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Bearded Iris a Natural for Green Gardening

by Karen Lawson, All About Lawns Columnist

If you're into green gardening, and want some great color for landscaping and cut flowers, bearded iris can fill the bill. Depending on type and growing conditions, bearded iris range from about 15 to 40 inches in height, and are available in colors ranging from pure white to nearly black. Many varieties of bearded iris produce multicolored flowers and their striking color combinations are festive in floral arrangements. Unlike many plants that bear showy flowers, bearded iris require relatively little maintenance.

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Bearded Iris Thrive on Organic Nutrients

Plant bearded iris rhizomes a few weeks before frost is expected. Bearded iris prefer slightly alkaline soil. You can buy a soil test kit at a garden supply center or contact your local university extension service. Compost can be a great fertilizer for bearded iris because they prefer organic nutrients low in nitrogen. Prepare garden beds by adding necessary amendments and mixing well before planting. Less is usually more when fertilizing bearded iris. Too much fertilizer can cause failure to thrive, and may result in fewer flowers.

Each rhizome should be positioned horizontally over a small mound in a shallow hole. Fill the hole with soil that allows for good drainage. Because soft rot can occur when rhizomes remain moist for prolonged periods, well-drained soil is typically essential for growing iris.

Green Gardening: Keeping Your Bearded Iris Healthy

Bearded iris may fail to bloom if they don't get enough sun. The foremost insect pests targeting bearded iris are iris borers and aphids. Iris borers are best controlled through cultivation. Trimming away infested areas of the plant and removing dead foliage each fall can help reduce borer infestations. Aphids can be controlled using organic insecticidal soap or beneficial insects such as ladybugs.

To add some color to your green garden, consider adding the the bearded iris to your landscape.

About the Author
Karen Lawson is a freelance writer with an avid interest in gardening and horticulture. She earned BA and MA degrees in English from the University of Nevada, Reno.

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