PLANTING AND CARE INFORMATION
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- Iris need sun. Plant your iris where they'll have at least a half day's sunshine, and a full day is even better. Iris rhizomes need water, but they also need to be kept dry.
- What are the rhizomes? Iris rhizomes are the fleshy, root-like part of the plant. They are not bulbs, and they need to be planted so that the top of the rhizome is peeking through the soil or, in very cold parts of the country where there may be frost heave, just under the soil.
- Plant in soil with good draining. Since iris don't like to keep their feet wet, they need to be in soil with good drainage. Don't plant them where water will sit on top of the soil.
- Do not mulch. Mulching retains moisture, and too much moisture will cause soft rot of the rhizomes.
- Prepare the beds. Iris do not need, and do not like soil rich in nitrogen: use a low-nitrogen fertilizer early in the spring, and a gain just after floom when the rhizomes are coming on for the next year's flowers.
- When to water? Water your iris after transplanting, and when the ground is very dry.
- How far apart to plant. Iris need good air circulation. They increase fairly quickly and will soon be crowded if planted closer than 16-18" apart, minimum. Miniature varieites, of course, can be planted closer together, but you'll be surprised how quickly iris grow to fill in the avialable space.
- Don't let seedpods fall on the ground. Sooner or later, every iris gardener will have pods set naturally-- those pods are called bee pods. They're fun to see, but be sure to keep them from maturing. Those seeds that fall to the ground may germinate and they will not bloom true to the parent plant. In fact, every one of those seeds is a new hybrid iris! Even the looky-loos that may come up looking similar, or even alike, the pod parent! So, if you want to know what's planted in your garden, be sure to dead-head the pods and toss them away. If you want to try your hand at growing iris from seed, then bag the pods (I use organza party bags), let them mature on the plant and harvest them when they dry.
- Do a fall clean-up. Keeping the garden clean reduces changes of diseases and unwanted, harmful insects.
- Make dividing a habit. Every three or four years, your iris will want to be divided in