The Q&A Archives: Iris Won't Bloom

Question: A little over a year ago, a friend gave us some "Iris" she had dug up on a friend's farm. We planted them prior to last season and, as I expected, they didn't bloom. I figured they needed time to adjust. This year, though the blades are big and strong, we still only have one bloom out of over 25 plants. What could be wrong and is there any way to tell what type of Iris it is before the bloom blooms?

Answer: Your experience sounds a bit suspicious. Here's some background information: Bearded Iris (the most often planted in gardens) grow from rhizomes that continue to grow on both ends. The older center part sometimes produces foliage but doesn't always produce a flower stalk. Iris beds should be dug and divided when the plants become overcrowded. The first indication that the clumps are overcrowded is failure to bloom. Iris grow best in full sunshine, in rich, moist soil. Given the above information, were the iris rhizomes you planted the new ends or the old centers? Did you amend the soil prior to planting and place the rhizomes just at the surface of the soil? Are they getting all day sunshine? And, finally, are they spaced 1'-2' apart? Hope the above information helps you track down the probable cause of non-flowering.

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