Very Few Iris Blooms

Question:

Does anybody know why my irises didn't bloom very much this year? I had lots of foliage but very few blooms. We've only lived here a year and I can't remember what they did last year but this year I watched. I'm dividing them now (right or wrong?) so maybe they were crowded?

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Hardiness Zone: 4a

Judi from Elgin, Oregon

Answer:

Judi,

Your assessment of the situation is probably right on the money. Irises grow in clumps. As they grow, they start to get crowded and their productivity declines. Dividing them every 2-3 years will easily solve this problem.

To divide your irises in the fall, cut the fans (leaves) back to 3 to 4 inches in length and use a sharp spade or shovel to separate them from each other so you can lift them out of the ground. When replanting, make sure you pick a sunny spot and that you plant the rhizomes so that the tops are exposed at the surface of the soil, or only slightly covered with soil. Water them in well.

Other factors that can affect how well your irises flower include the following:

  • Sunshine. To maximize flowering, your irises should receive at least 6 hours of full sun each day. Make sure that the trees and shrubs around your irises have not grown up to the point of blocking out their sunlight.

  • Fertilizer. A fertilizer high in nitrogen will stimulate vegetative growth at the expense of flowers. If you fertilize your irises, choose a fertilizer that is higher in phosphorus than nitrogen (e.g. 5-10-5)

  • Water. Too little in the late winter/early spring can adversely affect flower production. Watch moisture levels in the spring to ensure your irises are getting the moisture they need for proper development.

Ellen

About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com

July 10, 20080 found this helpful

Hi,

Iris do not like to be crowded, so dividing them is probably a good idea (not sure of timing for this myself). I do know that while the roots need to be deep, the rhizome needs to be near the surface. Below is a link that you might find useful for growing/planting iris.

http://www.irises.org/growing.htm

Good luck!

Joyce

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July 10, 20080 found this helpful

I also think that they may just be over-crowded. I also had a problem one time with white grubs eating the rhizomes, it weakens the plant and it won't bloom. I thinned them out, threw away any with grubs in them, or any soft rhizomes, and replanted them. Because they don't like to be set deep in the soil, they fall over a lot if there is too much foliage. I trimmed the green foliage back a little so that the plants would sit straight. They didn't all bloom the next year, but the following year they were great! Best wishes to you and happy gardening, Paula

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July 10, 20080 found this helpful

I got some from my daughter 3 years ago and this year is the first time they bloomed. I was told by a master gardener that they must have 3-5 or 5-7 leaves before they will bloom. Don't give up on them. They will surprise you.

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July 11, 20080 found this helpful

Most Iris beds bloom well only every other year, because once a Rhizome has bloomed, it makes an offshoot that takes another year to bloom.

When one plants a bed, they likely start with all similar sized Rhizomes, thus, there are no offshoots

to bloom well the next year, taking a year to set the blooms. I suggest planting younger with the old, or

dividing the Rhizomes more often, OR accepting the

fact that you'll likely only get more pretty blooms every other year.

In Texas, they take no care, preferring ordinary clay loam and a little mulch mixed in, less water, and nothing much other than removal of deal leaves, and dividing when over crowded. If any of the bases look holey, they likely have bugs and are the previous blooming plant making way for the offshoot to grow, also providing nutrients for it.

I have several dwarf varieties, and tall varieties, single colors, and bi-color and tricolors of about five or six variety colors in all, I forgot which.

One year, years ago, I drove the entire city looking for good varieties of Iris to request a start from the owner, all of whom were willing to share. I am the most pleased with the bi-color of the most brilliant yellow edged in white; then the tri-color, of course, in shades of apricot and pink. One I bought is nearly black, but has not bloomed nor multiplied as profusely because it is being overshadowed by a Boxwood and needs to be moved in the Fall. The plain whites are my least favorite, but the pale and dark lavenders are very fragrant.

Mine bloom for about three weeks a year, which I remove as each separate bloom fades, to encourage

it to continue making buds and blooming.

Hope this helps. Good luck and God bless. : )

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July 11, 20080 found this helpful

Dividing them and when you replant, dig the hole and put a handful or so of Milorganite in the hole before the plant and you will be surprised how they bloom the next year! Also, don't plant them deep. They like to be just under the soil.

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July 11, 20080 found this helpful

As Joyce said, the rhizomes need to be close to the surface...even showing a little. Most people have a tendency to plant too deep.

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