Sunday, May 10, 2009


The iris. We have many irises in the garden, but they're not doing all that well. Our friend Sue divided some of them back in 2006, but that didn't make them bloom any better. I need to do some research to see if they need something they're not getting to look better.

A purple bearded iris.

Still, the ones that do bloom look pretty nice. The aforementioned friend, Sue, lives in the Sierra Foothills of California and has abundant irises on her property. They're spectacular bloomers and the only thing she does is divide them every now and then. Where she lives is hot and dry, and they thrive.

Where we live is cold and wet, comparatively, and our irises don't do much. But other people in our town have beautiful irises, so I know they will do well here. I need the secret.

Update: I just read that irises like well-drained soil. The soil in our garden is heavy clay and needs serious amendment for many plants. We've been amending the soil annually in the vegetable garden, but hardly anywhere else.

So, what to do? I suppose I should dig up the irises later this summer and get a load of sand to mix into the beds. Or, maybe I should prepare just one bed and move all the rhizomes to that single location. Any thoughts out there?


  1. Do your irises get full sun? Are their rhizomes visible above the ground?

    I learned exactly how to divide and replant irises and followed the advice carefully. Leftover plants went on the compost pile, which my husband thought was a waste, so he tossed them along the shady part of the lane, not even digging them in. Disaster, I thought, but most of them rooted and bloomed.

    Which makes me think that planting not too deep is the main thing.

  2. I agree. They like to have their rhizomes baked a bit in the sun, and don't care too much about water, except if the soil stays wet and rots the rhizomes. I can get them to flower in my damp shady courtyard in London, but they have been much slower to bulk up than if they had been in the sun. (I've just cut all the flowers off to give to my neighbours, as I am taking the plants with us tomorrow. Not sure whether that should be :-) or :-(

  3. Walt if you go on (photo de la nature, passion de la nature) the gentleman on May 3 posted a beautiful picture of crimson irises. They have a lovely smell, almost like pastry (to me).

  4. Very topical...
    Today I am dead-heading roses (they are quite beautiful and prolific right now).
    But my question concerns irises. I, too, have irises from Sue of the Sierra foothills, only mine are yellow. They bloom well.

    Question: When the blooms die, is there a right way to trim back the spent blossoms? Or do you just leave them alone?

  5. Still loving your fantastic photos wcs! (I have no green thumbs, and so can't offer any tips!)

  6. carolyn, I think you're right. I read something just like what you described.

    susan, good luck with the move!

    judy, thanks!

    nadege, now pastry is not a word I would think of to describe the scent of a flower! Cool!

    cheryl, I don't know! I've never dead-headed ours... Do you know what Sue does?

    evol, thanks!


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