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Growing Care

HOW TO GROW IRIS


SHIPMENT ARRIVAL: Plant rhizomes as soon after arrival as possible. If that is not possible, then remove iris rhizomes from shipping container and store in a cool dry area until planting area is ready. The sooner you plant them, the sooner they will get themselves established before winter. 

See below for Planting Directions

WHEN TO PLANT: Iris should be planted in July through September. If you can't plant them right away then be sure to plant at least 4-6 weeks before your first frost. If you live in an area that has a very cold winter, you may want to provide a mulch protection.
Iris in Bloom

WHERE TO PLANT: Iris need at least a half day of sunlight, however, in extremely hot climates some shade is helpful. Good drainage is important as iris do not like to sit in standing water. Iris can be grown in raised beds and half barrels or decorative pots as long as they are well drained. They may have to be dug more frequently than if they were in the ground. They should be watered regularly but not overwatered and should have enough room to grow.

SOIL PREPARATION: Iris will thrive in most garden soils. If soil is heavy, add compost to improve drainage. If you have problem soil, lime, sulphur, and gypsum are excellent soil conditioners. If possible, adjust soil to a neutral PH.

DEPTH TO PLANT: Plant iris so the tops of the rhizomes are barely covered and the roots spread out and down on each side of a slight planting mound. (see photos below).  In hot climates, cover rhizome lightly with one inch of soil. Firm soil and then water. A common mistake is to plant iris too deeply.

DISTANCE APART: Iris are generally planted 12 to 24 inches apart. They can be planted closer for immediate effect, but will need to be thinned out every other year.

WATERING: Newly set plants need moisture to establish their root system. Depending on your climate, keep soil moist but not soggy until the roots are established. After that, let the soil dry out a bit before watering. A deep watering every once in a while is more beneficial than frequent sprinklings. Overwatering is common and can rot iris. Rebloomers need to be watered a little more frequently in order to prepare them for their rebloom.

FERTILIZING: Give a light feeding in early Spring and a second application just after bloom. Go easy on high nitrogen fertilizers, (such as fresh manure) as they produce lots of lush green leaves, few flowers and encourage ROT. A well balanced fertilizer (6-20-20) can be lightly applied as a top dressing around and in between plants (not on the rhizome). Iris respond extremely well to a minimum of attention and while an iris will actually continue to grow without feeding and attention, they will not necessarily thrive or bloom profusely.


THINNING OUT: Iris need to be thinned and divided about every 3-4 years to produce flowers and good plant growth. Discard old inner rhizomes and just replant the newer outer ring of rhizomes after preparing the soil.

GENERAL GARDEN CARE: Keep iris clean of weeds and debris. Stalks can be cut close to the ground after bloom. Do not cut back healthy leaves, only diseased or brown ones should be removed. Keep diseased foliage out of the compost pile! At the end of Fall season (after their growing season is over) then trim the leaves low.
Planting and/or Dividing Your Iris
 

 

 When you know you are going to dig your iris beds, water the night before so as to loosen the soil.  Place a digging fork or shovel under the iris clump and lift.  Don't worry if something breaks off.  The main idea is to get them out of the ground so that you can work with them.

 

 

Cut or snap the individual rhizomes from the original rhizome

 

 

 Separate each individual rhizome from the original rhizome.  Each rhizome will have its own set of roots and leaves.  Discard the spent rhizome material in the center of the clump and keep the rhizomes with the green leaves.

 

 

 Trim the leaves on the rhizome to about 5-6 inches so that the plant will not tip over when planted. 

 

 

 Trim the roots also to about 5-6 inches.  Don't trim them too short as they will help to support the plant in the ground.

 

 

 Scoop out some loose soil and place the rhizome in the center.  Be careful not to place the plant too deep.  The top of the rhizome should be at the surface of the soil.

 

 

 Gently fill the dirt in around the rhizome.  When finished, water in.  Newly set plants need moisture to establish their root system.  Depending on your climate, keep soil moist but not soggy until the roots are established.  After that, you may water as needed.


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