Sat June 22, 2013
Garden Report

Want To Share Your Garden? Plant Irises

Iris will grow just about anywhere in Colorado, but if you want more blooms watering is advised.
Credit KarinConway / Wikimedia Commons

Need some garden currency? Irises are exceptionally durable and can be traded with other gardeners.

Tom Throgmorton shares tips on a durable plant that grows wild in Colorado.

There are few plants as durable as Bearded Iris. These are the flowers blooming by abandon homesteads. These are the plants in the far reaches of the garden forgotten until they bloom. The Bearded Iris is tough, easy to grow, drought tolerant and colorful.

Bearded Iris come in all colors. Root-beer color flowers have a root-beer scent. Variegated leaf varieties have lavender flowers and smell like grape soda. Flowers bloom in hues from blue to purple to bright lemon yellow to rusty red. Masses of Iris bloom from May through June.

Bearded Iris are tough, easy to grow, drought tolerant and colorful.

The Iris doesn’t need special treatment. They grow in about any soil and can take full sun to partial shade. Once established they grow on natural moisture, blooming better with a little added water. The Iris thrives from the plains to elevations above eight thousand feet.

Dividing Iris

About every third or fourth year Iris need to be divided. The weak tubers need to be tossed and the strong tubers need separated. The best time to divide Iris is after they bloom. But mark them while they’re blooming so you remember the color of each bunch. Dividing is a July gardening project.

Lift the Iris clump with a digging fork. Don’t use a shovel because it’s too easy to cut them. Break the young vigorous tubers from the old wrinkled ones. Toss the old and replant the new. You usually end up with more Iris to replant than there’s room in the garden.

Replant the young Iris tubers not more than an inch below grade. If they’re planted too deep they won’t bloom well. Some folks say the top of the tuber should show above the ground. But I like to plant them just a bit deeper.

Plant the tubers four to six inches apart. Group colors together for the best flower show. Add a little super phosphate or bone meal to help the roots and flowers grow.

Cut the leaves in half. This helps the roots support the top. If there’s too much leafy top the plant can dry out. Trade and share Iris. Friends may have colors you don’t have. Iris can be a way to meet the new gardener on the block.


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