- Rain, wind and snow continue, so it must be April. We are seeing
a few crocus blooming and my wonderful early white Arabis bloom,
daffodils are in bud and May will bring the tulips in full glory. We
did get outside on a few warm days in mid-March to begin the chore of
cleaning up and trimming brown stuff, but the cold weather drove us
back indoors for several days now.
Although there is not much color in the yard yet, we enjoyed a blaze
of geranium color on Easter Day, because we brought out many, many
pots of bloom from the greenhouse. Now that is a joy to see, color of
reds, pinks, fushia, mauve and salmon all over our deck and throughout
the yard as our grandchildren hunt the traditional hidden eggs and
Iris cleanup and weeding will be the major chores as the month
progresses. I don't trim mine in the fall as some diligent gardeners
do, so there's plenty of trimming and clean-up in the spring. It's
really a chore of love...love to be outside again and seeing things
grow. Working in some compost or other amendments will be part of the
plan in April. I'm pretty careful when working around the iris plants
with a hoe to avoid damaging the rhizomes.
Not much soil activity takes place until the soil warms up to about 40
degrees, so as the iris plants begin to grow they rely heavily on
nutrients stored in the rhizome the previous year. Most growth occurs
above ground as the plant produces leaves and flowers. New iris roots
develop as the bloom stalks begin to swell in the fans. These new
roots will help supply nutrients for new growth during and after
bloom. The old roots will die and wither away. During approximately
six to eight weeks after bloom the rhizome stores much of the food it
will need for the next spring's growth . While iris do need to be fed
from time to time, it is essential that fertilizing be done early in
the spring so the fertilizer can be broken down into forms the plants
can use. The finest quality of bloom is developed in richer soil, but
be careful as the soft growth that too much food produces is more
susceptible to the dreaded root rot. So I lean toward a little, not a
lot of feeding. For most of us a 5-10-10 or 6-10-6 commercial
fertilizer will work quite well. Organic based fertilizers are also
available in various formulations or you can mix your own. Iris does
need calcium, too.
Next month I'll try to share the tips Billie Gray has to share.
She'll be giving us her best advise on growing iris at the April
meeting. Try to attend if you can, but if you miss it, I'll try to
share her advice in the May column. Happy growing!