Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Iris Bulbs

Iris pseudacorus
Zones: 3 to 10

This is a Bearded Iris, in the color Blue (which is sometimes more like purple) and many variations between. They are extremely easy to grow and divide, and come in many rainbow colors (every color except red). They get their name from a fuzzy looking petal that hangs down like a beard. They are generally large and tall, but there is a dwarf variety that is really small, up to 9 inches. The tall Iris can grow from 1 to 4 feet tall! Some Iris bloom in Spring and some in Fall. The rhizomes (kind of like a bulb, where the leaves grow up from) need to be planted close to the surface (under the ground about 1-2 inches), almost as if they are riding on top. If you plant them too deep they have trouble flowering. Every 3 or 4 years you must dig up the entire plant and cut away the center, called dividing. You will see that the leaves and rhizomes have grown away from the center of the plant, making it easy to cut out the center and leave the rest to re-plant. The rhizomes look like long feet with their tall leaves attached. Iris are heavy feeders, which means they like fertilizer. You can ask about fertilizer mixes at the local nursery or buy fertilizer pellets to bury in the ground. You must fertilize Iris at least twice a year, usually after they bloom and in the Fall. Iris like to be in full sun, and usually bloom in mid-Spring to mid-Summer.