What to do this month in the Iris garden
Although the Bearded Iris bloom but a few short weeks each year, there are small tasks you can do year-round in your garden to ensure that the glorious bloom season will be the very best it can be. See below for month by month recommendations for Iris garden care.
January Iris Cultural Tip
Spring is inevitable no matter how high the snow banks or how low the mercury. When all threat of frost has passed, remove the winter protection. If the ground is clear of snow and ice, you may see weeds and grass begin to emerge. Get them while they're young and soft. Your New Year's exercise routine has just begun.....squat, pull, squat, pull! If the garden is still covered in snow and ice, leave winter protection in place.
February Iris Cultural Tip
Continue to monitor for signs of spring, especially weeds and grass blades. Get them while they are still small, with short roots. Once threat of ice has passed, remove winter protection.
March Iris Cultural Tip
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.
April Cultural Tip
The sunshine and warm days come
more often, Jack Frost still teases with overnight chills and morning ice.
Spring is all around. Tulips and Daffodils awakening, buds on trees popping
seemingly before our very eyes…. grass blades, nettle, and dandelions emerging
between our Iris rhizomes, tell –tale shiny tracks left behind by hungry slugs…
Spring means taking fast 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. Use a garden fungicide. Always follow manufacturer's instructions.
~ As soon as you see new foliage sprouting, clear off dead leaves and other forms of winter protection.
~ 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 using excess fertilizer and fresh manure and provide as much drainage as possible. 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 just $8.95
~ For areas with Iris Borers, read our page on this topic under the "Tips on Growing & Maintaining Bearded Iris" pages.
Before bloom season, gather your iris for a pep talk. In no uncertain terms, tell them, “You’re here because of me. I’ve cared for you. Now do your stuff. Bloom, baby bloom!”
May Cultural Tip
Bearded Iris bloom season is here at last, and all your year-round gardening efforts have paid off! Enjoy the glorious colors this month. Here are a few cultural tips recommended to keep your Iris beds in top form throughout the bloom season.
- Pull weeds out of Iris beds. Get them while they’re small!
- Bait for slugs using the pet and nature friendly method or product of your choice
- Remove any diseased or brown leaves, but leave the healthy green foliage undisturbed
- Dead-head spent blooms throughout bloom season
- Stake taller stems to prevent them from tipping over in the wind and rain
Remember to take plenty of photos of your glorious blooms, and visit Schreiner’s Iris Gardens during the month of May to view our display garden at its peak!
June Cultural Tip
The last of the Bearded Iris are lingering in the garden. Beardless Iris are showing their silky heads. We recommend a few tasks here to keep your Iris beds looking their best:
- Cut off spent bloom stalks at the
base of parent rhizome
- Remove any leaves that wither or brown, leave the healthy green leaves throughout the summer
- Apply a light application of
fertilizer and water in. Bone meal, superphosphate and 6-10-10 are all effective. Use fertilizer LOW in Nitrogen. Too much nitrogen encourages rot problems.
- Keep Iris beds free of weeds.
- Take time to sit back and enjoy your Iris garden before the blooms retreat!
- Cut off spent bloom stalks at the
July Cultural Tip
July is the time to reflect on your garden and add, remove or change things around. Here is what we recommend for Bearded Iris care:
- Divide crowded Iris beds and replant (every 3-4 years)
- Rebloomers: divide and transplant every year or two for better results
- When transplanting, apply bone meal and/or superphosphate to help give the plants a healthy start in their new location
- Prepare soil for new beds
- Plant new rhizomes
- When planting new Iris new shoots from divided clumps, label your Iris with weather-proof plant markers. Perhaps create a map of your garden beds to help identify your Iris year to year.
- Keep Iris beds free of weeds.
August Cultural Tip
The dog days of August are wagging the tail-end-of-summer. The garden is simmering with the last blooms of the season. If you can get out to the garden, despite the heat, here are a few tasks recommended for tending to your Iris.
- In very dry areas, water newly planted Iris once very well at planting time, then again every couple weeks. A gentle tug on the top of the foliage is a good test to see if the new roots have set in.
- Established Iris beds need very little to no water during the summer. The exception would be "reblooming" Iris, which require more water to encourage rebloom.
- Divide crowded Iris beds and replant (every three to five years)
- Plant new Bearded Iris. Mark the plants with weather-proof labels so that you know what's blooming where come spring time. Consider making a map of your garden.
- Now is a good time to introduce or add Beardless Iris to your garden. Plant Siberian and Louisiana Iris.
- Keep Iris beds free of weeds and grass.
September-October Cultural Tip
To avoid over wintering insects and diseases that can cause rot, and to reduce the occurrence of leaf spots and borers, remove and destroy any garden debris, spent Iris bloom stalks, and brown dry foliage each fall.
Cut back remaining foliage to about 6” above the rhizome (this is not required, and is really up to the individual gardener). Trimming the foliage, however, does have its benefits: the garden appears tidier, and the surface area on which leaf spot (a fungus) can develop is reduced.
November-December Cultural Tip
In the Northern Hemisphere the Iris are dormant now. You might even see new increases. Clean off the old, mushy leaves to prevent the growth and spread of various fungal diseases. The dead leaves are also perfect hideouts for insects.
Evergreen boughs or straw make a good winter protection for Iris, particularly in areas with especially harsh winters. Apply after freeze-up. Heaving of the soil, caused by freeze-thaw patterns, can result in the dislodging of the rhizome. Avoid mulches that will trap moisture around the rhizome, as this environment can induce rot. Remove winter protection promptly in the early spring when new foliage begins sprouting.
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