This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area

December 15, 2013

A trick for encouraging growth in iris

It's the second week of December here at The Tropical Paradise in Glendale, Arizona, and if you planted iris in September or October, you should be seeing some strong growth by now. Don't worry, they won't bloom until February, but they will do a lot of growing in the next couple of months. And you can encourage growth, and ultimate bloom with a simple trick, simply scraping away the soil at the base.

I just use my fingers and scrape away some of the leaf litter, rocks and any other stuff that is around the base of each plant. Yes, it's OK if you can actually see the top of the bulb. When you do the scraping, you make a little swale that will hold water better. Get a large watering can with some plant food mixed in (I use Miracle Grow, but they're all the same) and water. Then do it again, and again. Iris love water, and for some strange reason, they do better with their roots exposed. I don't know why, but they do. Iris that are planted too deep don't do as well. I found this out by accident, because, well, I got sloppy one time in my planting.

One of the really nice things about iris is their beautiful, tropical foliage. And the foliage will grow like crazy during the winter months. Remember that iris is just a large flowering grass, so treat it like grass. Give it water and fertilizer and stand back and watch it grow. When the weather starts to warm up, it will bloom. Once its finished blooming, it will start to die back. When the weather cools down again, with water, it will return.
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