Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Irises--A Family Favorite

Prize-winning Iris
In an earlier post, I mentioned how my grandma loved Irises.  The variety she grew, I believe, had to be native to North America because they were so hardy and multiplied so rapidly, she couldn't dig them up fast enough and give them away.  We inherited a few of these lovely soft purple Irises and are having the same problem.  The only trouble is, if they aren't divided and given away often enough, they tend to overcrowd and do not bloom as much.

Growing Season

The main reason for writing this post is Irises will be blooming soon in Texas.  Some parts of the state will have the showy flowers bloom in February.  In my area, they tend to bloom in March and April.  My mother-in-law found out about the flower from me, and as usual when she planted her Iris bed, she had a show that lasted for a good month or more.  I have not been so lucky. 

This is probably due to the fact that Pat and I both are somewhat Darwinian when it comes to gardening.  It's the survival of the fittest around here.  A plant in our garden has to live on the rainfall and intermittent watering they receive from Pat.  Fertilizer?  What's Fertilizer? 
I digress. The point is the Iris blooming season is upon us, and if they have been neglected during the winter, never fear.  There are a few things that can be done now to ensure lovely spring blooms.

Grandma's Iris


Begin now watering established rhizoms once per week.  If it rains or snows, skip the weekly watering.  Be careful not to overwater.  Overwatering can cause some of the rhizomes to rot. 

DO NOT cut the leaves at all right now.  In fact, we do not ever cut the leaves unless they turn brown.  The rhizomes use the photosynthesis process to store sugar once blooms are spent.  This allows for lovely blooms during the next growing season. 

 Fertilize with regular NPK---nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium 5-10-10--once per month during the growing season.  Pat sprinkled an organic cotton-hull compost around our Irises.  He did this back in the fall and the compost has hopefully been activated with each rain and watering. 

Once Irises begin to bloom, wait until the blooms and stems dry up before removing them.  Again, the rhizomes use the bloom and stem to store sugar for the next blooming season.


The only pests I've noticed on the Irises are snails.  To help out this growing season I will be ready with the beer to entice the slimy slugs to their happy demise. 


  1. Wow, I had some white and pink irises, but never saw a blue one. So lovely.

  2. hi Bonnie, love the dusty pink colour of that prize winning iris - beautiful. Don't let that asparagus fern get out of its pot, or it can go crazy! I am in Queensland Australia, and we have it here! LOL I have just signed up to follow your blog - maybe you will follow me back? :)
    cheers Trish.