Siberian Iris

"But blueflags are blossoming
in the reeds
which the children pluck
chattering in the reeds
high over their heads
which they part
with bare arms to appear
with fists of flowers."

"The Blueflags"
by William Carlos Williams


Iris sibirica is a two-foot perennial, almost maintenence free, tolerating a wide array of soils & conditions, but mildly acidic moist soils are best.

It will tolerate some shade, but prefers a lot of sun. It's surprisingly drought tolerant, but would prefer moist well drained soil to bloom its best.

It blooms for only two or three weeks in May. Ours, in two patches, is the standard blue form found in the wild, native from central Eruope to Russia, but it has many cultivars in sundry colors.

The clump spreads rapidly & can be propagated by dividing the roots in autumn. If the roots are never divided, after four or five years it may cease to bloom, so should be dug up about every fourth September.

It could be divided more often, but it takes a year to bounce back after being disturbed, so it's best to let them go until they are pushing against the age when the roots have gotten too thick to produce the most flowers.

When it is done blooming it retains some interest for its grassy sword-leaves. The red-brown seeds are somewhat interesting & can be left for their slight decorative value for the whole of summer. In autumn the sword-leaves take on a interesting rusty golden shade before they begin dying back.

At some point as winter nears, the clump is so raggedy & dead it has to be cut to the ground, & even then looks a mess until well into spring. One of our clumps was originally planted in too central a location where in winter it was too much of an eyesoar. When it was time to dig it up for division, I moved it to a less important location where sundry foliages of surrounding pernenials help hide it when it is outside its good seasons.

Because irises need periodic division, everyone ends up with extra ones eventually, & we've been given some free ones without names. A general Iris Gallery shows a few of these.


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