• The beauty of Iris Germanica and Siberica

    Iris Germanica or Bearded Iris have large blade like leaves and large flowers, the flowers have a beautiful structure, three upper petals and three lower petals, the lower petals have soft hairs at the top which gives the name “Bearded Iris.

    Iris Siberica are slimmer family members the flowers are beardless, no hairs on the flowers they have a more delicate look to them Iris Siberica love the sun but will tolerate partial shade they will also take more moisture than Germanica although they do not like waterlogged soil, the leaves are more grass like unlike the thicker fleshy Iris Germanica and they will tolerate any soil from light to heavy. Iris Germanica and Siberica are easy to grow, plant in a sunny position where their rhizomes can bake in the sun, don’t plant with ground cover plants as they can hide the rhizomes from the sun.

    Bearded Iris like a soil with good drainage they like a neutral soil but will cope if the soil is chalky or alkaline, if you have clay or heavy soil add in some grit to help with the drainage. Our iris are bare rooted if you can’t plant straight away put in some damp compost otherwise give then a light soak to plump up the rhizomes and plant at soil level spreading the roots a little; give them about 30cm spacing, give them a good high potash feed while they are growing always avoid high nitrogen fertilizer, once the flowers have faded bone meal will give them a boost to help see them through the winter.

    Iris Germanica (Bearded Iris) and Iris Siberica are excellent perennial plants perfect for the middle to back of the border where these statement perennial plants can bring pazzaz and a little of the wow factor; Iris are ideal for the cottage to the modern contemporary garden and because they divide so easily are excellent value for money.

    When the Iris have established after 3 to 4 years you can divided the Iris to make new plants this also stops them from becoming woody which results in fewer and fewer flowers, dig the clump up after flowering using a sharp knife to cut away the leaves to a fan shape around 15 cm in length, each piece should have a portion of the rhizomes around 15 cm long, if the rhizome looks withered they are best discarded.

    Their are not too many problems to look out for but keep an eye out for Rhizome rot this usually shows in the late spring, the first signs of rot start at the base of the stem and travel into the rhizome once infected it will become brown and soft with a distinct rotting smell, as soon as you see this cut away any patches back to good clean root and dust with fungicide.

    Grey mould is another problem you should look out for although it is easy to spot it’s a fuzzy off white or greyish brown spore usually in the leaves, it is vital you do not disturb the plant to much and release the spores in to the air to infect other plants a good idea if to use a fleece cover the iris to help prevent the airborne spread. Cut back and burn any infected growth and treat the plant with an appropriate grey mould fungicide, slugs, snails and thrips can also be a problem.

    Once planted all you have to do is sit back and wait for the show.

  • Planting Agapanthus

    9th February 2014
    Agapanthus Black Buddhist Agapanthus Black Buddhist

    Agapanthus (African Lily) are not just good looking flowers they bring a little of the exotic to the garden with their stately elegance, the colour choice is blue or white but there is a good choice of blue from the light blue to dark indigo blue and from pure white to silver white with a hint of blue. Agapanthus are not the hardest plants to grow but they are also not the easiest they will need a little help and encouragement but once established they will reward you from July to late August with an amazing display with their large open flower heads which are excellent for cut flowers.

    Agapanthus grow from rhizomes not bulbs or tubers they produce fleshy roots which like to be constricted, the leaves depending on the variety can have different shapes and colours from light to dark green, grey green and variegated. Like so many garden favourites choose the right variety for your garden, if you’re unsure Agapanthus Africanus Blue or white or Blue Giant are good hardy varieties they are excellent plants to start you off, you can always grown the other varieties in pots and bring them indoors for winter care.

    If planting Agapanthus in pots use a mixture of soil and compost mixed with a little sand and grit to help drainage. Feeding every couple of weeks or at least once a month when you see the green shoots appear with high potash feed Tomato fertilizer is excellent for this; it’s also important to add some general fertilizer as well to make sure the Agapanthus plants receive the best nutrients you can give them.

    If growing in the garden follow the same feeding tips for growing in pots, they are not hungry feeders but will reward you with a fabulous flower display, always leave the leaves to die back naturally and leave until at least March before you remove them, this will give some protection to the crown of the Agapanthus plants, a good mulch is required if you live in very cold areas. You can plant non hardy varieties in pots and sink them just below soil level which will hide the pots then after flowering remove them for winter; I have a few varieties in pots which I move around the garden to highlight different areas and plants. Agapanthus like a well drained soil/compost

    Agapanthus are tolerant of salty winds and so make good coastal plants, hailing from South African they love the sun so plant in a south facing position where they will produce stronger stems and more flowers over the years, they don’t suffer from major pests or disease, the taller varieties will do well in windy conditions. Agapanthus are drought tolerant but they will need some water at least twice a week, it’s important they are planted in a part of the garden that does not hold water as they do not like to sit in water, the best time to plant Agapanthus from bare root is from March to May

    Agapanthus plants can be slow to establish one or two years but when they do you will not be disappointed and the wait will have been worth it.

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