Sunday, September 11, 2016

Iris Planting and Care

This is the time of year the tall bearded iris become available for sale.
Tall bearded Iris are sold as individual roots, called rhizomes which are found in the bulb section.
Tall bearded Iris can also be planted from starts. Tall bearded Iris starts, in a variety of colors, are found in the Perennial section. Whichever you choose, tall bearded iris are ready to purchase and plant now. While you're shopping for bearded iris, you may notice some boxes are labeled "Blooms Spring and Fall". These are "reblooming" iris, that is iris that have been developed to produce blooms in the spring and again in the fall. Whether you choose the reblooming varieties or not, there are certain things to do to ensure the success of your iris for many seasons to come. Iris will do okay in clay soils, but they will thrive in well-amended soils. Take time to improve the planting site by adding compost or peat moss. These amendments should be mixed about 50:50 with the existing soil.
Next, add some Bone Meal, working it into the soil. You’re now ready to plant your iris rhizomes.
There is a “front and back” to iris rhizomes, a toe and a heel. The leaf indicates the heel side. Iris will grow in the direction of the heel, so keep that in mind when you're planting, especially if they're going to be growing along a path or fence.
Another important factor to remember when you're planting your iris rhizomes is to avoid planting too deep. Iris do their best when planted so the top of the rhizome is right at the soil level. If you plant iris too deep, the leaves may develop but chances are it won't bloom.

This is also the time to divide bearded iris.  Over time, iris become crowded and they stop blooming, so it’s important to dig and divide iris every so often in order to reinvigorate the plant. 
Irises grow in clumps and the root of an iris is called a rhizome. It is the rhizome that we are going to lift carefully, using a garden fork. Once out of the ground, cut or break apart the rhizomes into sections, each with a healthy set of leaves and firm, tan/white roots.
Get rid of rhizomes that are soft, mushy or have holes in them. Holes indicate the presence of iris borers, so you will want to treat the rhizomes you choose to keep, with a garden dust such as Eight.
Next, cut the leaves back in a fan shape to about a third of their length and mark them.
You are now ready to plant your iris, following the same guidelines outlined earlier in this article. Your iris will establish themselves through the fall and early winter and be ready to bloom for you next spring and in some cases, next fall.

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