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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What growing conditions do bearded irises require?
  2. Is there any location where bearded irises won’t grow?
  3. How much water do bearded irises require?
  4. When should I plant my bearded irises?
  5. When should I dig and thin my irises?
  6. How far apart should bearded irises be planted
  7. How deep should bearded irises be planted?
  8. What fertilizer do bearded irises require?
  9. My irises look healthy but they don’t grow, increase, or bloom -- what’s wrong?
  10. We’ve sold our house and are getting ready to move. How can I take some of my irises with me?

1.

What growing conditions do bearded irises require?

Bearded irises need well-drained neutral pH soil with as much sunlight as possible. A half day of sunshine is the minimum.  More sunlight is preferable.
 

2.

Is there any location where bearded irises won’t grow?

Bearded irises require a definite winter season. They won’t grow well (or bloom) in south Florida, south Texas, or coastal areas.
 

3.

How much water do bearded irises require?

Not much. Ordinarily, average rainfall is adequate. The fastest way to kill your irises is to water them too much or too often during the summer.
 

4.

When should I plant my bearded irises?

Plant new irises immediately after you get them. They need at least six to eight weeks to get well established before winter begins.
 

5.

When should I dig and thin my bearded irises?

Every three to four years you should dig, thin, and replant bearded irises in late summer or early autumn. Keep the rhizomes which have white roots and green leaves. Discard the rest. For easier planting, trim the roots to two inches long. Cut the leaves back to about six inches in length with the center leaf of the fan being the longest.
 

6.

How far apart should bearded irises be planted?

Tall bearded irises (over 27") should be planted 12 to 18 inches apart. Median irises (between 10" and 26") should be planted 8 to 12 inches apart. They need the space to expand as they multiply.
 

7.

How deep should bearded irises be planted?

In warmer climates, plant the iris with the top of rhizome just below ground level. In colder climates, plant the iris about one-half to one inch deep. Water well after planting; then water again in a couple of days. After that, normal rainfall should be adequate.
 

8.

What fertilizer do bearded irises require?

Fertilize your irises twice a year using a formula that is high in phosphorus (that is the middle number). Do not feed lawn fertilizer to irises or allow lawn fertilizer to travel into the iris beds. Lawn fertilize is high in nitrogen (that is the first number) which causes lush growth and little to no flowering.

Ideally, feed your irises about six weeks before bloom time and about six weeks before winter.
 

9.

My irises look healthy but they don’t grow, increase, or bloom -- what’s wrong?

Sounds like the pH level of your soil is not compatible to the plants’ needs. Have your soil tested so you’ll know exactly what pH and other elements you have. Irises prefer a neutral pH (7.0). If your pH is high, your soil is alkaline and can be amended by adding sulfur. If your pH is low, your soil is acid and can be amended by adding lime.
 

10.

We’ve sold our house and are getting ready to move. How can I take some of my irises with me?

As you dig each of your favorite irises, use a Sharpie marker to write the iris name or color on the center back of the leaves. Trim the roots and the leaves as described above. Place the irises in a cardboard box or paper sack (not a plastic bag). Keep them cool and DRY (not refrigerated). Replant them as soon as possible - within two to three weeks maximum. If you are moving during very cold or very hot weather, you may need to pot the irises and keep them in a shaded location until the ground temperature modifies.
 

 

 

Contact:  Webmaster  |  Updated January 30, 2005