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Fragrant beauty
Irises are easy to grow and will make your yard smell wonderful


June 2008


With over 200 species of irises, how does the amateur gardener know which ones are the best to grow? Durability and easy maintenance make the tall bearded irises some of the easiest to grow. Add some beauty to your garden with tips from Francis & Ruth Rogers from Meadowbrook Gardens and Lynn Bausch, a member of the American Iris Society. All seven varieties will grow in Wisconsin.

Rogers shares some pointers for the beginner iris grower.

Iris seedlings require the brightest possible light. In dim light, the seedlings will become weak and spindly.

Plant the seeds at the end of July to get a good start for winter. Make sure the top part of the "rhizome," or fleshy root, is showing. Plant at least 18 inches apart.

Irises require regular, well drained soil. Donít use too much fertilizer; it makes them rot.

Plant the seeds at a depth three to four times their diameter. Planting the seeds one-inch deeper is sometimes recommended for colder climates, such as Wisconsin, where the alternating freeze/thaw weather may heave them out of the ground if planted too shallow.

The flowers multiply rapidly and need to be moved every two to three years to avoid crowding.

The aroma of irises is extraordinary, making them a perfect flower for a beautiful bouquet.

Chasing Rainbows

This 34-inch iris has billowing ruffles and magnificent coloring. Wide falls and a bright orange beard round out the colors.


Broad, well-formed flowers that are heavily ruffled are what set this iris apart. This 36-inch flower is a late to very late bloomer.


This 38-inch tall iris is a mid- to late-season bloomer. Lavender beards are tipped with yellow and the flower is heavily ruffled.


This tall bearded flower is a mid-season bloom. This highly-fragrant flower has beards of blue with a yellow tip.


This flower gets its name from the ruffled rich dark purple-black standards. This 34-inch iris is a mid- to late-season bloom.


This iris has a pronounced sweet fragrance and is heavily ruffled and laced. The 38-inch iris is a mid- to late-season bloom.

Ruffled Rascal

This new flower was hybridized by Francis Rogers and registered in 2008, but has not yet been introduced. The border bearded iris is 25 inches tall and has a sweet fragrance.



This story ran in the June 2008 issue of: