Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My Mom's Garden...
It's almost magical when bearded irises (also known as Flags) unfurl their pencil-slim buds to reveal a kaleidoscope of color in spring. They come in every imaginable color including solids and mixed colors. The Iris is ...a perennial that comes back year after year and multiplies. They make a beautiful and fragrant cut flower. When I look at the intricate and beautiful details, and the gracefulness of the Iris, I always think, "how could there not be a God."

Anyone can grow the Iris. The photo is of the Tall Bearded Iris called "Circus Circus." Here are a few tips.

Plant them in a sunny spot in late summer. I usually plant mine in late August or early September. The plants need well-drained soil and at least six hours of sunlight per day. A full day of sun is even better to keep the rhizomes dry. (The rhizomes are the fleshy root-like structures at the base of the plant.)

Give them room to breathe. Bearded iris require good air circulation. Plant them a minimum of 16 to 18 inches apart.

Do not mulch. Mulching retains moisture, and too much moisture will cause soft rot of the rhizomes.

Break off seedpods that form after the blooms have faded. This prevents seedlings from choking the surrounding soil. Seed formation also saps energy needed by the rhizomes, roots, and leaves.

Prune back the foliage in the fall. This will reduce the chances of over wintering pests and diseases.

Make dividing a habit. Divide clumps of bearded iris every three to four years in the late summer. Simply dig them up, cut the root ball in half or quarters and replant.

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