Grow Irises

Perennial irises are beautiful flowers that come in a wide range of colors and varieties.

Irises blooming are always a welcome sight to behold. Their colors are uniquely vibrant, and their beauty is matchless. According to the website article "Growing Irises", written by Leslie Dybiec and published by The Ohio State University, one of the first perennials to produce blooms during the growing season is the iris. It says irises are easy to grow, and they bloom anywhere from the latter part of spring to early in the summer. The book entitled "Burpee: Complete Gardener" says these early blooming beauties come in various shades of yellow, blue, pink, violet, orange, purple, dark red, white, and bronze. Irises are also available in a wide array of lovely bicolors.

There are many species of irises to consider growing, and "Burpee: Complete Gardener" provides the following information on several of them. First is the bearded iris which is one of the most popular types. They get their name from a contrasting beard-like growth on their bottom petals. These lower petals are actually sepals which are known as 'falls'. The actual petals usually stand upwards and are known as 'standards'. This fragrant species is usually bicolored and blooms between May and June. They typically reach a height between eight inches and three feet, depending on the variety. Some types of bearded irises bloom again at the end of summer or the beginning of autumn.

The Japanese iris boasts beautiful large flowers in various shades of purple, white, and blue, and they are often adorned with lovely contrasting veins. These showy irises typically reach a height between two and three feet. The brilliantly colored blooms are liken to a soaring bird when touched by a gentle breeze. They are truly exquisite, but like many other iris varieties, this beauty is short-lived. This iris blooms between June and July for about two weeks.

Siberian irises have beautiful narrow blooms that come in varying shades of pink, blue, purple, and white. This iris has long, narrow foliage and is quite hardy. They bloom in late spring or early summer for approximately two weeks.

The dwarf crested variety is considered a wild flower. This enchanting iris reaches a mere height of about eight inches and boasts violet-blue flowers adorned with yellow and white markings. This species is ideal as a border or as a temporary perennial groundcover.

An iris that thrives in moist conditions is the yellow flag iris. This variety, when incorporated with other plants, is a lovely addition to a water garden. It can also add beauty, tranquillity, and color to the landscape surrounding a pond. The yellow flag iris has brilliant yellow blooms and grows to a height which often exceeds three feet. The foliage of this iris has narrow leaves that are a unique shade of blue green.

Different varieties of irises have individual location, planting, and care requirements. This should be taken into consideration when choosing a location for planting. "Growing Irises" says the soil should be prepared by tilling it to a depth between twelve and eighteen inches, and compost should be mixed in. "Burpee: Complete Gardener" says that compost will improve any type of soil by enriching it with beneficial nutrients.

"Growing Irises" provides the following information on planting irises. Unless the variety chosen thrives in moist areas, a location that drains well should be chosen so the roots do not rot. Perennial irises grow from a root which is known as a rhizome. When planting a rhizome, begin by digging a hole that is approximately six inches deep. Soil should be mounded in the bottom of the hole so when the root is planted it will be just below the surface of the ground. After planting and tamping down the soil, the rhizome should be thoroughly watered. Be sure that any additional irises planted are at least twelve inches apart.

One of the most common problems with irises is spotting of the leaves. "Iris" describes this disease and gives the following recommendations on treating affected irises. It says this unsightly spotting is caused by a fungus. The problem can be identified by brownish-purple spots which are surrounded by a halo of yellow. Although irises do not die from this disease, it greatly effects the appearance of the plant. In addition, the rhizomes can be weakened by the loss of nutrients from the dying foliage. Since this fungus is easily spread, all damaged foliage should be removed.

Another problem common to irises is the infestation of the iris borer. "Burpee: Complete Gardener" provides the following information on identifying and getting rid of this pest. It says every two to three years rhizomes of the bearded iris should be dug up and divided. Other varieties of irises should be divided during the spring or fall months every three to four years. At this time the rhizomes need to be carefully inspected for signs of iris borers. These pests bore holes in the roots which eventually cause them to rot. If damage is found, the affected rhizomes should be discarded. The healthy foliage of the remaining plants will need to be trimmed at the midsection, and healthy rhizomes can be replanted.

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