A-to-Z Challenge, garden

Iris Care Basics – I is for Iris

Irises are fairly easy to grow, and with the right conditions, will give you year after year of late spring color.


Do iris flowers need sun or shade?

I have told the tale of my first iris experience, and learned the slow way that iris do enjoy the sun.  After 2 years of lovely greens, I finally moved my plants to a sunny location, and wala!  I chose the perfect location since iris appreciate 6-8 hours of direct sun daily.  A well-drained soil is important as well.

yellow iris

What kind of fertilizer should I use for iris?

Fertilize in mid to late April with bone meal, superphosphate, or a fertilizer low in nitrogen such as 6-10-10 (see my discussion of organic fertilizers here).  Fertilizers high in nitrogen tend to cause bacterial rot and lush, but weak, foliage growth. When selecting fertilizers for irises, be sure that the 2nd and 3rd numbers are bigger than the 1st.

What do you do with irises after they are done blooming?

Once all of the flowers have wilted, cut back all the flower stems to the base of the plant.  Cut out any brown or damaged leaves.  Once the leaves start to yellow in the fall, you will want to cut the leaves down to about 6 inches.  My dad always cut them back to form small fans, probably because they just look better that way.

How do you divide irises?

To divide your iris, start by lifting the clump of iris plants out of the ground with a spade or fork.  If possible, lift the entire mass out whole, but if you are unable to do this, carefully break the clump into smaller parts and lift these out.

Beverly Sills


When should you divide irises?

The best time to plant and transplant rhizomatous iris is late July through September. Iris loves the heat and drier weather of summer and the summer dividing will reduce the incidence of bacterial soft rot. Most rhizomatous iris should be divided every three to five years.

variety unknown – my baseball mom surprise




Trying to stay ahead of this game is nearly impossible!  But the I’s have it today!

7 thoughts on “Iris Care Basics – I is for Iris”

  1. Elizabeth,
    Our neighbors who lived next door years ago had the best spelling irises. I always enjoyed them when they were in bloom. Unfortunately, they moved a long time ago and somewhere in the shuffle of newbies who moved in and out the irises were uprooted. So sad, is it not? Anywho I really miss that spring scent. Thanks for sharing your gardening tips. I will not attempt to do anything that requires a green thumb because I will absolutely kill it! 🙂 Thanks for visiting and happy A2Zing!
    Curious as a Cathy
    A2Z iPad Art Sketch ‘Indians’


  2. I love iris! I have three different beds of them. The one in the front yard started blooming yesterday. It’s dark purple, smaller flowers than some. In the back I have some mixed bearded in solid colors and another bed of some yellow/rusty colors. I got all three types free on Craigslist! Two were from divisions, one neglected in very small bulb bowls, that were originally from one of my city parks.
    I give my divisions away on CL too. People are thrilled to get them! My neighbors already have their fill!
    The only problems I have had was when they were planted in a low area, and sat in water. I had to raise the bed with rock edges, add more soil and replant them above water level!
    I cut mine back from the two sides up to a point, rather like a chevron look. It makes a big difference to how messy the beds look all winter, and how much clean-up they need in the spring! None if I cut them back.
    I love your pictures. Beverly Sills is gorgeous!


    1. Dividing is actually good for them, because if they get too crowded they will stop producing flowers. It’s best to wait until after they flower to divide as the shock may keep them from blooming.

      Liked by 1 person


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s