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plant irises in your garden for smiles - year after year
*** PLANT IRISES UPON RECEIVING ***
Deciding where to plant your new tall bearded irises: Tall bearded irises are sun lovers. They will flourish when planted with full sun in your garden or flower beds. They do need a minimum of 6 hours of sun daily to reward you with a good stand of blooms. They grow in most well drained soils (They DO NOT like soggy “boggy” mucky soaking wet soil or standing water.) Other than that, full sun and a well drained soil will make your new tall bearded iris plants very happy and give you much visual pleasure in return.
Soil Preparation: Adding sulfur to your soil makes it more acidic, Lime makes it more alkaline. Irises generally like a ph of around 6.8 however they will generally do quite well in most soils without micromanaging the soil’s ph.
Planting your new iris rhizomes: It is recommended that you plant/transplant irises any time during the months of July through September. It is best not to disturb iris plants while they are blooming in spring. Generally wait until several weeks to a month after the plant has finished blooming. This is generally when the plant enters its dormant period. We always recommend that you plant your new irises as soon as you receive them. If you do not have your beds prepared, either store them for a short period of time in a cool dry place or temporarily plant them in a large flower pot until ready to put them in their permanent place. Irises are very hardy but we still recommend being conscientious about getting them into the soil as quickly as you can.
Distance apart and depth: We recommend planting your irises approximately 18” apart. (even up to 2 feet is just fine- this will allow you to leave your iris clumps for up to four years undisturbed.) The iris rhizomes should be planted with the roots and the rhizome (the firm body (bulb-like part) below the soil. All the “fan” shaped greens must be above the soil. (See drawing example to the right.) The rhizomes love the sun that warms the soil around them so they need to be near the surface. Firmly pack the soil around rhizome after planting and water in well to induce new root growth. Water every few days for about two weeks. New green growth should be visible in two to four weeks after planting.
Watering your irises: Irises are a very hardy plant and require very minimal watering except during times of extreme hot and dry periods. Nature does a pretty awesome job of taking care of them for most of the year otherwise. Rhizome rot can occur from continuous overwatering.
Thinning/Dividing your iris clumps: After several years (3 to 5 years depending upon how close you plant your initial rhizomes) the plants will need to be dug up and divided. Overcrowding can result in your plants not blooming much and can be cause them to be susceptible to disease. Dividing the clump and replanting them with adequate room again, will ensure good bloom season the following years.
Weeding and Care: Some people love to weed their flower beds. Others prefer to treat their flower garden with TREFLAN (available at your local co-op) or some other pre-emergent herbicide like PREEN found in hardware stores or discount retail store’s garden centers. Following pre-emergent directions. It is recommended to treat your garden area in early spring and again in the fall to retard new weed growth. Keeping weed and grass seeds from sprouting and growing will minimize your weeding tasks. Also remove dried dead leaves and old bloom stalks. Some areas of the country it is suggested to cut back leaves to about 6”. This will help prevent dead or withering leaves from covering the rhizomes.
Fertilizing your iris garden: Irises do not like much (if any) nitrogen. A low nitrogen 0-10-10 product like BEAUTY BLOOM or a 6-12-12 BONE MEAL product is recommended. Fertilize in early spring and a month or so after bloom season ends.
Wintering your irises: Newly planted irises can use a little extra protection during cold winters. Soil may be used to cover the rhizomes as well as pine needles and straw. This should be done in late fall but then removed as the new growth of leaves begins appearing in early spring. However, established irises rarely need winter cover.
Disclaimer: Irises are subject to natural hazards and we cannot be responsible for conditions in other gardens. However, following the suggestions and instructions on this page will greatly aid in the blessings your irises will give you.