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Named for the Greek goddess of the rainbow, iris indeed comes in a rainbow of colors and in many heights. All have the classic, impossibly intricate flowers. The flowers are constructed with three upright "standard" petals and three drooping "fall" petals, which are often different colors. The falls may be "bearded" or not. Some cultivars bloom a second time in late summer. Some species prefer alkaline soil while others prefer acidic soil.
Shown above: Immortality iris
Part Sun, Sun
Under 6 inches to 3 feet
6 inches to 2 feet wide
more varieties for Iris
'Bennerup Blue' Siberian iris
Iris sibirica 'Bennerup Blue' produces cobalt-blue flowers with small white blotches. It grows 2 feet tall. Zones 3-9
'Champagne Elegance' iris
Iris 'Champagne Elegance' has glamorous fragrant flowers, several per stem, that have pale buff-apricot falls with amber beards and white standards faintly blushed pink. This tall bearded type may rebloom in late summer. It grows 3 feet tall. Zones 4-9
Iris cristata is a wild form native to areas of North America. It bears blue, white, or purple flowers in spring over tiny clumps of sword-shape foliage and grows to 1 foot tall. Zones 3-9
'Electric Rays' iris
Iris ensata 'Electric Rays' is a Japanese iris with large double violet flowers streaked with white. This award-winning variety grows 3 feet tall. Zones 5-9
Iris forrestii, a striking yellow Siberian iris, grows about 16 inches tall and has mildly fragrant flowers. It blooms best when given some afternoon shade. Zones 4-9
'Harpswell Snowburst' Siberian iris
Iris sibirica 'Harpswell Snowburst' offers blue-violet flowers edged in white. It grows 3 feet tall. Zones 3-9
Iris 'Immortality' is a tall bearded type that offers pure-white flowers. It commonly reblooms in fall and grows 3 feet tall. Zones 4-9
Iris chrysographes is known for its especially dark purple-red fragrant flowers. It blooms in early summer and grows 2 feet tall. Zones 7-9
Iris danfordiae is an early-blooming bulb with single yellow flowers in late winter. It grows 6 inches tall. Zones 5-8
Iris fulva has 4-inch-wide coppery-red flowers that are yellow at the center but without beards. The swordlike leaves may reach 4 feet tall. Zones 4-9
'Satozakura' Japanese iris
Iris ensata 'Satozakura' prefers to grow in water or damp places where soil is acidic. Its large, somewhat flat mauve to rosy-pink flowers are yellow at the throat and conspicuously veined. Clumps grow to 3 feet tall. Zones 6-9
'White Swirl' Siberian iris
Iris sibirica 'White Swirl' makes tough clumps of narrow green sword-shape leaves. In midsummer, each stem blooms with several 1- to 2-inch pure-white flowers touched with yellow at the base. Zones 3-9
Yellow flag iris
Iris pseudacorus grows vigorously in wet places. Its thick clumps of grayish spearlike leaves may reach 4 feet tall. In late spring and summer, 2-inch yellow flowers appear on strong stems. It may become invasive. Zones 5-8
plant Iris with
If you have a hot, dry spot with excellent drainage, you must give thrift a try. A small, tidy plant, it covers itself with adorable bobbing pink flowers. It's a charming groundcover, edging plant, or rock garden feature. When planted in large groups, it forms a mat of attractive grassy foliage and colorful marble-size balls of flowers.Also called sea pink, this tough plant tolerates wind, sea spray, and is drought-tolerant. They do need well-drained soil to prevent root rot.
Take a walk down the primrose path and you'll never look back! Primroses are a classic cottage flower and are popular with collectors. They covet the hundreds of different primroses available, especially some of the tiny rare alpine types.Many are staples of cottage gardens and rock gardens, while others provide spring color to damp places, rain gardens, and bog gardens. Their basal rosettes of oval leaves are often puckered or are very smooth. The colorful flowers may be borne singly or rise in tiered clusters, or even spikes. Provide humus-high soil that retains moisture and some shade for best results.
Perhaps the best-loved perennials, herbaceous peonies belong in almost every garden. Their sumptuous flowers -- single, semidouble, anemone centered or Japanese, and fully double -- in glorious shades of pinks and reds as well as white and yellow announce that spring has truly arrived. The handsome fingered foliage is usually dark green and remains good-looking all season long. Provide deep rich soil with plenty of humus to avoid dryness, and don't plant the crowns more than 2 inches beneath the surface. But these are hardly fussy plants. Where well suited to the climate, they can thrive on zero care.
Lupine draws the eye skyward with its gorgeously colored and interestingly structured flower spikes. Bicolor Russell hybrids are the most popular type. Their large pea-like flowers come in amazing colors and combinations, clustered in long spikes on sturdy stems.Lupine prefers light, well-drained soil that is slightly acidic, and it does not tolerate heat or humidity well. It performs best in areas with cool summers, especially the Pacific Northwest.