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Siberian and Japanese Irises

In last week’s “Gardening Corner,” I wrote about tall, bearded iris, which some gardeners plant as late spring to early summer focal points. There is no denying the beauty and grace of these ruffled popstars, but intermediate bearded cultivars and dwarf varieties can also offer color and charm to small garden beds and containers.

If you have plenty of bearded irises, consider Siberian (Iris siberica) or Japanese (Iris ensata) irises. Both are beardless species that will add variety in size, color, and bloom time to your beds and borders. Another member of the Siberian iris group, Iris sanguinea, native to Russia, Korea, and Japan, is sometimes called Siberian iris. Iris japonica, native to woodlands in Japan and China, is also known as Japanese iris.

Siberian iris (I. siberica) is native to Central Europe, Ukraine, and Central Asia. In North America, Siberian iris grows in USDA Hardiness Zones 3-9. Unlike sun-loving bearded iris, Siberian iris requires light to moderate shade du...

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