{ Posts Tagged ‘iris’ }

Early spring blooms

Early spring is my favourite time of year. Gardeners across Canada are so starved for petals, that it’s always a thrill to see the first flowers emerging in our gardens. Most of us had to wait three or four weeks longer than usual this year, but the insulating snow cover protected our most precocious bloomers, who cheerfully thrust their flowers up through the cold soil the moment the snow had melted.

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Did your irises bloom for you this year?

A few weeks ago my leaves on my irises were lush and green, but not a bud was to be found. Then one little bloom made it's way up in a completely different place in my garden, so I was wondering why I didn't have any blooms on the others! In a panic (OK, I’m being overdramatic–I’ll say out of curiosity), I consulted Anne Marie, who gave me some very helpful advice. Then, lo and behold, a couple of rainstorms brought forth the giant purple buds on my beloved irises and they’ve been blooming ever since.

In any case, I thought I'd share Anne Marie's tips for any readers who were not lucky enough to have blooms this year.

These are probably a type of bearded Iris. They should bloom reliably for you each year unless…

  • They have been moved or were divided last year (they take about three years to get back to full bloom again).
  • They are now too shaded; they need at least six hours of full sun.
  • The soil is too rich or too lean; too much nitrogen fertilizer can cause them to have little or no bloom and lots of foliage.
  • They are planted too deep; the rhizome should be peeking through the surface of the soil.
  • They are overcrowded; this will cause fewer blooms.
  • They have been attacked by an iris borer–look for shriveled or sunken rhizomes where the iris borer has done its damage.
  • They are being grown in too soggy of a location; they prefer to be slightly dry.

I definitely need to thin mine this year and will be following the tips in this article to divide them.

The last of my tasks

The weather has just not cooperated this fall. Granted my schedule can be a bit hectic, so I can't just expect Mother Nature to conform to MY timetable, but seriously, does it have to rain every time I have a free moment? It poured this past weekend, so I didn't get the opportunity to do any raking, but I managed to sneak out today for an hour before work and get some of those leaves up in my backyard before the snow flies.

The one thing I've neglected to do is trim back some of the lily and iris foliage around my yard.

I asked Anne Marie if I can cut it back before winter and here is what she had to say:

  • If your iris and lily foliage is ready to be removed (i.e easily pulled out) go right ahead.
  • Lilies: After the foliage has naturally died down, remove all but 4 cm of the stem so you know where the plant is next spring.
  • Bearded iris: Do not mulch, cut foliage down to 15 cm.

And alas, as I'm about to post this, it's starting to snow.

When should I divide my perennials?

Yesterday was a gorgeous September day and I found myself out in the garden admiring my perennials–my mums have all of a sudden exploded with colour! Some of my plants, however, have gotten quite dense over the summer. A couple of my hostas are so huge a neighbourhood cat was sleeping under one the other day and I didn't even notice until it crawled out and gave me a sleepy “meow.”

What to do with my crowded beds? I haven't really had to divide anything until now (except my irises), so I wasn't sure when the best time of year is to do it.

I consulted Anne as I think I'd probably better get a move on if I'm going to divide anything before the first frost. Here is her advice:

  • The best time to divide most perennials is in early spring. This will give the plant time to get settled before the summer weather challenges arrive.
  • The second best time to divide most perennials is in early fall, when the soil is still warm and plants can get settled before winter arrives. Divide perennials about 6 weeks before the first frost.
  • Some considerations to think about; often the soil is too wet to dig in the spring when it is the ideal time to divide. Some experts also suggest that spring and summer blooming perennials should be divided in the fall, and fall blooming perennials divided in the spring. This means you are dividing non-blooming plants, which will have a better chance of survival.
  • Exceptions to this rule include bearded iris (August only), columbine (fall only), oriental poppy (early summer after flowering), bleeding heart (early summer after flowering) and peony (late summer).
  • Divide plants on a cloudy day. Water them well the day before the move. And water them well after the move.
  • Cover them if necessary to reduce wilting.
  • Take as much soil as you can lift from around the roots and replant immediately.
  • Use a garden fork or garden spade to loosen the soil and dig out the clump. An old, large kitchen knife, sharp garden spade or two garden forks are handy to divide the clump. Save the most vigorous sections of your clump from the outer edges to replant.

This information will find a place in my gardening journal. I also found this article written by Anne on dividing perennials, which I am going to print, along with the information above, for handy reference.