One of my favorite spring blooming plants is the Bearded Iris. It is easy to grow and produces lots of beautiful flowers to enjoy. The iris has a thick fleshy root called a "rhizome". When you purchase an iris, it will be planted in a container and growing or you can purchase it in a plastic bag where you have just the rhizome. The rhizome will be clipped of roots, leaves and has been cleaned. If you purchase it in a bag, feel the rhizome to make sure that it is not soft or dried out. Once you have your iris rhizome, plant it in well drained soil and in a sunny spot in your garden. If you prepare your garden bed for planting iris, make sure that the soil has been turned to a depth of 10 inches and prepare the bed several weeks ahead of planting. When you plant your rhizome, plant it close to the soil surface and if you are planting multiple rhizomes allow at least a foot in between each one. Bone meal and a fertilizer that is low in nitrogen works great for iris.
When your iris blooms, you will have flowers that are 6 to 8 inches in size and that are wonderful for cutting and enjoying inside the home. The flowers come in many colors from orange, purple, yellow, blue, black, white, red and all kinds of mixed colors. They bloom in late spring to early summer in zones 3-9 with the average height of 12 to 14 inches.
In about 2 to 3 years you may need to divide your rhizomes which should be done about 1 to 2 months after blooming. When you divide your iris, remove dead areas and replant the fresh hard rhizomes. Always look for insect damage to the rhizome and treat if necessary.
If you grow beardless iris, Siberian or Japanese iris, they will have slightly different cultural needs than the bearded iris. What the difference? Check back on future post and you can find out more on growing iris in the garden.