The Best Irises for Gardening in Minnesota

In Minnesota, many gardens come alive in late spring and early summer with the vibrant colors of irises. These flowers are among the easiest to grow in our climate, and there are a variety of species and cultivars to choose from. The most common types of irises are the tall bearded iris (Iris germanica) and the Siberian iris (Iris siberica). The bearded iris comes in a range of colors, except for true red or orange, and they can range from dwarves just a few inches tall to those with stems up to 3 feet.

The non-bearded iris (Siberian and Japanese) has a range of colors from white and light yellow to blue, purple and some reddish tones. The Siberian iris is a great choice for Minnesota gardens as it offers a beautiful display all season long, with its foliage staying erect throughout the summer. The Japanese iris (Iris japonica) has large, flat flowers in a variety of colors, mainly white, blue and purple. There are 516 copies of these irises in the collection.

They also tolerate most common garden soils and are among the easiest lilies to grow in most regions. The yellow iris (Iris pseudacorus) is an invasive species regulated by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Minnesota. Irises range from small forest groundcovers to spectacular flowers for the sunny edge and species that thrive in swampy soils. When planting an iris garden, consider adding a variety of different kinds of irises as generally speaking, the shorter the iris, the sooner it will bloom.

The different species range from low ground covers such as Iris cristata which is only 6 inches tall to some of the large Japanese irises that are 3 to 4 feet tall. The tall bearded iris has wavy edged petals or other ornaments more often than other groups of irises. Bearded lilies are the most commonly available in Minnesota and come in hundreds of varieties in colors ranging from dark purple to cream. A phenomenon caused by the weather called polyethylene petal can occur where an iris flower will have more parts than it normally has.

To get the most out of your garden, consider planting your irises in the middle of a perennial garden so that plants that bloom later can hide the iris foliage.The yellow iris is a perennial, herbaceous and aquatic plant whose leaves and flowers grow above the surface of the water. To learn more about several species and cultivars of irises, visit the Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder.