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Gardening Articles: Flowers :: Bulbs

Reblooming Irises (page 2 of 2)

by Karen Dardick

How to Grow Rebloomers

Plant reblooming irises in summer so they can root before winter. They'll thrive in almost any location that receives at least five hours of sun and that has slightly acidic, well-drained soil. Set rhizomes 1 to 2 feet apart at ground level so that they are exposed to sunlight. Point the rhizome in the direction you want it to grow. Growth will continue from the leaf end. If you live where soil freezes, mulch new plantings in winter to prevent soil heaving. East of the Rocky Mountains (except for the Gulf Coast) iris borers are a common pest; during the growing season, keep the iris bed clean and unmulched to eliminate their breeding areas.

Remontant irises have accelerated life cycles. They grow and flower faster than the one-timers so they need additional fertilizer and water. Avoid high-nitrogen fertilizers that encourage vegetative growth. Use a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, in spring and again in summer (in warm climates feed four times yearly). Water deeply in August and September if rainfall is scarce. After four years, clumps will become crowded and need dividing and replanting. At planting time, lift the clump with garden forks. Remove the nonproductive rhizomes in the center, and carefully break apart the clump.

Save the large new fans with foliage. You'll have extra to share with friends.

The popularity of rebloomers has been limited by their scarcity. Nurseries and garden centers usually have few for sale. The best source is iris growers specializing in rebloomers. They will advise you which varieties perform best in your area.

A Selection of Reblooming Irises

In these lists, Zone 10 refers to arid regions only. Irises won't rebloom in hot, humid regions in zone 10 (Gulf Coast and Florida).

Tall Bearded

  • 'Champagne Elegance' (zones 5-10): champagne standards, muted pink falls.
  • 'Clarence' (zones 5-10): white wash over violet falls.
  • 'Earl of Essex' (zones 4-10): white edged with stitching
  • of medium blue-violet.
  • 'Eternal Bliss' (zones 5-10): very pale violet with light tangerine beards.
  • 'Feed Back' (zones 5-10): medium blue-violet with yellow beards.
  • 'Harvest of Memories' (zones 5-10): medium yellow.
  • 'Immortality' (zones 3-10): white.
  • 'Matrix' (zones 4-10): cream with cinammon stitching.
  • 'Misty Twilight' (zones 4-10): pale violet-blue with misty green in center of falls around pale blue-violet beards.
  • 'Pink Attraction' (zones 5-10): ruffled pale pink.
  • 'Silver Dividends' (zones 6-10): ruffled silver-white.
  • 'Summer Olympics' (zones 4-10): yellow with large white blaze around orange beards.
  • 'Sunny Disposition' (zones 5-10): light yellow.
  • 'Violet Music' (zones 5-10): violet.
  • 'Witch of Endor' (zones 5-10): dark burgundy bitone.
  • 'Zurich' (zones 5-10): ruffled white with yellow-tipped beards.

Dwarf Bearded

  • 'Baby Blessed' (zones 5-10): yellow.
  • 'Plum Wine' (zones 5-10): plum-red.

Karen Dardick is a garden writer based in Los Angeles.

Photography by Suzanne DeJohn/National Gardening Association

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