Springtime Iris Garden Care

Dwarf Iris often emerge in late March, depending on the weather. We recommend you bait for slugs, and continue all through the spring and summer. Use a type of bait that is wildlife and pet friendly! Pull or spray weeds. Get them while they’re small and the ground is soft! Control grass and trim away from Iris beds. (“Grass Be Gone”, available in most garden centers, is safe and effective around Iris. Follow manufacturer's instructions closely.) Remove any winter protection when new Iris growth begins to emerge. Watch for signs of Iris borers if they are a problem in your area. Visit our "How to Grow & Care for Bearded Iris" pages for more details on controlling pests in the Iris garden.

When getting ready for fertilizing, here is a good rule of thumb: Apply Iris fertilizer when the tulips are blooming in your neighborhood. Bone meal, superphosphate, or a general fertilizer with a 6-10-10 balance are all effective. Be sure to read manufacturer's recommendations for your soil type. Avoid using any fertilizer high in Nitrogen, such as fresh manure, because too much Nitrogen encourages rapid foliage production instead of blooms, and can lead to rot. If fertilizers are applied, avoid placing them directly on the Iris rhizomes as this can burn and injure them. Apply as a top dressing around the plant and work into the soil.

Spring means taking action against our least desirable garden inhabitants
– weeds and pests. Here we recommend a few tasks to help prepare for a successful Iris bloom season:

  • Spray for fungus, such as leaf spot. Trim affected foliage and discard in the trash, not the yard debris. Use a garden fungicide. Always follow manufacturer's instructions.
  • As soon as you see new Iris foliage sprouting, clear off dead leaves and other forms of winter protection.
  • Ensure that garden soil drains well. 
  • With bacterial and crown rots, remove and destroy any infected plant parts to avoid the spread of these diseases to healthy plants nearby 
  • When Tulips bloom in your area, it is time to fertilize your Tall Bearded Iris. Avoid  the use of fresh manure. We recommend a fertilizer low in Nitrogen, such as a 6-10-10 mix. Too much Nitrogen can increase foliage growth, decrease bloom development, and lead to rhizome rot. We carry a 1 lb. bag of specially formulated Iris food.
  • For areas with Iris Borers, read our page on this topic under the "Tips on Growing & Maintaining Bearded Iris" pages.