As the weather warms and we move into June here in southeast Michigan the flowers of spring are beginning to give way to the early summer flowers. Although the weather has confused a few plants, it does seem that most plants are back on track. One of our favorite late spring/early summer flowers is the deep purple blooms of the Caesar’s Brother Siberian Iris.
The Siberian family of irises have a distinctively different look than the traditional iris. The leaves are more comparable to a wide bladed perennial grass or a narrow-leafed day lily and look like they belong growing next to the water somewhere. They are a very lush, solid green and grow in a neat clump that slowly spreads out in a circular fashion. The leaves only reach about 2 and a half feet tall but the blooms shoot up to around 4 feet.
The blooms are the highlight of the plant. Even before they open you get a sense of what is coming. Right now I have a mature plant that starting blooming a few days ago and continues to add more and more brilliantly deep purple flowers. Normally, a dark flower doesn’t stand out from a distance and are better appreciated up close. The Caesar’s Brother Siberian Iris is an exception to this rule though. The brilliance of the flowers makes them visible from quite a distance. People will notice them along your house as they drive by or as soon as they pull in your driveway. Just watch out, they make perfect cut flowers, so make sure no one tries to snip a few off!
Speaking from a design perspective I love to use these as accent plants or in smaller groupings of 3 plants. They are a very effective transition plant between other plant groupings or hedge rows. They create a soft transition and offer superb seasonal color. When used as a grouping I like to stagger 3 plants as a backdrop to some brighter colored perennials. The deep, lush green of the leaves is an excellent backdrop for colorful, large-leaf perennials like coral bell and variegated hosta, or for a truly spectacular floral display that is sure to turn heads. Try planting with ‘Fireball’ Geum. The contrast between the bright orange flowers and the brilliant deep purple blossoms creates a dimension of color that is not often seen.
As you may have picked up on, these irises thrive in conditions where they receive plenty of moisture and get full sun or close to full sun. A rich soil, high in organic matter seems to suit them.
Caesar’s Brother Siberian Iris are at home in a number of different garden styles. They can be utilized in a cottage garden, around water features, in more formal or traditional gardens, or in country gardens. The predictable and neat growth pattern helps them be quite versatile when placed properly.
As an added bonus, the flowers provide two more interesting traits. The stalks stay up and seed pods develop. These large green pods stay upright the rest of the season and then, as the fall moves towards winter, the pods turn brown and open. The open pods create are very unique looking and will stay standing all winter, providing winter interest. We covered adding winter interest without using evergreens in this article if you want to learn more.
For more detailed information, check out the stat sheets from our friends at Monrovia:
If you’re interested in learning more about how to add some color to your landscape. Head on over to www.MillerLandscapeInc.com and let us know what you’re looking for.