Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > August 2016 > BONNIE'S GARDEN--How To Plant a Rainbow

BONNIE'S GARDEN--How To Plant a Rainbow


In Greek mythology, Iris was a messenger from the gods who travelled to earth on a rainbow.  Wherever she stepped, beautiful flowers sprang up.  Iris means ‘rainbow’—appropriate when bearded iris come in a vast array of colors from pure white to purple/black—and nearly every color in between.. As early as 1469 B.C., irises were being cultivated by the Egyptians.  The three upright petals stood for faith, wisdom, and valor. 

Irises are perennials and grow from either rhizomes or bulbs.  Nearly all irises are native to the Northern Hemisphere from Europe to Asia.
 
Bearded iris flowers consist of three upright petals called ‘standards’ and three drooping sepals called “falls.”  Bearded iris are called that because of the fuzzy ‘beard’ that runs down each sepal.  The beards are often bright gold or melon orange—offering a vivid contract to the color of the flower itself.

Bearded irises are sturdy easy-to-grow plants needing only a sunny spot and well-drained soil.  The rhizomes are available in late-summer/early fall.  Bearded irises have bigger showier flowers than other iris.  Depending on the variety, they will bloom anytime from mid-May to mid-late June and some varieties will bloom again at summer’s end.
 
To plant bearded irises, choose a sunny spot with well-drained soil.  The rhizomes come with roots and a fan of leaves at the top.  Plant the stem with the root side down, but the top of the stem exposed to light and air.  Top-dress lightly with Bulb-tone.  Feed again in the spring, when they start to come up. 

Regular irises don’t need much attention after they bloom except for a little water occasionally in periods of extreme drought. Keep all iris beds weeded and if you mulch, do not mulch over the top of the rhizomes.  Be sure to keep dead leaves or debris out of the iris bed as they can encourage rot. Irises are not plants that like in-ground sprinklers.
 
There are bearded irises that will bloom in the spring and, if conditions are to their liking, again in late summer/early fall.  If you have reblooming iris, then feed them after they bloom the first time and keep them watered over the summer—remembering to let them dry out partly.  I plant my reblooming iris separately from my regular iris because once regular irises have bloomed, they can go drier and do not need to be fed again, like the rebloomers do.
 
Dutch irises are smaller than bearded irises so take up less space and are good for adding color where space is more limited. Miniature iris bulbs are also available in the fall—they’re far earlier (often blooming the same time or just after crocus do) and daintier—about six to eight inches tall.  Both Dutch and miniature irises come in around the first week of September and can be planted mid-October.  Like Bearded irises, they prefer full sun and well-draining soil.  The bulbs go in about 4 inches deep.
 
Not only are all iris tough, durable and perennial bloomers, but they are not generally bothered by pests—very important here in “Deer Country.”  Bearded iris rhizomes have just arrived at the store, so come in and pick out a rainbow…
 
Posted: 8/29/2016 by Bonnie Pega | with 0 comment(s)
Filed under: bearded, Bonnies, Garden, iris
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