I am very fond of most any flower that is currently in bloom, but if I had to live the remainder of my life on a desert island and could only bring one plant with me, it would have to be a flouncy, ostentatious bearded iris. They remind me of colorful, over the top, ball gowns that scream to be noticed. The conditions of my garden also make them the most challenging plant to grow successfully.
In my garden, bearded iris grow best and successfully survive our cold, wet winters as long as I adhere to a strict regimen of summer fertilizing and fall garden cleanup. My heavy clay soil is not ideal for iris, which prefer well-drained sandy loam, and so they struggle to increase in size in the summer and are prone to rotting in the cold, wet soils of early spring. Iris are also plagued with iris borer from early May through August, which, if left unchecked, can wipe out entire colonies of plants in one season. Leaf spot, a fungal disease, is also an issue during the humid months of summer. Keeping a clean garden and understanding the life cycles of iris borer and leaf spot fungus are the best ways to minimize the damage they can bring, ensuring that your plants thrive and easily survive our long winters. Read More