The beautiful Iris is a very easy plant to grow.
There are two basic kinds of Iris; Bearded and plain. There are also miniatures that grow only eight inches tall as compared to the traditional Iris which grows up to about three feet tall.
The Iris is a perennial plant that grows from a root called a rhizome. Plant them about 12 inches apart. The rhizome should be planted even with the soil with the top of the rhizome above ground.
Plant Irises grow in full sun or partial shade. Iris plant needs well drained soil. Root rot can result if they are planted in soil that stays wet. Iris’s will tolerate drought , needing water only during the driest part of the summer. Fertilize lightly about 6 weeks before bloom time with organic fertilizer. Plant in July, August, or September. A little mulch will help keep down weeds but the rhizomes need sunshine so do not mulch very deeply.
Divide Iris every 3 to 4 years or when they stop producing a lot of blooms. This is a signal that they need more space. Dig up and plant only the newest part of the rhizome tossing the older parts into the compost pile. When transplanting be sure each rhizome has some root and at least a couple of leaves.
Irises aren't bothered by many insects. The root borer is the major pest of iris. It is a caterpillar that chews on the rhizomes and causes the rhizome to rot. Trips’ can cause damage to the buds but can be easily controlled by spraying insecticidal soap.
At the end of blooming time the stems should be cut off but the leaves should be left to grow the rest of the summer. The leaves are making food for the rhizome so the plant can flower again next season. Any leaves that have brown spots or look unhealthy should be removed.
Iris flowers have thin, upright foliage that adds a vertical accent to any container garden, bulb garden or mixed border planting. The grass-like foliage is thicker than most ornamental grass blades but still adds that movement to a landscape when planted in a mass.
For a winter interest in the garden, landscapers often use reticulata iris which will sometimes bloom right through the snow in late winter or early spring. The bright purple flowers bring a lot of color to the late winter garden even though their size in small only 6 inches tall.
Late spring to early summer blooming irises include the Siberian Iris , a beardless form, and the Juno group Irises , which have fragrant iris flowers.
Mid to late summer irises include many of the flag iris plants, the Japanese water iris ( and 'stinking iris'
Always keep your Iris beds clean and free of weeds. After they bloom, cut off bloom stems close to the ground. Watch for diseased or dying leaves, and remove them immediately. In the late fall or early winter, cut healthy leaves back to about six inches.
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