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Making Bearded Iris Shine in the Garden


There is one thing most gardeners love but don’t plant: Flag Iris.  Although they are spectacular when in bloom,; out of bloom they are just a spiky grass-like plant.  Not only that but they start turning brown as soon as they are out of bloom.  I think it is a mind set; that people want spectacular blooms without any fuss.  Most gardeners forgive the wonderful yellow daffodil, but cringe as to what to do once the Flag Iris has stopped blooming. 


Let’s take a look at these very theatrical plants.  They are available in tall (3 -5 feet), medium (2 -3 feet) and short (1 – 2 feet).  Some even bloom more that once during the year.  Although this does forgive some of them, they still look like spiky grass-like weeds when not in bloom.  When shopping for rhizomes you need to find out as much as possible about their growth height so as to properly place them in the landscape.  Also check whether they bloom more than once during the year.  Also check the time that they bloom.  If you work it properly you can have spectacular bloom from April through June and perhaps into July.  Make sure that the rhizomes are firm and free of any holes in them.  There are some insects that hibernate in the root of the plant.  Nowadays many nurseries plant them up and sell them in bloom.  This makes it easy to select color, but it is difficult to judge the health of the rhizome. 


Flag Iris is compatible with just about any plant in your landscape.  They take the same nutritional needs as many roses.  Providing you have average drainage, they will survive areas that need more than average water.  They are also great plants to locate in succulent gardens as they tolerate dry soil.  The major need these plants have is proper planting.  They do not like to be buried with lots of soil over the rhizome.  The best thing to do is prepare the soil with a goodly amount of planting mix.  Add lots of bulb food, and then plant them so that the top ½ inch is showing above ground.  I use bulb food instead of bone meal in many cases because dogs often times are attracted to bone meal for obvious reasons.

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