May 2013 Plant Profile: Pacific Coast Irises

May 3rd, 2013 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Iris 'Ami Royale'The Pacific Northwest is home to a remarkable assortment of plants that are the envy of other gardeners across the country and the Pacific Coast Iris hybrids are among them.

With their remarkable variation in colors, evergreen foliage and tolerance of drought and some shade, this type of iris has become quite the workhorse in the spring garden come late April and into May. Over the past few years, more and more Northwest gardeners are beginning to discover Pacific Coast irises and, in some cases, even collect the handful of named selections that exist.

Pacific Coast Iris hybrids are comprised of several species that exist throughout the west coast of Washington, Oregon and California. While straight native species such as I. douglasii and I. tenax are readily available and are fine garden plants, it’s these remarkable hybrids that gardeners crave. With grassy foliage and profuse flowers, they rarely get over 12″ tall and are wonderful planted in perennial beds and the ever-so-difficult spot of planting underneath a tree! Given time to establish, they are remarkably drought-tolerant and easy to care for.

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In the Soest Garden, we’ve introduced a plant that’s been passed around for many years, yet it hasn’t been properly registered as a named cultivar. It’s actually a division from a clump that’s growing at the Washington Park Arboretum where not many people get to see and enjoy it. This is a selection named ‘Ami Royale’.

 

Common Name: Pacific Coast Iris
Location: Soest Garden – Bed 7
Origin: Garden Origin
Height and Spread: 8-12″ high x 1.5 feet wide
Bloom Time:  Mid-Spring

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