Siberian Iris Bulbs: Lots Of Bloom With Minimum Effort

Summary: Siberian iris bulbs produce dramatic colors, have undemanding cultural requirements, provide a generous splash of color wherever used with a minimum of effort, and are virtually insect and disease-proof. What more could you ask from in a landscape flower!

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Question: I’ve heard that Siberian Iris are easy to grow and have minor problems with insects. Is that true? Grace, Wawarsing, NY

Answer: Grace, Siberian iris bulbs are the answer to a weary gardener’s dream. Dramatic in color effect, yet undemanding in soil or cultural requirements, they provide abundant bloom with a minimum effort. What is more, they are virtually insect and disease-proof.

The graceful Siberian iris flowers are perched like colorful butterflies atop slender, reedlike stalks, which often grow waist-high. While the blossoms are relatively small – 3″ to 4″ inches in diameter – they make up in number what they lack in size, producing a generous splash of color wherever used.

Flower colors range from pure white through the deepest shades of blue, rich purple, and even magenta.

Used In Clumps

Siberian iris are used most frequently in clumps in front of shrubbery, with other plants in perennial borders, as hedge rows, near pools, or alone in colorful mass plantings.

They are charming when used as companion plants to oriental poppies. Their narrow, glasslike foliage is in sharp contrast to the poppies, and their flower colors are equally complimentary.

A rich purple planted with pink oriental poppy and blue Siberian or white with any bright red or scarlet poppies are exquisite combinations.

Plant Bulbs Of Siberians Iris In Full Sun

Like many other iris, Siberians should be planted in full sunlight. However, they are equally at home in dry or moist locations and practically all reasonably good garden soil types.

Since Siberian iris grows more slowly than the tall bearded type, it is usually advisable to plant either large divisions or small clumps furnished by many growers, instead of single roots.

The long, fibrous roots are densely matted and resemble many perennials rather than the rhizomes of other iris. The best time to plant Siberian iris is in September or early October, when other perennials are moved.

Protect New Planting During Winter

Before setting out your plants, spade the soil and enrich it with a little humus and any good grade of commercial garden fertilizer. It is well to protect newly planted Siberians for the first winter with a light covering such as excelsior or salt hay.

Homeowners should not expect many flowers in the first season, but after that, the clumps will become larger and more floriferous with each passing year.

Since Siberian iris can be left undisturbed for seven or eight years, they should be planted with a view to permanence. They are gross feeders, needing an occasional top dressing of fertilizer around the clumps.

This will ensure floriferousness and keep the plants in a vigorous growing condition. The danger of insect infestation is so negligible it is hardly worthwhile to dust or spray them.

Be sure to clip off the dense mass of withered leaves early in March before growth commences. It is also a wise precaution to keep the soil around the clumps free of weeds and prevent grasses’ encroachment. Once grasses penetrate a clump, it is very hard to eradicate them.

by F Cassle