Friday, September 29, 2006

Bearded Iris: Do's and Mostly Don'ts

You're doing a fabulous job. You're just doing it all wrong.

Such was the response when I asked why the Iris won't bloom. Top three crimes I've commit against my Bearded Iris:
  • Watered too often
  • Fertilized too much
  • Planted too deep
I love to meddle but Iris are drought-tolerant, easy-going bloomers who prefer I leave them alone. Plant on slopes for good drainage. (Wet soil causes the rhizome* to rot.) Expose rhizome tops to feel the warmth of the sun. Place roots deeper into the soil.

Go easy on the nitrogen. If you do fertilize, distribute near (not on) the plant, as that can burn the rhizome.

No mulch, unless they are new transplants. Pine needles work well, since they keep ground warm and do not retain water.

Some Bearded Iris varieties rebloom. These 3 should make a loud statement in spring and hopefully again in the fall: Orange Harvest, Stellar Lights, Gypsy Caravan.

* Treat reblooming Iris differently. A 10-10-10 fertilizer about two weeks after spring blooms, along with light watering, encourages second flowering in late summer/fall.

** A rhizome is an underground stem that sends out roots and shoots. For best blooms, Iris must be divided every 3-4 years. Right photo demostrates how rhizome should be divided for replanting.

*** Love Iris? So does Schreiners, the Iris experts. Click here to get their free Iris catalog. Fill your garden with sizzling new colors.

If you're a patient gardener, plant them 18 inches apart. Or, plant close together for a beautiful show the very first year. Divide the rhizomes and plant new Iris beds every 3 years. Younger Iris tend to be the most prolific bloomers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As far as not blooming goes, don't over look overcrowding. Mom had scores, if not hundreds of irises , and maybe 15-20 blooms per season, all because of this. -Blackmoon