Irises forum→Can anyone help me get started with bearded iris?

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Tuscany, Italy
bart2018
Oct 3, 2020 4:30 AM CST
Here in Italy, the wild bearded irises (called " giaggioli") are totally no-care plants-in fact, they can be a little too enthusiastic. All you need to do is protect them from being eaten by porcupines, and of course divide them when they get too dense.
Now I'd like to branch out, and try some of the dazzling hybrids of this great plant,but I'd like some advice,if possible. For one thing-how to choose from so many beautiful varieties? I'm hoping to order from an Italian nursery (I'm here in Tuscany; this nursery ,Claragarden,specializes in iris and is in nearby Emilia-Romagna),and only after a long struggle have I narrowed my selection down to 11 or 12 varieties. Is that too many for a beginner?
Furthermore,I imagine that the hybrids will need more care than the wild giaggioliany suggestions would be most welcome. Thanks in advance!
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
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irisarian
Oct 3, 2020 5:51 AM CST
Bearded irises need at least half day sun no matter where they grow. the nursery should give advice if you ask them.
Name: Evelyn
Sierra foothills, Northern CA (Zone 8a)
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evelyninthegarden
Oct 3, 2020 11:10 AM CST
bart2018 ~ Welcome! to the Iris Forum! Hurray!
"Luck favors the prepared mind." - Thomas Jefferson
Name: Laurie
southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
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lauriemorningglory
Oct 3, 2020 1:18 PM CST
Welcome!

I'm sure glad I don't have to deal with iris-eating porcupines! Yikes!

Ten to 12 irises is not too many for a beginner. Cultivars differ in their ability to grow well in a given area, and so it is good to try several and find those that do well for you. However, if you are purchasing from a grower near you, there is a better chance that most will do well.

It is hard to choose from so many cultivars! If you are close enough to visit the garden at bloom time, it may help you decide what to get. I happen to like the shorter cultivars: miniature and standard dwarf bearded, border bearded, intermediate bearded, miniature tall bearded. You might want to try some of these, too. I also like strong sweet fragrance. Which cultivars are you looking at getting?



Name: Sherry Austin
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Henhouse
Oct 3, 2020 8:07 PM CST
Only 11 or 12 ?? Hilarious!
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Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
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irisarian
Oct 3, 2020 9:03 PM CST
give her a break Sherry! The iris virus will strike. I think the small start for a year or two experiment will be a good start for culture. Welcome to the madness.
Tuscany, Italy
bart2018
Oct 4, 2020 10:19 AM CST
Thank you all for your enthusiastic responses-I'm so glad to hear that you all don't think I'm over-reaching too much. Actually, my list is about 15, but I don't know if the nursery will have them all.It sure was hard choosing from so many beauties-I tried to opt for mid-late bloomers, in the hopes they'll be in bloom when my roses start (up till now I've mainly done roses).I only have one or max 2 re-bloomers on the list.There is no running water at my land where my garden is, so most plants have to get by on rainfall after their first year. Summers here in Tuscany are hideously hot and dry; with this combination of conditions I'd be afraid that they'd only re-bloom in freak years anyway, so it wasn't a top priority. Also chose cool colours,since they are my favourites and irises are one of the not numerous plants who "do" blue very, very well. Thirdly,tried to stick with inexpensive varieties-the priciest one on my list is supposed to cost 7 euros and 20 cents.So here is my list:
1)Reincarnation
2)Honky Tonk Blues
3)Mer du Sud
4)Ouragan
5Paul Black
6)Yaquina Blue
7)Rosalie Figge
8)Florentine Silk
9)Corona Star
10)About Town
11)Loiusa's Song
12)Schizo
13)Fashionably Late
14)Social Graces
15)Mythology

These are all tall ones, because I'm under the impression that the shorter ones bloom earlier,and for now at least I'm looking for ones that will bloom with my roses. Providing full sun is not a problem! actually, I put in a lot of trees to provide shade...
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
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irisarian
Oct 4, 2020 7:44 PM CST
look good to me
Name: Jan Wax
Mendocino County, N. CA (Zone 9a)
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janwax
Oct 5, 2020 9:00 AM CST
Some excellent choices Hurray! . Rosalie Figge performs very well for us here in hot dry California.
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Name: Laurie
southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
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lauriemorningglory
Oct 5, 2020 6:02 PM CST
Rosalie Figge does well for me, too, and is fragrant and pretty.

I recognize many names as popular irises. Several I don't recognize.

Mer du Sud---such a pretty blue color:


Ouragan:


Schizo:


Corona Star---this is very pretty:
Name: Laurie
southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
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lauriemorningglory
Oct 5, 2020 6:04 PM CST
My guess is that rebloomers are more vigorous and so would stand up better to your dry conditions. Someone else will hopefully correct me if I'm wrong. Smiling
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
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irisarian
Oct 5, 2020 11:11 PM CST
rebloomers need extra water
Tuscany, Italy
bart2018
Oct 6, 2020 3:31 AM CST
That is exactly why I didn't focus on them; I don't have a suburban garden with the possibility for irrigation. I want to add companions for the roses,but finding plants that will accept these conditions does require some experimenting. Iris are a good bet, I think, since the native wild varieties are quite content.Surprisingly, delphiniums do well, too, as long as I remember to protect them from slugs when they are still short.
The nursery did get back to me-they have all of my list except Florentine Silk and Yaquina Blue (bummer).I'm going to take a quick look at their catalog again to see if any replacements for these two catch my eye...any suggestions?
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
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irisarian
Oct 6, 2020 6:35 AM CST
difficult without their list--Wintry Sky?
Name: Laurie
southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
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lauriemorningglory
Oct 7, 2020 4:48 PM CST
I guess I should try to clarify. I know that in order to get a rebloom you often do need extra water, but I was thinking that an iris that has the potential to rebloom is probably a pretty vigorous iris---blooming takes a lot of energy. So I thought a rebloomer would be a good choice based on its toughness in an area that doesn't get water, not because you expect it to re-bloom.

Does that make sense?
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
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irisarian
Oct 8, 2020 5:59 AM CST
best rebloomer here is Imortality.
Name: Evelyn
Sierra foothills, Northern CA (Zone 8a)
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evelyninthegarden
Oct 8, 2020 9:02 AM CST
Lucy ~ Immortality has never rebloomed for me.

Laurie ~ It makes sense to me.
"Luck favors the prepared mind." - Thomas Jefferson
Name: Laurie
southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
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lauriemorningglory
Oct 9, 2020 5:48 PM CST
I don't know if you want a yellow, but I used to grow Harvest of Memories. It was quite vigorous and rebloomed in autumn. It may not rebloom without some water, but it might still survive your tough conditions.

Harvest of Memories fall rebloom:
Thumb of 2020-10-09/lauriemorningglory/f75488

Tuscany, Italy
bart2018
Oct 12, 2020 4:11 AM CST
Laurie, it could be true; maybe I'll find out, since I have one or two re-bloomers on my list (Reincarnation, Rosalie Figge, and maybe Blue Suede Shoes ) I hope the nursery gets back to me soon; here October is the last month for planting them; I should've made up my mind earlier,though I must admit that, with the havoc that climate change has wrought on the Italian climate, I was reluctant to order anything until I was sure that it was going to start raining.
I'm not too keen on yellows or whites; in part because there are lots of yellow and white wildflowers in my garden,so they kind of take care of that colour range for me,lol...
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
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irisarian
Oct 12, 2020 5:43 AM CST
However an iris is different. Truly, although I can see your point.

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