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October 28, 2017 3:40 am

Easy to Grow, and Visually Stunning Irises

Saturday, June 27, 2015 @ 3:45 AM

An old time favourite perennial found in many local landscapes is the German Iris (Iris germinica). Their exotic flowers are stunning. This easy to grow and care for perennial, comes in a wide array of colours, styles, and varieties. They are able to grow in most soil types, and climates which is part of their charm.

Although German Iris can tolerate most soils, including clay, they grow best in a fertile, well drained, soil.

Plant them in an area where they will receive full sun to partial shade. German Irises are grown from a rhizome. The rhizomes are available at the garden centres in the spring, or the plants become available in the perennial section of the garden centre from late April onwards. When planting German iris, plant them in the ground to the same depth they are in the container. If planting from rhizomes, the rhizome should be planted at ground level, so the top of the rhizome is exposed. If planted too deeply, it will produce leaves but not blooms and is more susceptible to soft rot iris borer.

Irises will slowly spread and the centre may die out. They should be divided every few years, to increase their blooms and keep the plant healthy.

Division is also the way irises are propagated. Divide irises after they have finished flowering in mid summer. Gently dig up the rhizomes and divide them with a knife. Only replant the healthy rhizomes and throw out the soft, and hollow ones. Replant rhizomes in the same area or in new areas of the garden. Space them 30-40 cm apart as they need air circulation.

To help the rhizome produce a strong root system, trim back the foliage to 20-25 cm, so that the plant’s energy goes towards the roots, as you want the plants roots established before winter sets in.

German Iris bloom for 2-3 weeks, and can be seen blooming now, as they bloom in late spring/early summer. The beautiful, large slightly scented flowers are a show stopper. The flowers are made up of two parts. The standards are the three upright petals, and the falls are the three petals that hang down and have the thick bushy beard. The flowers can be all one colour or multi coloured.

When not in bloom, the plant is attractive with its broad, flat, sword-like foliage. After the iris flower is finished, remove it from the stem, preventing it from forming seed, which takes energy away from the plant.

Bearded Iris flowers can also be used as cut flowers. Choose flowers that are just beginning open. The best time to cut flowers is in the morning. Place the cut flowers in water immediately. Re-cut the stems before placing them in the arrangement.

Jos Van Hage owns and operates two Art Knapp Home and Garden Centres in Prince George
Highway 16 West at Kimball road
Highway 97 North at Northwood Pulpmill Road


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