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Iris Basics

 

Irises are easy to care for and make beautiful cuttings

The iris falls in the easy-grow category and in its infinite varieties can thrive in many locations. They grow at different times of year and have different requirements. A range in size even allows gardeners to place several species in a dazzling "row" effect.

Irises are grouped in two ways: Bearded (also known as German iris) and Beardless (includes the Japanese, Siberian, and Louisiana iris). Drooping petals are actually called "sepals" (falls) and on bearded irises, there will be a fuzzy strip on each fall. Upright petals are called standards. Within each group, there will be early, mid-season, and late bloomers.

They do require well-draining soil, although some species can withstand near-aquatic conditions. In general, plant in mid-to-late summer. They prefer at least 4-6 hours of sun. Most are not particular about soil conditions. Even clay, with a good amount of sand and humus added, will work. They are only a little bit fussy about overwatering.

Irises should be planted about twelve inches apart. Place each rhizome in the same direction. When the plants become crowded, the rhizomes are easy to separate. Just leave some roots and leaves in each section and replant. Roots should always face downward.

While essentially hardy, irises do attract the "iris borer," which winters as eggs on the leaves. They work downward through the plant, eventually attacking the rhizome. Controls include keeping the area free of debris.

Japanese and Siberian beardless irises are the water-lovers. Louisiana irises are shade-tolerant.

 

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