Thursday, November 24, 2011

Winter Care for Irises

Irises are flowers that grow from a rhizome.  This rhizome is planted close to the soil surface; no more than two inches bellow the soil surface.  When winter comes there may be snow and ice and if the iris is not shielded from the winter weather the rhizome may be damaged. 

Late November marks the end of autumn and soon the winter season will bring snow and ice.  This is the time to get the iris gardens ready for winter.  Care for your irises by removing the leaves, sticks, and acorns.  Then do a hand pull to remove any remaining weeds.  Protect the iris rhizome with a light organic mulch; pine needles, grass clippings or fresh wood from chipper.  

    Questions and Answers:
    Why do you apply organic mulch?  Organic mulch retains moisture, helps in preventing weed growth, provides root protection and when the mulch decomposes the nutrients improve the soil

    Why do your remove leaves from iris bed?  Leaves attract borers and rodents and these garden pests will eat the iris rhizome.  So it is best to remove all leaf matter from the iris gardens. 

    What is the best way to remove leaves from iris garden?   Removing  leaves from an iris bed is a little tricky because a conventional rake will uproot the plant.  The was best way remove the leaves is to blow them out of the garden.  Set the blower on low and slowly move the leaves out away from your plants. Slow and gentle movement will not harm the rhizome or disturb the roots.  If there are remaining leaves then go over the iris garden lightly with a metal tines rack.  By raking over the iris bed you will be able to remove the leftover leaves, sticks and acorns.  There will always be leaves leftover, that are buried in the foliage.   Remove the remaining leaves  by hand.  

    When do you weed your iris garden?

    Spot check for weeds in the garden before you apply the organic mulch.

    Irises grown and photographed by sgolis


    Remove the organic mulch from your iris garden in early spring.  Do this to prevent borers and other rhizome eating pests .

    View this video to learn more about caring for irises.


    1 comment:

    BarbRad said...

    We don't get ice and snow in winter here, so I've never had to do any of this. The irises still come back each year and more of them. I usually feed them some bone meal in the spring before they bloom.