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  • Writer's pictureDigger and Gina McLean

Irresistible Iris! A Flower Anyone Can Grow.

White Iris Brighten Any Spot!

Iris is a long time favorite garden perennial. Our mothers and grandmothers loved them, for good reason. It's hardy, easy to grow and provides beautiful spring blooms just when the growing season is getting started. They come in all kinds of varieties and colors, and their beautiful sword shaped leaves add interest to any landscape bed. What's not to love, right?

It's sad, but I fell out of love with irises many years ago. I got some from my mother-in-law, an iris lover from way back, and planted them in my yard. I enjoyed them for several years, but then I got sick of dividing them and I ripped them all out. Every single one. It has taken me many years and lots of begging from my husband to try them again. When my mother-in-law passed away, these white beauties came from her yard and I have fallen in love with irises all over again. I want to get more. Truly they are an irresistible flower.

Irises are super easy to grow, so you don't need a green thumb. Even a brown thumb will do! Irises thrive on neglect and can make the most inexperienced gardener feel like an old pro. Their needs are very simple. They need at least 1/2 a day of sunshine and well drained soil and that's pretty much it. They are deer resistant and drought tolerant. Irises grow on a rhizome, which is like a long bulb. The rhizome doesn't like to be completely buried, so plant them in a shallow hole, to prevent root rot. Irises are tall, and make a great statement at the back of the border. Plant in groups and mix colors at will for a showy spectacle of epic proportions. You can plant them in places with hard and not very good soil and they will thrive. They bloom with little care, so if you forget to fertilize, no worries. They make great cut flowers to enjoy indoors, too. When they finish blooming, you can cut off the bloom stalks and let the leaves grow to enhance next year's blooms. They do need to be divided every 2-5 years. When they start looking puny and fail to bloom, it's probably time to divide them. The best time to divide them is shortly after they bloom, but probably anytime is okay. Dig out the clumps of rhizomes and inspect them for any borer holes. If they have borer holes or if the rhizomes are shriveled or not in good shape, discard them. Choose the rhizomes in good condition and cut or break them apart. Trim the leaves into a short 3 to 4 inch fan shape (I love this part!), and choose some to replant. Replant in shallow holes about 4" deep. The ones you don't use can be given away to friends, who will probably love to have some new varieties.

You can buy irises at your local garden center or order them online if you want some different varieties. I am always looking at garden centers for colors I don't have. Sometimes, just the name of the iris is on the plant tag and I look up the variety on my phone to see if I like/need it or not. The most common type of irises are bearded irises and they come lots of colors and frill patterns. Lots. Thousands probably. Some varieties will rebloom in the fall, but I have never had any of those. I look forward to April and May when the irises begin to bloom. It is a sight to behold!

Maybe it's time to give irises a try. They will bring spring joy and beautiful blooms to any garden space. Dig It? It's Grow Time!

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