Douglas iris (Iris douglasiana) is beautiful as a border, groundcover or part of a flowerbed. Native of the West Coast and found in the wild from Santa Barbara all the way to Oregon, Douglas iris varies from dark purple to white. It loves moist soil but can also adapt to drought-prone areas. Learn how to grow this beautiful flower with the tips below.
Photo courtesy of Penny Wilson
If you're in a hot inland climate, give your Douglas iris a spot in part or full shade. Plant it as a border along a lawn or in a mixed bed of perennials, where it benefits from the regular water, tilling and feeding that goes into a traditional flower garden.
Douglas iris can also be happy in a drought-tolerant native garden. In areas with really low rainfall, it will need some additional irrigation. Grow it with other plants that have similar water requirements, like California fuchsia and gooseberry.
As a native of the northern Pacific coast, Douglas iris tolerates bad drainage and high moisture, but can also handle summer drought in areas with higher winter and spring rainfall. So try planting in areas of the garden with drainage problems. It can even grow in areas of the yard where water pools in the winter.
Plant Douglas iris seedlings in April or May in your native soil, spacing them about 6-12 inches apart. During the first growing season. water them to maintain high soil moisture throughout the summer. If you have particularly dry soil, amend it with a product such as Miracle-Gro® Moisture Control® Garden Soil. After a year, you should only need to water your Douglas iris during dry spells, and you'll likely start to see blooms during the second year.
Prune Douglas iris in fall, removing the old and browned leaves at the center of the plant. At this time, it's also a good idea to add a 3-inch layer of mulch to the soil around the plants, particularly if you live in a dry area.
Douglas iris tends to go dormant under stress. In cold winters and dry summers, it may seem to vanish. Don't panic - you're seeing the plant's natural survival mechanism. As soon as the weather warms in spring or winter rains return, you should see it reemerge, healthy and happy as ever.
Original article by Penny Wilson