How to Care for the Iris Flower

Growing iris plants is a relatively simple process for anyone who has a naturally "green" thumb. These flowering plants grow from rhizomes (fat roots, or bulbs). Rhizomes are available at lawn and garden centers as either a bare bulb or as a bulb with clipped roots and leaves. Once you have established iris plants, you can easily divide them and transplant some of the rhizomes to new locations. Caring for iris plants takes only a couple easy steps.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Mulch
  • Fertilizer
  • Shovel
  • Water

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Compost iris plants each spring. Always leave the rhizome exposed, with a thin layer of compost surrounding it. This is also a good time to add fertilizer and food to the soil around the plant.

Prune flower stalks after the flowers have faded. This will encourage reblooming and keep your plant clean and neat.

Water the iris regularly all summer.

Prune the plant again in the autumn -- get rid of dead leaves and stems, and prune the healthy leaves back to within 4 to 5 inches of the main stalk.

Cover rhizomes with a healthy layer of mulch before the winter to protect them from the cold.

Divide iris plants and rhizomes every 5 years or so to keep them healthy and controlled.

Tips & Warnings

  • Divide and transfer iris rhizomes 2 to 3 weeks after blooming finishes.
  • Different breeds of iris have different water needs. Care for pond irises will be different than care for land irises.
  • If your iris does not have time to "establish" before winter, it might not survive the cold weather.
  • Irises are aggressive plants, and are likely to take over any other vegetation in the area.


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