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Growing Iris In Utah

Growing Iris In Utah

Posted - May 14, 2004 at 7:51 p.m.



This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

Larry Sagers Horticultural Specialist Utah State University Extension Service Thanksgiving Point Office © All Rights Reserved

Two Iris Shows are being held at the Sugarhouse Park Garden Center 1602 East 2100 South on May 15 and May 29. The shows are from 1-5 PM and are free to the public.

Visit the Iris Show at the Utah House at the Utah Botanic Center in Kaysville, May 22, 2004. Accepting exhibits from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., show open to the public 12:00 noon - 5:00 p.m. Hourly demonstrations, starting at 12:00 noon and open house of the Utah Botanic Center Iris Collections, Hosted by the Davis County Master Gardener Association.

The Utah Iris Society was formed for iris lovers of the state in 1945. Members meet four times each year and sponsors two iris shows and two plant sales each year. All of these events are held at the. The Society is affiliated with the American Iris Society that has some six thousand members worldwide.

Irises are the ideal flower for Utah. The exquisite blossoms are so showy that they are often called the poor man=s orchids. They could only be described as hardy but beautiful, tough but elegant. In spite of their elegance, these plants are so tough they will survive with almost no irrigation in our harsh desert climate. The plant, of course, is the iris.

Irises are among the best-known garden plants. There are some 200-300 species and all are native to northern temperate regions of the world. Tall bearded irises, the most common kind in Utah, are hardy, herbaceous perennials.

Bearded irises get their name from the fuzzy fringe appendages located at the base of the falls. Many other attractive species of iris add interest and extend the bloom season in the garden.

Iris blossoms have three upright petals called standards and three hanging sepals called falls. Some varieties have standards and falls of the same color while other varieties have standards of one color and falls of another. Iris come in almost every color including some that are almost black.

Originally, bearded iris were called German Iris. They have been hybridized so extensively that they are no longer assigned to specific species. They are now separated by height into dwarf, intermediate and tall varieties. Standard dwarf-bearded iris grow 8-15 inches tall, intermediate bearded iris are 16-27 inches tall and tall bearded iris are usually over 3 feet in height. By growing many different types iris are in bloom in Utah from early April until at least mid June. Then the rebloomers produce more blossoms in the fall. This keeps the beds looking good.

Bearded iris require eight hours of full sun and good soil drainage. Because they are sun-loving, plant the rhizomes within an inch of the soils surface. They grow well in any good garden soil but are less susceptible to diseases in moderately fertile soils. Heavy, rich soils tend to produce soft growth. This increases problems with soft rot.

Avoid crowding with other plants that overshadow or mat closely around the iris root and foliage. Keep iris beds free of weeds. Free air movement discourages foliage diseases.

One common mistake is that people plant their iris too close together. The plants increase three fans each year so allow two feet between the plants. Dig iris every three years and separating them. True irisiarians keep two of each variety (in case one doesn=t make it through a tough winter) and give the others away or compost them.

AOvergrown iris clumps also cause a decrease in bloom stalks and bloom size -- another reason to divide triennially. After digging up your iris, mark the name (if known) on the fan, cut the foliage in the shape of a triangle and trim off long roots.

Divide and transplant iris after they bloom. Bearded iris grow from underground stems called rhizomes. The stringy roots arise from these fleshy stems. Replant rhizomes immediately so the roots keep growing. The plants then have a better chance of blooming the next year.

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