Monday, October 7, 2013

"Talking Irises" TALL BEARDED IRIS AND COMPANION PLANTS

By Susanne Holland Spicker

One of the most enjoyable aspects of growing TALL BEARDED IRISES is the countless ways we can use them in our gardens. Using a variety of COMPANION PLANTS for texture, shape, height and color can enhance the beauty of a garden. And, since the color range of irises rival nearly all plants--available in every imaginable hue, tone and color of the rainbow except maybe a true red--the possibilities are endless!

By using the early, mid and late blooms of the irises, there are several plants that fit into their window of bloom. For instance, the last of the single late tulips, or the first blooms of the hybrid tea roses overlap the early and late iris blooms. The colors, height and form of lupine add interest to the bed and are a favorite of mine to use because their bloom time perfectly coincides with the iris bloom time. Peonies, both tree and herbaceous, as well as poppies, are also favorites. Other perennials I have used successfully in the iris beds have been allium, clematis, columbine, dutch iris, foxglove, delphinium, lilacs, and even early gladiola, whose corms have over-wintered and start their growth early before I start planting new ones that will flower much later in the season.  The good things about all of these perennials is that their growing conditions are compatible with the conditions needed for tall bearded irises.
The regal colors of "CHERRY BLOSSOM SONG," "TIMELESS MOMENT," "MULLED WINE," "CHANGE OF PACE," "KITTY KAY," and "ARTIST'S TIME,"  with companion plants of lupine, peony and poppy provide an eye-catching bed

This pink bed uses the subtle and delicate tones of pinks and whites. Clematis, poppies, peonies, gladiola, foxglove, and a variety of lupine in shades of pink and white go well with irises "EMBRACE ME," "ELISA RENEE," "LACED COTTON," "POND LILY," and "DATE BAIT"

The striking colors of "SKATING PARTY," "THROB," "LATIN LOVER," "STARSHIP ENTERPRISE," "RINGO," "VIZIER," and "SALZBURG ECHO," are complimented in this bed with peonies, lupine, pansies, monarda, and the last blooms of forsythia, lilac and snowball bushes.

This bed of irises "PLANNED TREASURE," "MARY FRANCIS," "BUBBLING OVER," "COMING UP ROSES," and "POEM OF ECSTASY," with the complimentary colors of peach/pink and lavender/lilac contains poppies, itoh peony, delphinium, early gladiola, lupine and verbascum.


When planning the beds, I look for companion plants that are relatively easy to grow, are hardy and reliable, and plants that look their best with minimal care. Keep in mind the growth of your irises and the room they need to establish a nice clump.These plants have worked well for me. But, as you plan your beds, don't be afraid to experiment. If it doesn't work, you can always move the plants around.  

What companion plants have you used in your iris beds? I'd love to hear what has worked well for you! 



20 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh, these are so beautiful! You have such a talent for combining colors.

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  2. Wow! Such a beautiful display of color combinations. We will definitely encourage our visitors and customers to view this blog post. Thank you for creating this pleasing palette of companion plants for Bearded Iris!

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  3. hello , great ideas for combinations color of flowers.I love this. HAPPY for the garden. congrtullations.

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  4. Amazing! I learned so much about color schemes and their combination. Thank you!

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  5. Carolina Phlox (Phlox carolina L.) is one that I use as a companion to bearded iris.

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    1. Yes, I love phlox with irises as well--I have a beautiful variegated leaved one with a bright pink blossom and white phlox David with mine--I love the look! Thanks for sharing!

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  6. I like to add the softer Oriental poppies here and there to the Iris boarder.

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  7. I love Oriental poppies with mine, too! I have several--my favorites being Ruffled Patty, Patty's Plum, Harlem, Miss Piggy, Raspberry Queen, Wedding Bride, Queen Alexander and Watermelon. They bloom at the same time and provide great contrast in form and texture. Thanks for sharing!

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  8. Thank you for the inspiring color combination ideas! Quite stunning.

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  9. my iris die out by June and them I have a ugly bed. I have planted saliva and marigolds by seed to help cover up the iris but I can't water too much or the iris will rot. Have any of you planted anything that blooms after the iris stop?

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  10. Hi Charlotte. Yes, I have used many plants along with the irises. These are some that bloom after the iris bloom--daylilies, Asiatic and Oriental lilies, dahlias, daisies, mums, zinnias, lavender, and petunias. The rhizomes still need water, and those plants like moist, but not wet conditions as well, and so I have had good luck with them. I'm in zone 6, and my summers are hot. I've never lost an iris due to rot because of watering them in the summer--just make sure the soil isn't soggy or too wet--which, really, most plants don't like.

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  11. Thanks for lovely list of companion plants for bearded iris.

    I grow allium amongst my irises. Happy gardening!

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    1. I think allium look amazing with irises--their tall, round spikes compliment them so well. I bet your garden is beautiful!

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  12. Thank you, thank you! Actual useful advice unlike other links I read. I like for one, you added photos of all other flowers and combinations recommend. I love your ideas. Can't wait till next spring. My problem is the white fence in my backyard has no color except when my purple iris's bloom. But it is brief, so I was considering honeysuckle in between Iris plants. This way I have some growth up the fence in some areas. What do you think?

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    1. Thank you for such a nice comment; I appreciate your kind words. To answer your question, a honeysuckle vine or bush would certainly be pretty and the scent is wonderful--but be careful, they can be very invasive, and once established, hard to keep under control. They require a hard pruning annually to keep manageable. What about other pernnials that would give you color all through the growing season. What zone are you in? And, what kind of light does the area get? That would determine which plants would do best. I have a white fence as well. I have spring flowering perennials--lupine, peonies and poppies that bloom with my iris. In summer the area has daylilies, oriental lilies, daisies and other summer bloomers. In fall, I have mums, dahlias and state fair zinnias that grow and bloom. Of course, the hybrid roses bloom from June through a killing frost in the fall, so they are always a good choice. Anyway, I hope it works out for you--let me know what you decide to do! Thanks again for your comment.

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