I happen to love irises and have many of them. I got started when I gardened at a community garden and someone gave me several tubers of a purple iris with no name. Then one day a group at work said they had decided to do a combined order for an iris farm in Oregon, so they could get a better discount and even some free irises, “Did I want to join in?” Of course, I said “Yes.” Now I have dozens, including a bunch of duplicates, of which I need to give some away.
Growing irises isn’t too hard. Bearded irises can grow in Hardiness Zones 3-10. They need well drained soil and can’t stand standing water and will rot. If the soil has too much clay, organic matter can be added. Growing on a slope would be ideal, as this insures good drainage. They also need to go in a sunny location and need 6-8 hours of sun a day.
Cover the irises with about 1 inch of soil. The tops of the tubers should sit right at the soil line. If irises are planted deeper than this, they may not bloom. You can fertilize in early spring and after the irises bloom, but avoid fertilizers high in nitrogen.
Plant irises between 12-24 inches apart. The iris tubers enlarge and you need divide iris tubers every 3-4 years. If you wait too long, they can become crowded and not bloom as well. I used to dig the tubers up to divide them, but have started only digging up the oldest tuber and maybe another division. This really saves work. Cut the bloom stems down after flowering and cut back dried or diseased foliage.
Swap excess tubers with friends and enjoy an expanding collection of irises in your garden.