Species iris for beginners
I've been growing species iris, mostly beardless for five years now.
Following is a list the ones that have done well for me with only a
modest amount of care. They are listed by series. At the end of the
list is a detailed description on my weather, so you know what my
species must endure.
These two are very easy and get no care except for some water in the
worst part of the summer.
I. orientalis (syn. ocroleuca) - A tall white with a yellow signal
and nice foliage, very commonly grown here, there are clumps in the
neighborhood that I know to be 20 + years old my guess is that they
are closer to 50+
I. graminea - I'll vote for this one too, tiny blue spuria, usually
described as scented but isn't for me, foliage is nothing to speak of
here, a little slow to increase but blooms well, easy from seed.
I have a little of experience with a few other spuria species. As a
whole they seem easier than the spuria cultivars I've tried.
The following series are moisture lovers and need extra water here in
the summer. I add soil acidifiers and fertilize as well because they
tend to be heavier feeders.
I. fulva - grows well but is some times temperamental. The best
garden specimen IMHO is the one sold as "dwarf"
I. nelsonii - more robust than I. fulva, a natural hybrid
I. hexagona - easy here may not be as hardy as the above
I. siberica - most if not all early Siberian cultivars are selections
of I. siberica, so you may already grow this one! The wild type I.
siberica is actually is actually growing better than my named
I. sanguinea - easy from seed, It's growing well but hasn't bloomed
for me yet.
Leavigatae (water iris):
I. virginica - I have three forms virginica, alba and shrevei,
shrevei is the most robust, but all three are good performers
I. ensata - JIs don't do well for me. The species is the best grower
and most reliable bloomer I have. It's a late bloomer and here the
flowers suffer in the heat. If you can grow JIs you can probably grow
I. leavigata - In spite of an alleged requirement for standing water,
this is quite content in my beardless iris bed.
Two hybrids which fall into this series are Roy Davidson (I.
pseudacorus X unknown) and Mountain Brook (I. virginica x I.
versicolor) both are good growers here.
I. lactea - It hasn't bloomed yet for me but, was easy from seed, and
has nice evergreen foliage. It is in a raised bed, but has received
no special care.
I. xiphium (Spanish iris) - This is a bulbous species, one of the
progenitors of the "Dutch" iris and culture is the same. Mine are a
commercially available mix.
Of the "easy" species mentioned in other posts I grow (have grown)
I. versicolor -This would have made my easy list last year but I
lost one and almost lost a second of my three forms this year.
I. cristata - doesn't perform well for me. My three year old "clump"
peaked at four fans and one bloom this year.
I. verna - Ditto, after two years my single fan died, and I'm close
to losing the replacement I purchased this fall.
I live in North Central TX on the border between Zones 7 and 8.
Annual rain fall is about 30 inches, very little snow. Record temps
are something like 8 and 118 deg F, while the typical extremes are
more like 15 to 105. Summers are hot and humid with little rain,
although two recent summers have been very wet. Winters are
generally mild, but occasionally we have stretches of several days of
sub freezing temp. Winters are wet. My soil is heavy clay based and
my drainage poor. The soil is alkaline and irrigation water very
alkaline. I'll add that there are no irises native to my region of