Featured Plant

Iris

The beautiful iris, named for the Greek goddess who personified the rainbow, is blooming throughout the city and in our gardens at Assiniboine Park now that the summer months have arrived. This colourful perennial is a popular choice amongst gardeners due to its hardiness, beauty, and low maintenance care. 

There are hundreds of species of iris, with the most common being the Bearded Iris. Most irises bloom in spring or early summer in a variety of colours with some of the most common in being purple, lavender, blue, white, and yellow. This flower has three large outer petals called “falls” and three inner petals called “standards”. Irises are known for attracting wildlife like butterflies and hummingbirds to gardens. 

Irises should be planted in mid-summer to allow plenty of time to establish roots before the cooler weather arrives. The iris requires good drainage, so raised beds are ideal for planting. Ensure your planting location receives full sun for at least half the day. One of the most common missteps when planting irises is planting too deep – the rhizome should be planted about four to five inches deep with the roots pointed down, and the rhizome can remain partially exposed. 

Although the bearded iris is the most common of the family, the Siberian iris is another beautiful variety worth growing at home. The Siberian iris is very hardy, withstanding wind, rain, and cold weather, and requires very little care. Plant this variety’s rhizomes with the crowns just one inch below the soil level.

Irises have relatively low water requirements once they are established. After irises have finished blooming, avoid trimming the leaves as they will aid in the next year’s growth. You may cut off any brown tips and the flowering stalks to discourage rot. Irises are deer resistant, making them an excellent choice for Assiniboine Park and the surrounding area. 

Another variation, the yellow flag iris, is considered an invasive species in Manitoba. Due to its rapid reproduction through seed dispersal and horizontal root systems, dense groupings of this iris exclude native wetland species, threatening plant and animal diversity. Seeds disperse in the wind and water, and up to several hundred flowering plants may be connected. 

Irises can be found in the English Garden at Assiniboine Park and the Shirley Richardson Butterfly Garden at the Zoo.

Sources:
The Old Farmer’s Almanac Iris | The Old Farmer’s Almanac Siberian Iris | Invasive Species Council of Manitoba | Garden Design
 

 
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