Gardening

Bearded iris for color in your garden

Irises are one of my favorite flowering plants for a number of reasons but mainly it’s because they are so easy to grow compared to some other plants. I’m not the only that knows this, which is probably why you see so many irises in gardens.

Bearded Iris

Although there are several types of irises, the one that everyone thinks of when you say “iris” is the bearded iris sometimes called German iris.

Irises are perennials, which means plant them once and they’ll come back again year after year. They are very resilient plants and are quite cold tolerant. Ours were un-mulched through two extremely cold winters and never missed a step.

Irises put on quite a show in return for so little effort on our part.

Irises put on quite a show in return for so little effort on our part.

Bearded irises require well-drained, sunny locations to thrive. Soggy soil, especially during the summer, will cause their roots to rot.  On the other hand, they need plenty of water during the early spring, shortly after they wake up from their winter dormancy. Around here, we usually get enough rain in the spring for them to be satisfied.

High winds or storms can knock over iris stalks. Tying them to stakes helps keep them upright.

High winds or storms can knock over iris stalks. Tying them to stakes helps keep them upright.

The most common mistake beginners make when planting iris is to place them too deep into the ground. Only the bottom two-thirds of the root rhizome gets covered with soil. The other one-third remains above ground.

German irises grow so prolifically that they will over-crowd themselves over time. So, every three or four years they need to be dug up, divided and replanted during the summer. It’s a relatively easy thing to do and you don’t have to worry much about hurting the plant. I’ll discuss this in a post later on this summer as we approach thinning time.

Bob Dluzen

As a result of being a gardener for more than 40 years, 30 of those as a professional, Bob’s gardening has become an integral part of his life. “It’s the ever-changing seasons and the wide variety of plants and gardens that keeps me intrigued,” he says. Bob lives and gardens in rural Monroe County.