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Iris, a superb perennial flower


Iris is both beautiful and elegant, and luckily it is also easy to grow given the simply stunning blooming it offers.

Summary of key Iris facts

Name: Iris
Family: Iridaceae
Type: bulbous flower or perennial

Height: 8 to 36 inches (20 to 90 cm)
Exposure: full sun, part sun

Soil: ordinary  –  Flowering: January to July depending on the variety

Here is the care and small acts of care that will sustain the beautiful blooming of your iris from year to year.

Planting iris

The best period for planting iris is spring or summer, usually from May to November for the plants to bloom in the following summer.

  • How to plant irisPlant the iris rhizomes in soil that has been well broken up, without burying them too deep.
  • Keep a minimum spacing of 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) between each iris plant.
  • Let the iris rhizomes stick out here and there for the sun to shine on them directly.
  • This will keep them from rotting, which they would do if buried too deep.
  • For a nice decorative impact, sow about 15 plants to a square yard (1 m²).

Iris is especially vulnerable to lack of sun that would keep it from blooming correctly, and its second nemesis is waterlogged soil.

Sowing iris

Sowing irisIf sowing from seed, better sow your iris in pots in September-October.

  • You can leave them outdoors, under some type of shelter, all winter long.
  • Blooming will only occur 2 to 3 years after the sowing.
  • You’ll proceed to transplant them directly in the ground as soon as the first leaves have sprouted.

Propagating iris

How to propagate irisIris is a plant that very easily propagates through division.

As years go by, rhizomes tend to crowd tighter and tighter, the soil loses its nutrients and the iris blooms are weaker and weaker.

That is the right time to divide your iris so that the rhizomes get to breathe a bit and their vigor is renewed.

The technique to propagate iris is actually rhizome division after the blooming every 3 to 4 years.

  • This division is performed in summer, when the blooming is less abundant or has even petered out.
  • Division may also be performed in fall.
  • Dividing iris rootsWith a spading fork, carefully unearth a portion of the rhizomes, lifting them out of the ground.
  • With knife at this point, separate the rhizomes and keep larger pieces, each about 4 inches (10 cm) long.
  • Replant these rhizome shards in another spot of the garden, or offer some to your friends.
  • During the planting, cover with a good layer of soil and add time-release fertilizer, also adding some to the original rhizome location.

This step gives the plant a new life, and it will joyfully get to work making new flowers for you for free!

Trimming and caring for Iris

Caring for iris can really become only the occasional check, because this is a flower that requires very little work.

Iris careApart from dividing the rhizomes as described above, here are the practices that will help extend the blooming or simply increase the quality of the iris flowers.

  • Remove wilted flowers as they die off, but keep the leaves until the very end of their yellowing, usually until September.
    Iris leaves must be kept connected to the roots for the plant to build up its stocks for the following blooming.
  • Remove weeds that grow amidst the plant leaves to free the rhizomes.
  • No need to water because the plant doesn’t need it.

Watering and adding fertilizer for iris

Iris resists dry spells particularly well and will only need to be watered in case of very high temperatures and/or extended dry spell.

However, potted iris will need much more regular watering, usually when the substrate has dried up deep down.

  • Provide granulated time-release flower plant fertilizer in spring.

Diseases and parasites attacking iris

Iris diseaseIris is quite invulnerable to disease but it may fall victim to snails and slugs.

All there is to know about iris

Iris is a hardy plant that survives winter without batting an eye. Cold actually conditions part of the plant’s growth.

Three magnificent petals form the flower, and their colors are most varied.

Often in tones of purple, they can also be blue, yellow, red or white.

The lifespan of an iris can reach anywhere from 5 to 20 years and its hardiness and resistance to the cold can reach down to 5°F (-15°C).

Iris varietiesOver 200 species of iris have been accounted for, and each has a unique color and shape combination. Some love basking in water, like yellow iris. Others are all the rage, like the many ravishing bearded iris varieties. A few pictured here are actually dwarf iris, excellent for growing in pots. Particularly elegant is the slender-stemmed Dutch iris.

Note that certain iris species are used to produce perfume, with oils extracted from the rhizome.

Smart tip about iris

To ensure it lasts a generation, offer it bulb-plant organic fertilizer every year after the blooming.

Images: 123RF: Ilnaz Bagautdinov, Olga Kozhina; Pixabay: Ilona, Olga K., Mabel Amber, Mari Loli, Pexels, Ralph
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