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All About Irises

Iris Although there are many varieties of iris, the bearded iris is the most popular and the easiest to grow for the beginning gardener. It comes in a palette of colors, including black, and since it is a perennial, will continue to produce beautiful flowers year after year.

Growing Irises

The iris is grown from a rhizome, which is a thick stem of the plant (think of the ginger you buy in the grocery store). When you purchase the rhizome, it should have roots emanating out from it. In the fall, dig a deep hole in a sunny location, loosen the soil and return half of it to the hole. Set the rhizome on top of the dirt, and spread the roots. Cover the plant with enough soil so that it will lie just below the surface. Water deeply. Additional irises should be spaced about 12-15 inches apart. If you live in an area where the winters are harsh, you might want to cover them with straw or other mulch until the spring.

When the flowers have faded, remove them and cut back their stalks. However, the leaves should not be cut back until they turn brown. This allows time for the plant to nourish itself for the next year. In order for the iris to continue to bloom successfully, it is necessary to split the rhizomes every 3-5 years. Dig them up and rinse thoroughly. Split them with a knife so that each section has a good supply of roots and leaves.