Plants - Perennials

Irresistible irises: Secrets to eight weeks of blooms

Yvonne Cunnington
Photography by
Tracy Cox

With a bit of planning, you can enjoy a colourful array of bearded irises throughout spring and early summer

The best bearded blooms

Some cultivars bloom a second time in late summer and into fall, but don't expect as many flowers. "Extra watering and fertilizing over summer encourages reblooming," says Chuck Chapman, an iris hybridizer, "but it isn't guaranteed - temperatures and moisture levels affect the quality and quantity of the later flowering." He cautions that many irises listed as rebloomers in U.S. catalogues and on websites won't perform as well in Canada because of our shorter growing season and colder winters.

The following bearded irises rebloom best in Chapman's own Zone 5b garden, near Guelph, Ontario (the ones marked with an asterisk are cultivars he has bred):

Miniature Dwarf
'Forever Violet'

Miniature Tall
'Lady Emma'

Standard Dwarf
'Baby Blessed', 'Blueberry Tart', 'Forever Blue', 'Frankincense', 'Hot', 'Little Showoff', 'What Again'

'Blessed Again', 'Lo Ho Silver', 'Precious Little Pink'

'Cantina', 'Clarence', 'Immortality', 'Pink Attraction', 'Queen Dorothy', 'Rosalie Figge', 'Total Recall'

Photo: ‘supreme sultan’

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