June is traditionally the month that the glamorous flowers of tall bearded Irises start appearing in gardens.
Their showy appearance and tissue-like petals might suggest that they need a fair bit of attention, but not a bit of it, they’re really quite undemanding.
Here’s a few good reasons to grow them:
- for their frilly, ruffled flowers that come in a whole range of colours except red and black
- the shape of the plant and its’ leaves make a good contrast to other shapes in a border
- they’re easy to grow in a sunny spot in well-drained soil
- they’re not susceptible to any particular pests and diseases
- little work is needed, they mostly just get on with the business of producing beautiful flowers.
Plant them in September, making sure that the rhizome, that bulbous part of the plant at the base of the stem that looks a bit like a big piece of ginger, is proud of the soil and gets plenty of sun. It’s this part of the plant that stores energy and helps it to survive in challenging conditions.
The plant needs dividing usually every three or four years, or when it produces fewer flowers, it’s an easy process and you get more plants.
simply dig the plant up with a garden fork
gently pull away, or use a sharp knife to remove the younger rhizomes that have a healthy set of roots and a small fan of leaves attached.
older rhizomes, towards the centre of the clump, or ones that are hollow can be thrown onto the compost bin
cut the leaves reducing them in height by half so the plant can concentrate on growing more roots
then re-plant the young rhizomes, about 30cm/12in apart, spreading out the roots before they’re covered with soil. Water them in and leave them to bask in the sun.
They shouldn’t need anymore attention, too much water can make them rot.
Iris plants are available here
Happy gardening, Jill
photos: Jill Anderson, all the photos were taken at Claire Austins’ stand at The Chelsea Flower Show this year.