Iris plants: description
The genus Iris has about 800 species. They grow in temperate regions of Asia, Europe and North America. They are classified as bulbous and rhizomatous. In the wild, plants can be found in a variety of places: in arid and semi-arid regions, in swamps, meadows, and riverbanks.
All irises have flower heads consisting of three large outer petals that drop down (called “waterfalls”), and three inner vertical petals known as “standards”. They are often decorated with contrasting beards, combs and attractive streaks.
There are different types. Irises can be “bearded” or “crested” (also called “beardless”). Bearded irises are so called because they have soft hairs in the center of the “waterfall”. The crested iris has a scallop.
Irises: features. The vast majority are hybrids, the most popular of which are bearded irises. Most species bloom in early summer. Some hybrids are remontant. This means that they bloom again later in the summer.
Additional information! Bearded iris (Iris germanica) is one of the most popular for cultivation. Spectacular flowers sit on tall thin stems, framed by stiff leaves that look like swords.
The flowers of bearded irises are available in shades of blue, brown, burgundy, purple, orange, pink, red, white and yellow, as well as two-tone. The petals are velvet with corrugated tips.
For cultivation, irises are conventionally divided into varieties of early, middle and late season, and there are also different stem heights:
- dwarf varieties from 25 to 40 cm;
- medium-sized – up to 70 cm;
- tall – above 70 cm.
Roots and foliage grow from thick fleshy rhizomes. They easily grow giving a lot of new plants.
Care for irises
The iris plant, like most garden perennials, grows well on any type of soil of good quality, but they also adapt to poor soils. The main thing is that there is no stagnation of water, which is disastrous for them. They grow well in neutral, well-drained soil. Too heavy and clay soils accumulate a lot of water in winter, and the bulbs can rot.
Preparing the landing site
Irises bloom best in the bright sun. Without enough light, they will not bloom. Bearded irises cannot be shaded by other plants. They can be planted in autumn or spring (autumn planting is preferable).
Pay attention! High varieties of iris are best planted closer to autumn, because they go into a dormant state in early-mid-summer. They will have enough time to gain a foothold before the coming winter.
When are irises planted? It is recommended to prepare the soil at least 2-3 weeks before planting by digging the soil to a depth of 25-30 cm, adding compost or mature manure. Add coarse sand if the soil is heavy.
Additional information! Leave room for growth, and do not bury the entire rhizome, as too deep planting worsens flowering. Iris rhizomes need a little sun and air to dry them. If they are covered with earth or clogged with other plants, they will rot.
Dig a shallow hole with a diameter of 40 cm and a depth of 15 cm. Plant the plant singly or in groups at a distance of 50 cm from each other, depending on the size.
Do not mulch around the roots so as not to cause rotting. Flowering usually occurs the following year. After planting, irises are unpretentious and live for several years without requiring special care. They remove weeds and keep the land around the plant clean.
Perennial irises are resistant to drought. A very common mistake when growing them is excessive watering. Too much moisture in the soil can cause rotting of rhizomes (roots).
Watering is necessary in case of drought, watering regularly and deeply. Moderate watering in early spring in case of excessive winter drought can help irises to develop rhizomes and bloom better. When planted in the ground, they do not require watering, because in summer they go into a state of rest.
In early spring, fertilizer with a low nitrogen content or balanced is applied around the plants. It is recommended to use fertilizers that contain 5% nitrogen, 10% phosphorus and 10% potassium – compounds necessary for iris. It is better to fertilize irises again after the end of the first wave of flowering.
Compost and mature manure are great additions. Carefully apply fertilizers to the soil, as irises have shallow roots that can be damaged.Cropping
After flowering, the peduncles are cut off, but the leaves are left in place, as they are necessary to generate energy for growth next year. By autumn, the leaves turn brown and die. At this time, they can be reduced to 20 cm in order to put the flower bed in order and prevent pests and diseases from wintering there. The remaining foliage will die off over the winter, and it can be removed in early spring.
Pay attention! When the flowers fade, the flower stems are removed to avoid the formation of seeds that unnecessarily strain the plant.
After a few years, too dense clumps of rhizomes may become less flowery. They need to be separated to restore flowering.
Cut the foliage by 10-15 cm and divide the rhizomes, leaving only the most beautiful parts with leaves and several roots. They are immediately transplanted to another sunny place in the already prepared garden.
Propagation from rhizomes
Irises are propagated by new shoots from the main one, because the rhizome can become woody and unproductive. Every year there are usually 3 or more new shoots from the old rhizome. They must be separated and planted every 3 years.
Within 6-8 weeks after flowering, the rhizome accumulates nutrients that will be used for plant growth next spring. After this period, the rhizome becomes mature, and the plant goes into a dormant phase (except for constantly growing repairers) until the first rains at the end of summer.
When are irises planted? To rejuvenate the bushes and create new plants, separate the roots after flowering in mid or late summer.
- Dig the soil at a depth of 30 cm, at some distance from the root lumps, using a garden fork.
- Carefully pry and lift the roots out of the soil, making sure not to break off the rhizome.
- It is divided by hand or cut with a clean sharp knife. They choose only healthy parts and throw away soft, rotting ones.
- Sprinkle the slices with powdered fungicide, for example, garden sulfur.
- Use clean garden pruners to reduce the size of the leaves by half.
In autumn, the second cycle of root growth begins. Any moderate watering accelerates the process of emergence of new roots. Therefore, it is best to divide and transplant the iris bunches immediately after the onset of summer dormancy, when the rhizomes have reached their maximum development. Among the new shoots, large ones are chosen. With the onset of spring, the iris begins to develop using the nutrients stored in the rhizomes.
Propagation of plants from seeds is also an option, although the germination rate may be as low as 50%, and it may take two to three years for flowers to appear. Seeds of hybrid varieties will not match the parent plant. In autumn, the seeds can be sown directly outdoors to a depth of 2 cm.
Pests and diseases
The iris flower usually has good immunity. However, there are several pests, as well as bacterial and fungal infections that should be paid attention to. Verbena moth, whitefly, iris weevil, thrips, slugs. snails, aphids and nematodes can cause concern.
The bearded iris can suffer from rhizomatous rot, which covers the rhizomes and the base of the leaves, causing rot. Most often appears in warm, humid conditions. The best way to cure this fungal problem is to cut out and discard the affected areas.
It can also be affected by leaf spotting – a fungal disease. Spotting on the leaves is a fungal infection, the most common. The spots on the leaves merge and darken to brown, and in wet weather may have spores that look like soot. Fungal spores easily spread in wet weather and penetrate through damaged leaves. All parts of the plant are removed and disposed of, and if possible burned to avoid the spread of spores.
Rust caused by fungi manifests itself in the form of small spots from light green to yellow, which gradually turn black as the leaves turn yellow and fade from the tip down.
Regularly check the rhizomes for the presence of small holes. Caterpillars can chew holes in foliage, but they are usually easy to control by picking by hand. Snails and slugs are also known to eat leaves and flowers, creating irregularly shaped holes. Any infected plants should be removed and discarded.
Aphids are small insects that suck the sap from the leaves. You can easily get rid of aphids with a strong jet of water from a garden hose.
Irises with a huge variety of colors, shapes and sizes are desirable plants in the garden. You can plant them next to the paths or in any other place, and enjoy the sweet aroma and beauty. As companions for irises, you can choose roses, peonies and lilies.