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Japanese Garden Plants
This is where to find details on plants. We don't have a lot of images, but we'll be providing articles and details as we are able. If you have materials to contribute or gaps to fill in, please let us know.

Japanese Name:ayame, hana-shoubu, ichihatsu, shaga, kakitsubata 
English Name:Iris, Flag 
Latin Name:Iris sp. 
Sub Type: 
Native Habitat:marsh or pond/lake shore; meadow; forest 
Light:full sun to partial shade 
Soil:moist to well-drained 
Flower Color:white, yellow, blue, indigo, purple 
Bloom Time:April - June 
Uses:water side, under a tree, massed 
Last Updated:12/30/2000 
Details: Irises are a bulbous or rhyzomatous native to northern temperate regions all over the world. Their distinctive flowers consist of three inner petals or 'standards' nested inside three outer petals or 'falls'. But other than these characteristics, iris flowers vary enormously in terms of size and color. They have been used for centuries in Chinese, Japanese and Korean gardens and are usually planted in large masses on the edge of a pond or stream, though one must be careful as not all irises tolerate wet soils. Most prefer full sun. Many will tolerate partial shade, but they will likely flower less. If the iris is not a 'wet' iris, it will need well-drained soil.

Irises are usually propagated through division. They usually need to be planted very close to the surface - almost poking through the surface. Most will benefit from mulch applied during the summer and if you are in a cold climate, they will usually also need a winter mulch.

Iris cristata - Crested Iris: Zone 4. grows up to 6 inches with small dark lilac-colored flowers in early spring though there are cultivars with colors from white to blue. This is a rhyzomatous variety and does not usually require division. It is also one of the shade-tolerant varieties that can become a dense ground cover. It requires well-drained soil. It can be planted in the sun if the soil is kept moist.

Iris ensata - Japanese Iris, Sword-leaved Iris (hana-shôbu): Zone 5. This has never been a wild variety and is the result of breeding. It is a huge plant that can reach more than one meter (3-4 ft) in height with large, flattish flowers that bloom in June and vary in color from purplish red to purple, indigo and white. This variety likes moist areas but can withstand some dryness. It is bulbous and propagated through division. Like the I. laevigata, it often appears in mass plantings on a water edge. It can be potted and cut. Varieties: Thungergii var. spontanea Nakai (no-hana-shobu

Iris japonica - Fringed Iris (shaga): This is one iris still found in the wild, often in shady shady locations. The flowers are more flat than other irises with a pale lilac color, small white fringed standards, purple speckles, and yellow blotches. The individual flowers do not last long but several will appear in succession on the same stalk.

Iris laevigata - Rabbit-ear Iris (kakitsubata/kaobana): this native of central and northern Japan and eastern mainland Asia can reach more than half a meter (2-4 ft) in height. It produces deep purple flowers in May or June. Cultivars can be white pink or yellow. It prefers sunny areas, moist ground and can grow well in clayey soil. It does not tolerate parched conditions. It is a bulbous variety that is propagated by division in the fall. This is one fo the varieties that is planted en mass on the water edge though it can appear under large trees and between garden stones. It can also be potted or cut. Varieties: f. albopurpurea Makino (washinoo); f. leucanthum Makino (shiro-kakitsubata)

Iris sanguinea - Ayame Iris (ayame/hana-ayaame): This native of Japan, Korea and Siberia can grow up to a meter in height. The flowers are violet-blue tinged with yellow at the bottom of the petals and bloom in May/June. It prefer sunny, moist ground and transplants well. It is bulbous and can be propagated through division. This is a very old variety in Japan that often appears in classical poetry and other literature. It can be planted close to the water's edge, at the foot of trees or between rocks. Varieties: var. albiflora Makino (shiro-ayame); var. pumila Makino (chabo-ayame); var. violacea Makino (kamayama-shôbu)

Iris siberica - Siberian Iris: Zone 2. This is one of the smaller irises that tolerates northern climates. Its small flowers appear in all shades of blue, purple, indigo and white. It can tolerate poor, dry soil 

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