Flowers in all the colours of the rainbow
Irises need well-drained soil. It is preferable for it to be slightly acidic. They need sun for at least half a day each day. Bearded Iris rhizomes should be planted in spring and summer so that they have plenty of time to establish before the winter months. When planted, the tops of the rhizomes should be exposed, with the roots spread out into the soil - don't make the mistake of planting the rhizomes too deeply. Space them about 30 to 60cm apart. If you plant them close together, you will get a better short-term show, but you will have to thin out more frequently. Once planted, water in well.
Exactly how you fertilise will depend on your soil type. However, you will want to use a low-nitrogen fertiliser (6-10-10) superphosphate or bone meal. Apply in the early spring and then about a month after the plants have bloomed.
When Bearded Irises are first set, you will need to keep them moist. Once established, the plants will probably not need watering unless it becomes extremely dry. It is a common mistake to over-water Irises. When you do water, deep watering now and then is better than shallow watering often.
About every three to five years, iris plants need to be divided or thinned. If you allow the plants to become too crowded, you will get fewer flowers and the potential for disease is increased. It is best to do this about a month after the flowers have finished blooming. Clumps can be dug up and the old, spent rhizomes removed. New growth will be evident on the sides. Break off the new rhizomes, and trim the foliage. Then replant them as outlined in the PLANTING tab.
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