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I’m loving …iris 

Most iris have one huge and prolific spring flush, then go quiet for the rest of the year. But some are re-blooming, such as my favourite, ‘Victoria Falls’, an award-winning, tall bearded iris with light-blue, ruffled petals, each with a patch of white in the centre. 'Victoria Falls' produces three main branches and two spurs, and can produce up to 14 flowers.


Images: shutterstock

My friend Chris Shale, who has a lovely garden on Sydney’s north shore which she opens says, “It's surprising that repeat-flowering, tall bearded iris aren't grown more often. They flower at various times of the year as well as spring and tend to put on their best performance during autumn when many plants are slowing down and the garden needs a boost.”

These iris need similar care to other irises. However there is a theory (and it makes sense) that because re-bloomers have to work harder than other irises in order to flower more often, they need feeding more often. Chris feeds hers in August with a little lime plus superphosphate or rose food and again in mid-January. Her favourite is a soft-yellow re-bloomer called ‘Total Recall’, with pearly-white fall petals edged in yellow.

I feed my iris with Sudden Impact for Roses in August to encourage the spring flush. This fertiliser contains potash, which is good for all flowering plants. After flowering I cut the flower stem and feed again with pelleted manure sprinkled over the root area. The iris should not be allowed to completely dry out, so keep them watered in dry times.

Every four years I dig up each clump of iris, but not all at once. I dig one clump each year after flowering, spread it on the lawn, remove the dead centre and cut off the vigorous peripheral roots, with their shoots. Then I dig some compost through the hole and surrounding soil to condition the soil and add a sprinkle of lime. I plant each piece of root (rhizome) high on the top of the soil and secure it with a piece of coat hanger wire. You can cut the leaves into a fan shape if you wish. 

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Author: Sandra Ross