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.

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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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flowers, garden

May is Busting Out!

A recent walk through the gardens reveals that yes, indeed, spring has sprung!  If I’m not careful, I’m gonna miss it!  It’s amazing to me how fleeting this season is.  I look forward, as I’m sure you do as well, to the blooming of the flowers.  They don’t last long, though!

The crabapple bloomed just in time for prom season.

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Roses for prom

Brittany looked simply divine, and I was so pleased that the crabapple waited until the weekend of May 3 to burst into bloom.

Amazingly, the blooms lasted all of a week, until a strong wind storm blew all the blossoms all over the neighborhood.

The azaleas have passed their prime, little over a week did they stay.

And now I’m thoroughly enjoying the irises.

A few years back, I found a lonely bag of irises under a bench at the softball field.  I’m sure one of the other softball moms brought them to share, but they were left behind.  I kept my eye on that bag until after the game, and when no one claimed them, I rescued them myself.

It has taken a few years, and a few relocations, but I think I’ve finally hit the jackpot with the current location.

I will never forget the excitement that first year waiting for the irises to bloom.  I had no idea what variety I had found.  I was secretly hoping for a blue one, but these purple ones were not a disappointment!  And I could not beat that price!

I did not have much hope that any of them were going to bloom this year.  Every day, I would go out and take a peep between the greens.  I hope they do forgive me, for I did feel a bit aggressive checking under the hood, so to speak.  But quite magically, one day I went out to an array of spikes that must have shot up overnight, I kid you not!

And seriously, these guys bloom at night.  I was watching the buds getting ready to burst one evening late last week, and the next morning I woke up to a purple garden that took my breath away!

And Beverly Sills has made her appearance as well.  She was the lone bloomer last year, and I do believe she really appreciates some company at the party this year.

I’m sorry to say that a heavy rain storm yesterday afternoon may have ruined these beautiful blooms, but there are more to come.  Hopefully, the rain will hold off long enough for me to catch my breath, as well as a few more pictures to share.

The Bachelor’s button is so much fun to photograph.  I got a little daring with the macro lens this past weekend, and got some truly amazing shots.

No wonder we look forward to spring, all year long!  But as I said, take a moment to enjoy it.  It won’t be around for long.