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Hort in the Home Landscape

A blog devoted to sharing timely horticulture topics and answering the questions of gardeners and homeowners.
2014-05-30 08 21 50

POTW: Bearded Iris

Plant of the Week

The irises are blooming beautifully in my garden and it seems in everyone else's gardens right now! The Bearded Iris (Iris x hybrida) is looking particularly great.

According to the American Iris Society, iris can be classified into three separate groups: Bearded Irises, Aril Irises and Beardless Irises. Bearded Iris in particular is identified by thick, bushy "beards" on each of the falls (lower petals) of the blossoms. Within bearded iris, there are lots of different types, from the tall bearded to the miniature bearded irises. Even if you just planted bearded irises in your garden you would still have a great variety in the garden.

The American Iris Society also notes that for best results, plant iris rhizomes in July, August or September. This is also the best time (plants are normally dormant during the heat of July and August) to divide and replant iris that have become overcrowded, usually after three to five years.

In terms of lighting, iris need at least a half-day (6-8 hours) of direct sunlight. Some afternoon shade is beneficial in extremely hot climates, but in general irises do best in full sun. Iris will grow in deep shade, but probably not flower.

Good drainage is also particularly important to prevent rotting of the rhizome, as well as planting depth. Planting too deeply is a common mistake when planting iris rhizomes. They should be planted at or just barely below the surface of the ground. The tops of the rhizomes should be visible and the roots spread out facing downwards in the soil.

To be honest, irises are not my favorite plant in the garden, probably because the garden in the house I recently moved in to consisted of pretty much only iris and then combine that with the fact that their bloom time is relatively short. But I will say, they're growing on me. Now that I've planted other perennials in combination with the iris, they are much more appealing and add some interest in times where the iris are not blooming.

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