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Irises Are The Rainbow Totem Of The Flower Bed

By Cheryl Moore-Gough of Montana State University
Irises, named for the ancient Greek goddess of the rainbow, grace many landscapes in the Rockies, and why not? The many types and colors are enough to keep anyone entertained throughout the growing season, and those with roots and shoots that grow underground are easily grown. Many of us go hog-wild tucking irises into every available corner of the yard.
These flowers give a strong vertical accent to any landscape and can be massed or used as individual specimens.
You can double, or even triple, your gardening pleasure by gently digging up the underground shoots, known as rhizomes. This produces plants that are genetically identical to the parent and helps alleviate overcrowding.
Divide irises every two to four years, immediately after flowering. Carefully dig up the plants and cut off the old portions of the rhizome. The healthy part will be succulent and firm, while the dead and dying portions will be brown and shriveled.
Cut the vigorous rhizomes into pieces containing at least one lateral bud. There should be four to six leaves attached to the healthy pieces. This is called the foliage fan. Shorten the leaves of the foliage fan by half their length. Read more...

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