“You DO know how to plant iris, don’t you?” the gardening doyenne inquired when I offered to help her during a community work day in a Memorial Garden.
“Ummm, I think so.”
Well, it turns out I really didn’t know how to plant iris at all. And that explained why mine were healthy specimens but rarely bloomed. You see there is a trick to it. It’s called trenching:
Planting too deeply is the mistake most novice iris growers make. In fact, the rhizomes really want to sit right on top of the soil – something which makes most gardeners a bit nervous. The trick is to make sure the roots are buried but not the rhizomes themselves.
You achieve this by digging a little trench, placing the rhizome on top of it and then dangling the roots along the sides of the trench.
Sprinkle a little slow-release fertilizer over the roots, cover with soil, and water in well. And that should do it. This is how your mature iris should look at ground level with the rhizomes sitting right on top of the soil:
Last year I could not pay anybody to take my overgrown iris off my hands. So I heartlessly threw them into the woods. And this is happening right now:
Yes, abundant iris are now growing along the edge of my woods. The roots probably landed in lots of good leaf mulch and the rest is history. Talk about a low-maintenance, sturdy plant. Moral of this story: Don’t Plant Too Deeply!!
Here are a few of my better specimens:
Have you ever seen an iris this color? This one is a pass-along from an elderly gardener I met years ago. I would love to know its name and until then, we’ll call it Iris “Murdoch.”
This is Iris “Hemstitch.”
Two years ago we went to Roanoke, VA for Historic Garden Week. We were walking the boys along a country road when I spied iris growing in an abandoned cemetery. They had already bloomed so I had no idea what color they were. Beloved Husband dug a few rhizomes out of the rock-hard soil and I planted them as soon as we got home. Last spring they multiplied at a furious rate but didn’t bloom. This year…..yippee!!! I call them my Cemetery Iris. Or maybe they should be “Patience Rewarded.”
Bought these at a Mennonite farm stand way out in the country. No variety name given:
This is Iris “Slovak Prince”
And this little beauty is Iris “Ringo.”
Another unknown variety:
We can’t talk about iris without at least a mention of a real favorite, the Siberian Iris. This one is called “Caesar’s Brother” for its noble purple color:
A final word from my beloved Mr. Beverley Nichols on iris:
However solitary you may be by nature, however averse to entertaining and giving parties, don’t you find that there are times when the sweet peas, as it were, send out their own invitation to tea, or when the irises inform you, in no uncertain voice, that they will be “at home” next Sunday afternoon?