Irises are a popular and easy to grow perennial that come in a variety of brilliant colors and combinations. The larger types of irises are used at the back of the flower bed or are ideal for cutting. Irises are a hardy plant seldom affected by insects or disease. Irises can be grown from seeds or from tuberous roots called rhizomes. Follow these easy steps for cultivating the Iris from rhizomes:
Where to Plant
Irises prefer a location with full sun and partial shade with at least 6 hours of sunlight for lush blooms. In warmer climates irises do best in partially shaded locations. Choose an area with well-drained soil to prevent root rot.
How to Plant
The soil preference for Irises is one low in pH, slightly less than 7 and a low nitrogen fertilizer. Compost, peat or sand should be mixed in to avoid root rot. Divide the rhizomes into sections and dig shallow holes. Irises require good air circulation so give them room to breathe by planting them 16 – 18 inches apart, depending on the variety. The roots of the rhizomes should be fully covered and should not be more than 2 inches below the surface of the soil. Tamp the soil down firmly.
Maintenance and Care
After the irises have flowered cut down the stalks at ground level, leaving the green stems intact. Any dead leaves or foliage should be removed. To prevent overcrowding and root rot, irises should be divided and replanted every three years. The best time to propagate is in the later summer months, after the iris has bloomed. To keep weeds at bay, place mulch around the iris plants. Irises need only be watered during the driest times of the season. Fertilizer should be applied twice a year.