Not much. Ordinarily, average rainfall is adequate. The
fastest way to kill your irises is to water them excessively during the
summer when it is hot. In drought conditions water deeply with a
soaker hose about every 10 to 14 days.
Plant new irises immediately after you get them. When
each new plant is in the ground, remove the stapled name tag and insert it
in the soil in front of the iris. Irises need at least six to eight weeks to get well established before winter
Every three to four years you should dig, thin, and
replant bearded irises in late summer or early autumn. Keep the rhizomes
which have white roots and green leaves. Discard the rest. For easier
planting, trim the roots to two inches long. Cut the leaves back to about
six inches in length with the center leaf of the fan being the longest.
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In warmer climates, plant the iris with the top of the rhizome just below ground level. In colder climates, plant the iris about
one-half to one inch deep. Water well after planting; then water again in
a couple of days. After that, normal rainfall should be adequate.
Fertilize your irises twice a year using a formula that
is high in phosphorus (that is the middle number). Do not feed lawn
fertilizer to irises or allow lawn fertilizer to travel into the iris
beds. Lawn fertilizer is high in nitrogen (that is the first number) which
causes lush growth and little to no flowering.
Ideally, feed your irises about six weeks before bloom time and about six
weeks before winter.
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Sounds like the pH level of your soil is not compatible
to the plants’ needs. Have your soil tested so you’ll know exactly
what pH and other elements you have. Irises prefer a neutral pH (7.0). If
your pH is high, your soil is alkaline and can be amended by adding
sulfur. If your pH is low, your soil is acid and can be amended by adding
As you dig each of your favorite irises, use a Sharpie
marker to write the iris name or color on the center back of the leaves.
Trim the roots and the leaves as described above. Place the irises in a
cardboard box or paper sack (not a plastic bag). Keep them cool and DRY
(not refrigerated). Replant them as soon as possible - within two to three
weeks maximum. If you are moving during very cold or very hot weather, you
may need to pot the irises and keep them in a shaded location until the
ground temperature modifies.
To have irises bloom for more weeks, raise
bearded irises of different heights and types. Typically, the Dwarf
irises start the bloom season. They are followed by the
Intermediates and the early Talls. Then the Border Beardeds and
other Talls complete the season.
Irises are hardy, easy-to-grow perennials
with few problems. In the Spring you may see some fungal leaf spot
(during rainy, moist conditions) which can be treated with a
fungicide. Bacterial soft rot has a rotten potato smell and can
quickly kill the iris. Rot is caused by excessive water when the
soil is warm or hot. Removing the dead tissue and applying a
chlorine cleanser like Comet may save the plant. Common pests like
aphids can usually be controlled by lady bugs, applying a solution of
soapy water, or using a pesticide.
No, that is not true. Hybrid irises
do not change from their original color to any other color. If the iris bed is not
properly cared for, the dominant white irises may grow over and choke out
A rebloomer or remontant is an iris with
the genetics to bloom in both the Spring and the Fall. Rebloom or
Fall bloom is not guaranteed. It depends on the climate, the
weather, and the horticultural skills of the gardener.
is very difficult to identify unknown irises. There are numerous similar
or identical irises among the 80,000 plus named cultivars registered with
the American Iris Society. There is also the possibility that an unknown
iris was never registered. Try to develop a list of names of potential
matches and then see how many of those can be acquired to grow side by
side with the unknown iris. Make detailed comparisons over the next few
years as they grow and mature into clumps under exactly the same growing
conditions in the same garden.
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