Iris Maintenance | Volunteer Gardener

Iris Maintenance | Volunteer Gardener

July 18, 2019 1 By Kailee Schamberger



we are out in prim Springs Tennessee this morning at Irish City Gardens with my good friend and neighbor Greg McCullough Andy good to see you good to see you it is late September a beautiful beautiful fall day iris is a incredibly wonderful flowering plant everybody has them but there are different groups and there are different ways to care for them and as I understand it Greg fall is really a critical time to do the right thing the bid we're in right now is a bearded iris bed the bearded iris it's got a little beard on it on the falls this bed is a reblooming bed so we get an early season bloom generally early May and then the majority of the rebloom comes in October November but you can see this one just opened today we have a few that are open so Greg do I understand correctly that after these bloom in the spring and the early summer and the flowers are spent that would be a good time to deadhead or cut off the flowering stalks we do cut the stalks down on all of them as soon as they do that first one we cut the stalk off because that lets the plant put all its energy into building up the next bloom and for rebloom errs that will be fall for the non rebloom burs that will be the next year do you do anything with the foliage in this summer or is that all done in the fall no all the foliage is done in the fall you don't want to cut that back because you want to leave it as long as you can because that built the balloon for next year but once we cut the foliage we clean up all of the dead material around the plant because a there's a moth that will come along and lay eggs in this dead material and the the worms that hatch out drill down through the foliage into the rhizome and will kill the plant and it's a fairly common problem in the south it's called an iris borer so it's fairly common you know everywhere in the south so that's just good maintenance it keeps the pests and the disease as much as possible out of your out of your foliage so we don't cut that foliage back until generally late fall or maybe after even after the first frost I'm just always used to mulching my flowerbeds and trees and shrubs but it sounds like mulching is not a good idea for iris pets bearded iris want to be bone dry they don't want mulch and they want to be planted right on top of the soil the rhizome the root wants to be right on top of the soil so mulch on top of those plants will encourage bacterial soft rot in irises which is another southern problem so know we you can see this bed is just bare dirt and that's the way they want to grow and they want to be as dry as possible and a very little fertilizer so as a general rule of thumb for the bearded iris high and dry they want to be yes then I in dry yes I can remember that okay you say we should dig iris in the summertime right after the bloom in July and August is the best time to move bearded irises that's when in that heat that's when they're closest to dormancy okay and that's when you would dig them and divide them to share with friends and yes move around your garden okay this is a bed of beard less iris also known as Siberian correct iris here and what is the the difference in care or similarities and care between this and the bearded iris well just during the year Siberian Iris want to be moist a fall care for these we trim the foliage back severely these are go completely dormant so they'll die all the way to the ground so we trim them back severely then we mulch this bed we're bearded don't want mulch the beardless Siberians really liked them all so we'll put an inch or two a mulch on this bed every year in the fall late fall we bees bloom generally about a week after bearded irises so you extend your season a little bit and but these also want fertilizer where bearded don't these like hein nitrogen fertilizer they're exactly opposite care for bearded as far as water and fertilizer and mulch I just want to make sure I understand this correctly the bearded iris like it high and dry and lean and the beardless iris of which this is a bed an example of Siberian Iris like moist soil so you mulch which helps retain the moisture and keep the weeds down and they also like richer nutrient so I'll show you fertilize twice per year is that correct very good again you want to leave the green as long as you can because that builds your bloom up for the next year these look good even after frost kills them they turn a rich reddish brown and so the foliage is is attractive even after they've been frosted but generally we try to cut them right after the first frost right after the first frost yeah and as far as fertilizing would you fertilize in the fall or in the spring early spring and after bloom so we usually give them two feedings like early Oh mid-march maybe to get them going for the balloon that year because they'll bloom like the second week of May and do use a slow release fertilizer or a fast-acting fast-acting so just a 10 10 10 triple 15 a little 15 okay Greg we're here in another bed of beardless irises Louisiana iris and as I understand it the Louisiana like moist soil and high nutrient is there any other difference that the Louisiana iris group would like as far as maintenance and care not really they'll take exactly the same conditions that Siberian Iris will so they want malts they want fertilizer they want moisture but Louisiana iris will grow in water they'll grow in a regular garden soil but they will grow in standing water so if you have a backyard pond you can sink these down in water and there that's really where they're happiest is in in standing water okay so for water gardeners Louisiana there's a way to go yes okay and as far as longevity and how long these last if folks are planting iris they're Gardens how long can they expect them to keep going and reblooming are they short lived or long lived well essentially if you take good care of them they'll last forever they they reproduce every year they multiply and the multiplication the one that multiplies is an exact genetic duplicate of the original so they will be around forever wonderful so it sounds like a good garden investment yes I believe so thank you Greg for your time thanks Andy good to see