It is Memorial day in USA and the one thing I came to relate with that day are our garden Irises. Did you know they always bloom on that day at the latest?
Iris is one of those great plants that you simply can not kill and therefore it is excellent for novice gardeners or ones with little time to tend to a garden.
The following info is from our personal experience
growing letting Irises grow in zone 5b. Your experience may be different but, at least, you will see this is a very friendly plant that is a great addition to any garden – and especially friendly to brown-thumbers). Our experience is based on two species of Iris (out of over 260 species).
Please, use your discretion.
Irises are perennials that grow expanding outwards in a circular fashion. Their foliage is simple but their flowers, growing on tall stalks, are very showy.
Care for Iris Plants
They much prefer full sun, where they will bloom profusely between May and July.
They will still flower in shadowy, northern areas but, later and with less blooms.
The next photo collage consists of photographs taken the same day and hour, so you see the difference sun makes:
I never water them. They get watered by whatever rain falls on them and they still survive. Keep in mind they are planted in ground,are not in pots and we are in New England that generally gets a lot of rain.
As for drainage, I read (on the internet) they should have great drainage. I beg to differ. As you can see in the post on planting an Arborvitae, our soil takes forever to drain. We do not have great drainage and it has not affected our Irises one bit.
Anything goes. Seriously. Ours are in three areas with what looks like 100% clay, 100% gravel and plain cheap topsoil. The ones planted in the worst soil (so hard I can’t even dig it) do the best, because they face south and have a lot of sun exposure.
All this time, I have never used any kind of fertilizer on them. You may use but it is not essential.
Prune foliage in the fall
This is the only one thing that we pay attention to: cutting down all the foliage every year.
You can prune Irises twice, either in early spring or late fall. Prune them all the way to the ground. I prefer doing it in mid autumn so the snow and rains don’t pool at the spot. And to prove they just don’t die, I mow over them after the first frost. I don’t bother cutting or pulling the leaves. I simply mow.
Love them and want more? Dig the roots and divide them in late summer, early fall. Cut down the foliage (just snip with scissors) leaving about 4 inches of leaves length, before you plant the new rhizomes. A good rule of thumb is to do it after your plant is done blooming.
Ta-dah, new plants.
A Pretty Surprise
I had a pretty surprise: there are Iris Albicans growing in our garden bed (the one we made with only $24). We have been in this house almost 2 and a half years now and this is the first time I noticed them.
Iris Albicans are white Irises, very beautiful and they would look fantastic between more colorful plants. Granted, their common name is a let down (not to mention off putting) but they are so pretty! The common name is…cemetery Iris. Terrible!
I pass a motion to rename it into Bridal Iris. Are you with me?
ps. If you are looking for plants that do great in shadowy areas, Rhododendrons are your friend and they will bloom profusely even in north, shadowy spots.
ps 2. Hummingbirds love Irises! I was too slow to manage shooting a photo but the little guy was feasting on my southern ones until I got up to get the camera. Naturally…
ps 3. My blog friend Vineta, mentioned something important in the comments: Irises get overcrowded over the years and they should be divided every few years.
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