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Japanese Iris Planting Guide

Botanical Butterflies
Because of their flower form and amazing colors, Japanese irises have been likened to oversized fluttering butterflies. With one glance at an established planting in bloom, you'll see this horticultural transformation. It's breathtaking. With slender profiles, Japanese irises deliver more garden impact when planted in groups. Three are the minimum that will please most eyes, and patches of a dozen or more create an instant mature look that's riveting. Choose a spot with abundant sunlight and moist to slightly damp soil. Then, make this the season you start the Japanese iris garden you'll enjoy for countless future summers.
PLANTING
DEPTH

1 Inches

WATER
QUANTITY

Moderate

SUNLIGHT
QUANTITY

Full sun to partial shade

PLANTING
PROXIMITY

10-12 Inches Between
Planting

Outdoor Beds
  1. Find a location where the soil has an average amount of moisture, or in warmer areas it can even be a bit wet like on the edge of a pond. Japanese irises like soil that has generous amounts of humus and nutrients, so add some compost, decomposed manure or leaf mold if your soil is lean or sandy. Soil with a slightly acid pH is ideal.
  2. Site your Japanese iris where they will get full day sun. While they will grow in partial shade, blooms will be better with stronger light.
  3. Your irises will be shipped with green leaf fans and all the soil washed from the roots, so you won't risk introducing any soil-borne diseases into your garden, and the plant is lighter and cleaner to ship. Soak the roots and rhizomes in water overnight prior to planting.
  4. Tuck each plant, with the roots fanned slightly and pointing downwards, into a hole 3-5" deep. The junction point between the fan and the roots should be 1" below soil level. Pat the soil firmly around the plants. Space about 10-12" apart. To retain moisture and prevent winter heaving when the soil freezes, mulch your irises after planting.
  5. After planting, water well to settle the soil around the roots. Keep well watered until established. In warmer climates foliage will form in the autumn, winter will bring taller growth and flowers will develop in the spring. In colder regions foliage and flowers will wait until winter’s cold has passed and will develop in the spring.
  6. When in bloom, feel free to cut iris flowers for bouquets. This will not hurt your plants so snip away.
  7. After blooming has finished for the season leave the foliage in place; don't cut it off. The leaves will gather sunlight, create food through photosynthesis and strengthen the bulb for the future. Water as needed during active growth periods; about 1" of moisture per week is a good estimate.
  8. As cooler weather arrives in the fall, iris leaves may yellow and die back as the plant slips into dormancy. Foliage can be removed at this point. Your iris will rest for a few months before beginning the next growing cycle. In warm regions, iris foliage may stay green year round.


Pots, Barrels, Tubs & Urns
  1. Japanese iris plants are tall and slim. Plant them in large containers. Sometimes gardeners choose to site Japanese irises in containers because this offers the best option for providing the moist soils that these plants prefer.
  2. Fill your containers with good quality, humus-rich soil. Almost any commercially available potting medium will work fine. Add a bit of peat moss of the soil is heavy or compacted.
  3. Site your Japanese iris where they will get full day sun. While they will grow in partial shade, blooms will be better with stronger light.
  4. Your irises will be shipped with green leaf fans and all the soil washed from the roots, so you won't risk introducing any soil-borne diseases into your garden, and the plant is lighter and cleaner to ship. Soak the roots and rhizomes in water overnight prior to planting.
  5. Tuck each plant, with the roots fanned slightly and pointing downwards, into a hole 3-5" deep. The junction point between the fan and the roots should be 1" below soil level. Pat the soil firmly around the plants. Space about 12-15" apart. To retain moisture and prevent winter heaving, mulch your irises after planting.
  6. After planting, water well, gently soaking the soil and settling it around the roots. Keep well watered until established. In warmer climates foliage will form in the autumn, winter will bring taller growth and flowers will develop in the spring.In colder regions foliage and flowers will wait until winter’s cold has passed and will develop in the spring.
  7. When in bloom, feel free to cut iris flowers for bouquets. This will not hurt your plants so snip away.
  8. After blooming has finished for the season leave the foliage in place; don't cut it off. The leaves will gather sunlight, create food through photosynthesis and strengthen the bulb for the future. Water as needed during active growth periods; about 1" of moisture per week is a good estimate.
  9. As cooler weather arrives in the fall, iris leaves may yellow and die back as the plant slips into dormancy. Foliage can be removed at this point. Your iris will rest for a few months before beginning the next growing cycle. In warm regions, iris foliage may stay green year round.