Irises forum→Planting Irises: Mix or Clump Colors?

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Texas
stardating
May 14, 2020 9:54 AM CST
Hello, everyone!

First, I wanted to thank everyone who helped me figure out what varieties I had in my previous post. That was tremendous help!

I now have another question: do you mix up all your bearded irises or do you keep them together, based on color, height, bloom time, etc.?

I'm pretty much on the fence when it comes to this.

In our backyard, we have two identical flower beds: one on the left and another on the right. In between them is my vegetable garden. In the alley, spanning along the whole length of the fence, is another flower bed.

This year, I loved seeing all of the different varieties of daffodils, crocuses, and hyacinths that came up in the early spring, but I also loved seeing the blue dutch irises blooming throughout all of the beds too. Some of my bearded irises naturalized, as you can see in the second picture. The red irises took over the left bed in the backyard, but I would love to see them in the right bed, because who doesn't love a little symmetry?

Thumb of 2020-05-14/stardating/62d79e Thumb of 2020-05-14/stardating/b49810 Thumb of 2020-05-14/stardating/9ce9bf

Later on this year, I plan to do a lot of transplanting and dividing of my bulb flowers and my bearded irises, along with getting some more of the ones I have (such as the mystery irises you helped me identify). I have neglected this for a while and some areas have gotten too crowded, while others have become rather sparse, so it will be a lot of work regardless if I make careful notes of what bearded iris is where or if I just divide them and mix them all up.

What do you think?

Should I divide and transplant randomly or should I be meticulous about what is put where? Which do you prefer or think would look better overall?

Thank you,

Nicole
Name: Daisy
close to Baltimore, MD (Zone 7a)
Irises Cat Lover Plant and/or Seed Trader Organic Gardener Region: Maryland Bookworm
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DaisyDo
May 14, 2020 10:11 AM CST
I always think that large clumps are more effective in a perennials bed. JMO.
-"If I can’t drain a swamp, I’ll go pull some weeds." - Charles Williams
Name: Evelyn
Sierra foothills, Northern CA (Zone 8a)
Garden Procrastinator Irises Bee Lover Butterflies Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: California
Cat Lover Deer Bulbs Foliage Fan Annuals Seed Starter
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evelyninthegarden
May 14, 2020 11:17 AM CST
stardating said:Should I divide and transplant randomly or should I be meticulous about what is put where? Which do you prefer or think would look better overall?

Thank you, Nicole


Hi Nicole,

First of all, I would like to Welcome! you to the Iris Forum! Hurray!

Second....I think that you should make your gardens in the way that pleases you most. Try your first option, and if you find out that doesn't work for you, then change it into something better.

The main thing will have to be to remember that they eventually grow into clumps and allow space for that. But how you arrange your gardens is really up to you.

I have mine in a variety of beds...in the Dark Side Garden, The White Flower Border, the Hot Bed...and also have two beds of irises in rows by themselves. I will be doing some rearranging this coming year, according to my ability, or if I can get some help. So iris beds are not "written in stone ".

If you find that you want to make changes after a season or two, the best time to dig them up is from July to fall, depending on your climate, but not before July. This gives them a chance to rest after blooming and become reestablished.

Sometimes you may find that some you have are not really to your liking after a while, or some just don't grow well or give you that look that you desire. Then, you also may find new ones that you really like...so for me, it is ever-changing. Not "written in stone". Take the ones that don't work in your setting, and put some new ones in.

Then...if you really want to get creative, you can start to hybridize your own. Of course, this takes a lot more room and time. For that purpose, you may consider putting them in rows away from your landscaped planned gardens.

Good luck, and let us know what you decide. And take LOTS of pictures!

"Luck favors the prepared mind." - Thomas Jefferson
Texas
stardating
May 14, 2020 1:52 PM CST
Thanks for the opinions so far, everyone!

Both really do have their appeals: with mass plantings, you have a huge and solid impact; but with mixing them up, you get bursts of color throughout the bed at different times, sometimes overlapping. Plus, with bearded irises, they do spread after a while (hence the whole need to divide).

But as evelyninthegarden said, you can always try one and then the other.

I still have plenty of time to make a decision (I don't plan to dig anything up until August, maybe late July before school starts up again), but I would still love to hear more takes on this!

Nicole
Name: daphne
san diego county, ca (Zone 10a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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shizen
May 14, 2020 2:15 PM CST
nicole, i think there's a post on irises and companion plantings. maybe someone can help? i don't know how to search for previously posted threads; it's worth a look-see, and may give your some great ideas?
[Last edited by shizen - May 14, 2020 2:18 PM (+)]
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Texas
stardating
May 14, 2020 2:32 PM CST
Hi, there!

I wasn't really looking into companion planting (like you would plant marigolds and tomatoes together), but more of arrangements of different colors of irises. But I can always look through the archives and see what others have said about this before!
Name: Evelyn
Sierra foothills, Northern CA (Zone 8a)
Garden Procrastinator Irises Bee Lover Butterflies Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: California
Cat Lover Deer Bulbs Foliage Fan Annuals Seed Starter
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evelyninthegarden
May 14, 2020 3:09 PM CST
Nicole ~ It is tricky to plant them with a theme in mind. (Sometimes irises have a mind of their own!) The reason that I mention this...

Do you want them to all bloom at the same time? Will you be putting rebloomers together? Or do you prefer staggered blooming and have highlights "move about" in the garden...so there is always something of interest? Are they going to be all tall bearded irises, or will you bring in other classes/sizes to lengthen the iris blooming season?

What area do you live in? That can help determine your length of blooming season. Colors...Do you want a purple bed, an orange bed, a pink bed? Will they bloom at different times in those too, to lengthen the season. What about plicatas, bicolors....etc. Where will these fit in? I know I have more questions than answers, but I just trying to give you an assortment of ideas on which to ponder. nodding
"Luck favors the prepared mind." - Thomas Jefferson
Name: Laurie
southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
Irises Butterflies Bee Lover Bulbs Cat Lover Region: Nebraska
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lauriemorningglory
May 14, 2020 9:41 PM CST
Hi Nicole,
You could try planting one solid color next to a multicolor that has the same color in it. For example: The yellow color in 'Ming' pulls out the yellow in 'Tripod' :



Also, pairing pastels with pastels looks good; and saturated colors with other saturated colors is good.

I also like black irises with about any color. This is cut flowers, but it gives you the idea:

Thumb of 2020-05-15/lauriemorningglory/21dc3a

The trick is to find irises that bloom at the same time. May require some trial and error!

Good luck!

Name: Evelyn
Sierra foothills, Northern CA (Zone 8a)
Garden Procrastinator Irises Bee Lover Butterflies Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: California
Cat Lover Deer Bulbs Foliage Fan Annuals Seed Starter
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evelyninthegarden
May 14, 2020 9:53 PM CST
lauriemorningglory said:The trick is to find irises that bloom at the same time. May require some trial and error! Good luck!


Laurie and Nicole ~ That IS the tricky part! Some may bloom at the same time one year, but not the next! Blinking
"Luck favors the prepared mind." - Thomas Jefferson
Name: Kathy
Nocona,Tx zn.7 (Zone 7a)
My garden..my "Peaceful Haven"
FAIRYROSE
May 21, 2020 4:29 AM CST
Hello Nicole! This Spring I found many of my similar colored clumps seemed to turn into one large mass of color. HOWEVER, they lost their individual identities..I found disappointing. I plan to divide & replant with complementary colors or darker solids mixed with bitones. I actually had 3 wonderful individual clumps, 2 were first time bloomers & nearly missed noticing the 2 were DIFFERENT! (And I spend a lot of time in my gardens)
God's in his Heaven, all's right in my World
Name: Kathy
Nocona,Tx zn.7 (Zone 7a)
My garden..my "Peaceful Haven"
FAIRYROSE
May 21, 2020 5:06 AM CST
Thumb of 2020-05-21/FAIRYROSE/f21af4
This is a nice blend of color.


This grouping is actually 4 different varieties. It looks good now, but when or if they grow into nice clumps, it will then appear to be only 2 varieties..so good for now,but maybe divide later!
Thumb of 2020-05-21/FAIRYROSE/9b0623

These 2 photos are of 2 of the 3 iris that merged into one! A few solids within, would have been much nicer.
Thumb of 2020-05-21/FAIRYROSE/06bac5


Thumb of 2020-05-21/FAIRYROSE/433205

This looks pretty complimentary in the photo, but Summer Shadow (the yellow) was much brighter, I didn't like ..so it will get moved!!
Thumb of 2020-05-21/FAIRYROSE/56d412

Parisian Dawn mixed with Sweet William
Thumb of 2020-05-21/FAIRYROSE/449eb6

Truly, you can't go wrong! If one year one Iris seems not quite right, then move it...but matching or mixing, either way is a lovely sight to behold
God's in his Heaven, all's right in my World
Name: Daisy
close to Baltimore, MD (Zone 7a)
Irises Cat Lover Plant and/or Seed Trader Organic Gardener Region: Maryland Bookworm
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DaisyDo
May 21, 2020 9:14 AM CST
Kathy, that group shot (5th down) is a beautiful combo of colors!
-"If I can’t drain a swamp, I’ll go pull some weeds." - Charles Williams
Texas
stardating
Jun 22, 2020 8:09 AM CST
Hello, everyone!

Sorry for the long wait for a reply! Thank you all for your pictures, ideas, and suggestions! They were all lovely! I ultimately have decided to mix all of my irises up, along with all of my other bulb flowers. The city is doing work on our sidewalks, streets, and back alleys in my neighborhood starting next summer, so this fall, I am moving the bed that is on the outside of our back garden fence *inside* the back garden to prevent them from being destroyed.

This will allow the inner back garden bed to be full and lush, while I can plant wild flowers in the soon-to-be empty outer garden bed. I won't miss those as much as I would the bearded irises if a bulldozer comes around back!

Thank you all again!

Nicole
Name: Arlyn
Whiteside County, Illinois (Zone 5a)
Irises Beekeeper Region: Illinois Celebrating Gardening: 2015
crowrita1
Jun 23, 2020 9:42 AM CST
I just plant them, everything seems to blend , pretty good Shrug!
Thumb of 2020-06-23/crowrita1/280bab

I do keep all the rebloomers, in their own beds, for ease of care, and try to keep dwarfs, and medians, to the front of the beds.

Name: Evelyn
Sierra foothills, Northern CA (Zone 8a)
Garden Procrastinator Irises Bee Lover Butterflies Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: California
Cat Lover Deer Bulbs Foliage Fan Annuals Seed Starter
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evelyninthegarden
Jun 23, 2020 12:18 PM CST
Arlyn is a practical man. Thumbs up
"Luck favors the prepared mind." - Thomas Jefferson
NE Oregon (Zone 7b)
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TBManOR
Jun 23, 2020 7:38 PM CST
I like iris grouped with perennials that have similar requirements, culturally. Irises with native shrubs, and perennials are quite harmonious here and work well together.
Below is an example of iris in a waterwise Southwestern state environment. There are similar, hardy companion plants that'll do well with in your locale too.
Thumb of 2020-06-24/TBManOR/d801af

I have long rows of iris neighborhoods in my garden so I SMASH the colors together, the more contrasty, the better. It just suits my tastes, personally
Thumb of 2020-06-24/TBManOR/a0ee4c

[Last edited by TBManOR - Jun 23, 2020 7:39 PM (+)]
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Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
irises
Charter ATP Member Cottage Gardener Enjoys or suffers cold winters Region: United Kingdom Region: Northeast US Irises
Region: United States of America
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irisarian
Jun 23, 2020 8:16 PM CST
like Arlyn, anywhere there is space.
Name: Robin
Melbourne, Australia (Zone 10b)
Region: Australia Irises Garden Photography Cat Lover Seed Starter
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Totally_Amazing
Jun 24, 2020 11:37 PM CST
Timothy - I love your mixed beds and your rows Lovey dubby
Name: Leslie
Durham, NC (Zone 8a)
Region: North Carolina Irises Cat Lover Garden Photography Enjoys or suffers hot summers Peonies
Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Lestv
Jun 25, 2020 5:58 AM CST
I have always had mixed beds with dwarfs and medians at the outside edges. The advantage of a mixed bed is if they don't bloom at the same time you still have a mix of color; and if one dies or you remove it then it is easy to pop another in its spot. I do plant complimentary colors around each other. And selfs are great as focal points and to break up patterns.
"The chimera is a one time happenstance event where the plant has a senior moment and forgets what it is doing." - Paul Black
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
irises
Charter ATP Member Cottage Gardener Enjoys or suffers cold winters Region: United Kingdom Region: Northeast US Irises
Region: United States of America
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irisarian
Jun 25, 2020 8:15 PM CST
as we grow few TBs, the BBs are our tallest irises., still as I have said before, a space, in goes the iris. But for example in SDBs, not too many yellows in the same place as they can get mixed up. I would suppose the same would go for the taller irises as you would depend on beard color to keep the selfs straight.

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