Irises, Native and Not

I mentioned rearranging plants in my last post. This is the best time to rearrange your irises. They are dormant, and they are happier to remain dry this time of year, which makes post-planting attention simple.

Native Irises

I moved blue-eyed grass last week. It seeds where it wants to, but the plants are very easy to move. They are small enough to be a trowel job, even when they have reached blooming size.

Blue-eyed grass in bloom in moderate shade. Photographed on June 6, 2020.

They get a little leggy in shade, so I moved them to a somewhat sunnier spot where their roots will be shaded, but they will be able to peek out over other plants. I had these in the rain garden, but they did not like it enough to return. Perhaps too much sun, or too much variation in the amount of available water.

Another native iris that could be moved now is blue flag. These are filling in nicely and may need dividing next year, but not now.

Blue flag in the rain garden. Photographed on June 6, 2020.

Other Irises

I do love irises, so I also have bearded and Siberian irises.

The Siberian irises do well in the rain garden and elsewhere too. The somewhat grassy foliage on this plant stays very nice all the way through the growing season. Caesar’s Brother, shown below, is easy to find, but beautiful none the less; the flowers never list to the side, even if you allow them to go to seed.

Caesar’s Brother, a beautiful deep purple Siberian iris. Photographed on June 6, 2020.

On the other hand, I have had bearded irises with flower heads so heavy that they need to be propped somehow—and certainly before it rains. Those heavy flowers have given way to bearded irises that will sensibly hold their flowers up.

The variety Caprice is multiplies happily, but not alarmingly fast. It has a strong, but pleasantly grapey, scent.

A scented bearded iris, Caprice. Photographed on June 6, 2020.

Batik does not multiply as quickly, and its genetics seem somewhat unstable. This clump is about 25 years old. It started producing some white irises with purple edges a few years ago that I’ve been moving into a separate bed. I forgot to tag the one shown here last spring, so I’ll move it next summer. It is a very tidy bearded iris, and the variations of the flowers are quite nice.

A  more modern bearded iris, Batik. Photographed on June 1, 2020.


The foliage on bearded irises can get a little ratty after bloom, so I remove dead leaves, and occasionally trim as well.

Siberian iris foliage dies back over the winter, but hangs on tenaciously. It can be trimmed or ignored, depending on whether something else hides it; it ends up looking like a big nest—tidy for a nest, but definitely a nest.

Flag, bearded irises, and Siberian irises all need periodic dividing. When? When they start to look crowded. Unlike blue-eyed grass, these plants will take some effort to dig up.