How to Care for Irises Like an Expert
Irises are beautiful flowers with incredible diversity! With more than 70,000 registered varieties, these impressive perennials can be planted almost everywhere in the United States, except in some extremely hot southern regions.
"Irises come in all the colors of the rainbow," said Gary White, immediate past president of the American Iris Society.
"Their heights range from a few centimeters to one and a half meters, so they can be planted in the middle, behind or in front of the edges, in rock gardens and in all kinds of gardens."
Even better? They are relatively inexpensive and will multiply so you can divide and transplant them elsewhere in your garden or share them with friends in a few years.
Here's what you need to know about these stunning flowers.
There are two main categories of iris
The two groups are bearded irises and bearded irises. Bearded irises are the most popular; On the flower petals, they have an elongated lock of hair that looks like (you guessed it!) a beard with large colored flowers.
The beard irises do not have the telltale "beard," but a flash of color at the throat of the flower.
The most widely cultivated of this type are Siberian Irises, which are tolerant of a wide variety of climates and soils, White says.
Other types of beardless irises include Japan, Louisiana, Spuria, and the Pacific Coast.
What kind of light do irises need?
For starters, most irises prefer full sun, which means at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day.
"Some Irises tolerate some shade as long as they are at least 6 hours old," says White. In hot climates, Siberians and Japanese don't mind afternoon shade because they don't like heat. In northern areas, these types tolerate full sun.
How do I plant Irises?
Iris bulbs, which are actually called rhizomes, look like a long, thin sweet potato. "Rhizomes are technically elongated stems," says White.
"The leaves and the flowers come out of this stem." Place some compost in the soil in your planting area, then space the rhizomes about one foot to two feet apart for bearded ones and two to three feet apart for bearded ones.
Don't overload them because good air circulation helps prevent disease.
Now here's the important part: don't plant the iris too deep! It is one of the most frequent mistakes and is a common reason why Irises do not bloom.
For bearded irises, place the top of the rhizome 1 inch below the soil surface so that the top is above the ground.
That's right: they like to sunbathe! Bearded irises can get a little deeper, two to three inches below the surface. If there is mulch, do not cover the rhizome, just apply it.
Water newly planted Irises well and re-water if it hasn't rained for a week. In the first winter, cover new plants with evergreen twigs or pine needles to protect the rhizomes from the freeze-thaw cycle.
Should I fertilize my iris plant?
If your soil is fertile, you don't need to fertilize it at all. But if you have medium or low soil, feed it after the first year in the soil.
In late winter or early spring, give them a slow-release balanced granular formula of 10-10-10, 6-10-10, or 6-12-12 ratios of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium ( K).
"You don't want the first number, which is nitrogen, to be too high or you'll get beautiful foliage but no flowers," says White.
Divide the irises when they are too full
Irises normally need to be divided every few years, but it depends a lot on growing conditions.
When you see a thicket with rhizomes pushing against each other, overlapping, and growing on top of each other, or no longer blooming well, it's time to divide.
You can dig the entire bush and restore the pieces elsewhere, or you can take pieces from the edges of the bush.
With bearded Irises, use a fork or shovel to lower and lift the rhizomes off the ground. You will see new baby rhizomes, called "augmentations," all over the mother's rhizome.
The parent rhizome will have the tip of the flower stem attached to it; you can discard it because this part of the rhizome won't flower again, White says.
Bearded Irises have a fibrous root system (they can be difficult to cut!), So you use a shovel to grab a piece of the border and replant it elsewhere.
We hope you enjoy this video about Irises care after flowering:
Source: Catherine Moravec
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