the rhizomes, so far as I could see.

Dry Climate and Iris Planting Locations

In our dry climate, we have found irises planted on a slope get too dry and do not do as well as those planted on high, level ground.

The low ground is not a very good location for irises anywhere – except water-loving irises – because, while Siberian irises and other irises that like moisture do their best around a bird bath or other moist location at the foot of a slope, the bearded irises (German and dwarf) should never be set in such a location, where pools of water are likely to collect.

Avoiding Shade and Moisture for Bearded Irises

And whether the ground is high or low, no iris should ever be planted in the shade or under shrubs or tree branches.

If setting the bearded irises in a high location is impossible, a small ditch should be dug alongside them to carry away the moisture. 

The reason irises usually do so well along the edge of a sidewalk is that the hollow in which the sidewalk is set constitutes a camouflaged drainage ditch for the irises.

Garden specialists have various ideas about placing the German iris in a garden concerning the location of the other flowers. 

Some object to the “untidy” appearance of the leaves after the blooming season is over, though this untidiness is not very noticeable in an informal mass of flowers.

Companion Plants for Irises After Blooming Season

Tall flowers, just in front of the irises, will conceal them after the iris-blooming season is through, and for this purpose, I recommend annuals.

Some perennials, such as hardy phlox, will kill out the irises they conceal if not kept in check. Keeping hardy phlox in check is almost impossible unless you are a professional gardener. 

Even then, hardy phlox, though beautiful, draw much of the value out of the soil that the iris needs. Good annuals, if not planted too thickly, are dwarf marigolds.

When placing an iris in the ground, remember that the new irises will grow around it. Eventually, they may form a clump 3’ feet across, depending on the kind of iris.

Spacing Considerations for Planting Irises

So whether you set them in groups or straight lines, give each plenty of room. There should be at least 3’ feet of space between large types of irises.

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