Growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area. With a wiener dog.

March 7, 2015

Iris in Phoenix, Arizona

It's March 7th and the iris are starting to bloom here at The Tropical Paradise. I live in Glendale, Arizona, which is a suburb of Phoenix, and have been growing iris (irises? irii?) for many years now, and they do great. Of course I've made a lot of mistakes along the way (I'm experimenting, mostly) and here is what I have learned:

• Plant the bulb (actually it's a rhizome) shallowly in an area that will get plenty of sun and where you can count on water to puddle a bit. Iris need sunlight to bloom, but they also love to have *their feet wet*. Mine do best at the bottom on the little hill there on the west-facing side of the yard. Lots of sun, and plenty of water. Water them as much as you want, they're practically water plants.

• Keep them in an area that is easy to reach. That is, don't plant them way out where you can't get to them easily. Iris blooms don't last, and look ratty very quickly. After the bloom, cut the stalk to the ground. I keep them right along the edge where I can trim them while I'm doing a morning inspection with my coffee.

• Stick to the basic type. I've experimented with lots of different types, and colors, and find that the purplish-blue ones do the best here. They have beautiful foliage, come back year after year, and, well, they're purplish blue, which I like.

I got most of the iris plants here many years ago from my neighbor who was named, appropriately enough, Iris. Hers hadn't been blooming for years, and she trusted me to dig out the bed and reset them (which is what you've gotta do if you have an old clump that isn't blooming anymore). Of course, there were way too many to put back, so I took a few and threw away a lot. I planted them all over my property and watched to see what worked. I think I may be getting closer to figuring it out, but I'm still not sure! It's fun to experiment, and when it works it makes me think I that I know what I'm doing!
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