When it comes to growing and caring for garden perennials, the Siberian Iris is one of the easiest flowers to plant in your garden. Despite its exquisite beauty and waif-like stalks, this is a hardy flower that can hold its own against a strong wind, the harsh cold, and unwelcoming conditions. It doesn’t succumb to pests easily and is practically a disease-free plant. So what’s not to like about the Siberian Iris?
And don’t let its short-lived flowers fool you. The Siberian Iris is more than just a delicate flower. Its green foliage and long and slender leaves keep your hedges and borders looking neat and in good shape for the most part of the year. So the question is, how do you plant, grow, and care for the elegant and graceful Siberian Iris?
Know your Siberian Iris
Put simply, the Siberian Iris is more the product of gardeners than is it the work of nature. Flower enthusiasts came up with this delicate and intricate flower by mixing together two other plants specifically Iris sanguinea and Iris sibirica. Both of these flowers which belong to the iris family originate from Asia and Europe. In the rainy spring, the meadows get flooded and the warm weather and mulch create the perfect conditions for these flowers to grow.
In the late spring and early summer, the Siberian Iris starts to bloom. The color explosion is often sudden and one morning you’d wake up to find your garden covered in wonderful shades of purple, blue, and white. Each flower is carried by its own slender stalk which reaches heights between 2 and 4 feet. The flowers themselves don’t stay blooming for long (two weeks at most) but the stalks with their dark green leaves remain in all their splendor.
Siberian Iris stalks are not on the menu for animals such as rabbits and deer. This makes this plant the perfect border and landscaping solution for almost every garden no matter how big or small. If you have a pond, you won’t go wrong creating a hedge of Siberian iris along its edges. During the fall, the Siberian Iris loses its deep green shades and puts on a more subtle golden color that turns into a subdued red-brown when the winter arrives.
Growing the Siberian Iris
Perhaps the process of planting and growing the Siberian Iris can best be explained by the contradiction between the delicate and short-lived flowers and the hardy and enduring stalks. Growing and caring for these perennial plants require some attention to the soil, moisture, and light among other crucial factors. I can’t stress enough how each one of these factors can make or break your beautiful Siberian Iris hedge or border. So let’s go through them in a little more detail.
The good news is, the adaptable nature of the Siberian Iris allows it to grow and flourish in the regular garden soil. You won’t have to go out of your way to make the soil more to its liking. That said, the average soil will only produce an average plant. If you want your Siberian Iris to roar with color then an acidic soil is needed. Make sure the pH levels in the soil are between 6.5 to 7 for great results.
In addition, organic matter makes a lot of difference to this plant. So the more compost you pour into the garden, the better blooming Siberian Irises you get. The reason being that organic compost is better at keeping the soil moist during the dry months. As we’ll see later, the Siberian Iris prefers moisture and lots of it.
Even though the Siberian Iris can grow in regular garden soil without the need for any additives, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use fertilizers. As mentioned, average soil produces a subpar plant. Since the Siberian Iris keeps its stalks and leaves almost all year round, that means you need to provide nutrition in the form of fertilizers to keep it going strong.
Ideally, it’s better to use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer twice a year. The first time will be in the early spring right before the flowers start to bloom. The plant needs a high dose of nitrogen for the bloom season. If you get your hands on worm castings, they are an excellent fertilizer for the pre-bloom application. The second time would be after the flowers have faded. This time a balanced fertilizer is recommended since your focus is on helping the stalks and leaves grow and mature.
Since the spring is usually the most demanding time for the Siberian Iris mainly because of the bloom cycle, that’s when the plant needs all the nutrition and water it can get. So it’s important that you keep the soil moist around the early spring. Compost made of organic matter is the ideal additive to use. It retains moisture better than other types of compost. It also blankets the topsoil with a thick layer that helps keep the soil cool.
For the rest of the year, the Siberian Iris doesn’t need as much moisture and can survive well even in relatively dry soil. However, if you want your plants to grow into healthier clumps, then irrigation should be a priority, especially during the summer months as well. This is why experts recommend that you plant the Siberian Iris with other perennials that also need lots of watering. That way you won’t forget about irrigation and accidentally let the soil go dry.
The sun and the Siberian Iris go together well. Even long after the bloom cycle, the plant still needs its daily dose of the nourishing sun rays. If your garden gets the morning sun, that would work great for the Siberian Iris. A light shade wouldn’t hurt the plant that much, but if you plant the iris in an area that hardly gets any sun, it won’t grow as well as expected.
The rhizomes of the Siberian Iris, on the other hand, are a different matter. They shouldn’t see the sun at all. When you plant the Siberian Iris, make sure that the soil in the pot is level with the ground. This prevents the rhizomes from being exposed to the sun which could be detrimental to the plant. Always cover the rhizomes with at least two inches of soil to protect them.
Mulch has many benefits as far as growing the Siberian Isis is concerned. For one thing, it retains the moisture in the soil and protects it from the excessive heat of the sun. Another benefit has to do with preventing weeds from growing in the soil.
If your garden soil freezes in the winter, then you’re probably aware of the devastation that the thawing and heaving cause to the Siberian Iris. Mulch can come in handy to keep the soil intact and protect the rhizomes as well as the roots from deterioration.
Siberian Iris Care
While the Siberian Iris is a plant that can fend for itself and is good at adapting to different types of soils and weather conditions, you still need to care for it if you want to get those healthy clumps that protect your hedges and borders.
If you plant the Siberian Iris alongside other garden perennials such as peony, saliva, or yarrow achillea, you’ll notice that while these perennials are infested with pests, the Siberian Iris stalks stand tall, proud, and clean. It’s one of the advantages of having this particular iris in your garden. It simply resists pests and diseases.
However, the iris borer, a nocturnal moth, is a pest that targets the Siberian iris and needs your intervention. The moth chews their way through stalks and leaves and inflicts lasting damage to the plant. The best way to protect your plant is to spray it with a pesticide regularly.
When digging and dividing the Siberian Iris should be done with care and caution. The best time to transplant it is right after they bloom. With the new roots growing you can safely dig them up and transplant them. However, you need to make sure to keep the rhizomes moist for the next two months to help them establish the roots in the soil. If you can’t keep the soil moist around this time, then maybe you should wait until September to transplant them. The temperature is cooler and the soil is more likely to retain moisture.