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.

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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.

Iris

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.

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variety unknown – my baseball mom surprise

 

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

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Fleur-de-Lis

A flower for France.

yellow iris

yellow iris

I sit here this morning trying to understand what was happening in France last night, but I cannot.

In this increasingly global world we live in, it seems that we are becoming closer to those everywhere.  Today, Paris feels like a city across the river, not an ocean away. Today, we all feel a little closer to France.

One of my favorite bloggers, Cecelia from The Kitchen’s Garden, is currently hosting a young man from France.  Hugo is about the age of my youngest, and I’m following his experience on the farm in Illinois through the camera lens of Celi.  Last night, he was following the horrific events in his homeland via his laptop.  I cannot imagine his horror.

My own son’s friend from high school recently took a job in Paris.  We pray that Molly is safe.

Senseless killings, and they could have been right across the river.  They could have been right here.  But why?

I cannot pretend to understand.

world trade center

We feel your pain

Isn’t She Lovely!

For the past 3 weeks or so, I’ve been walking around the gardens taking special notes and photos of the flowers as they bloom.

And for about a week now, I’ve been waiting for the bursting of the bud.

My newest iris did the bursting today!  I don’t know if the rain we received early this morning did it, but when I walked outside to get into my car to go to work, I glanced over at the Butterfly Garden and there she was!

Pink Iris

Beverly Sills Iris

Isn’t she lovely!

 

 

A beautiful surprise

I walked outside to get the paper yesterday, and on my way back to the house, I glanced over at my newest garden.  I planted it last summer, moving a few of the plants from other locations in the yard where they really weren’t happy, and making a new playground for them.  Making these moves in the late summer can be a tricky thing.

There was something white waving to me as I approached the house.  Was it a tossed paper that made its way to my yard?  Closer inspection revealed a new flower!  Three tiny irises were out and showing off!  I swear I was expecting yellow irises.  I thought I remembered transplanting some yellow ones that didn’t care for the shady location I had them in.  But these were beautiful white with a bit of yellow inside.  I have no idea where they came from, but I know I transplanted them last fall.  Apparently, they were so unhappy wherever they were that I don’t think they ever bloomed.

Then again, they may have been in a location of the yard that I don’t see that often, and if they did bloom, I missed them.  But I didn’t miss them this year.

When I create a new garden, I do try to keep a garden log of what I’ve done.  And I know I made a map of what I planted – just where did I put it?  The element of surprise is one of my favorite parts of spring!

Surprises to you!