Irises grow foliage, never flower

esther_bApril 7, 2013

For the 3rd or 4th year in a row, I see definite iris foliage growing nicely in my garden. This year, I can see those ol' rhizomes have been very busy underground, as there are now 3 separate groups of iris spears coming up. Yet, these iris have never flowered. I add Plant-tone to my garden and water regularly, but I have never been treated to a beautiful flower. Or any flower at all. What gives?

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aquawise(zone 4 Utah)

How much sun are they getting? Do you fertilize with nitrogen high mix ? Iris need full sun and low nitrogen ! Just a few thoughts. I had some that had not bloomed for years after moving them all out back into full sun they have flowered like crazy. Each spring I give the a food feed of a mix of Azomite, Bone meal and Iron sulfate. They give me a fantastic show.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 8:06PM
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esther_b

I think they are getting pretty much sun. Certainly all the morning sun. As I said, I put Plant-tone on my flower beds, and some Osmocote as well. I guess that 's not enough?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 10:16PM
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random_harvest(z8 TX DFW)

If they're not shaded out, then I would skip adding fertilizer for a couple of years to see what happens. Of course, all soils are different, but my irises get nothing but a handful of alfalfa pellets once a year.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 11:20AM
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iris_gal(z9 CA)

Plant tone is listed as 5-3-3 which means it is high in nitrogen (the 1st number). No wonder you're getting lush growth at the expense of flowers.

Best to use a bulb food or one with the first number lower than the other two. Like 6-10-8.

Beardeds like to dry out between waterings. They need 6 hours of sun.

And lastly, some cultivars do take 3 years to come into bloom.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 8:25PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

More sun, less fertilizer, would be my guess.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 9:54PM
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aggiegrad(5)

are the tops of the rhizomes above ground? the roots go under ground but the tops stay above ground. if not, then they won't flower at all. sometimes they pull themselves underground, at least mine have, but they still need to be above. so, if you have to pull the dirt off the tops, or they won't flower. also, it takes a couple of years after you plant them to see flowers, so, if it's been 3 or 4 years you should be able to see some flowers this year if everything is right with them.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 11:10PM
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esther_b

I don't see any rhizomes, but there is some leaf litter and mulch on top of the soil. The leaves are at least 6' long now and look very robust.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 11:51PM
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chadinlg

I don't think fertilizer type or the lack of it is at the root of your problem, more likely not enough sun.

If you think your Iris are "happy", you can tell by the number of leaves each 'fan' forms in a season. If there are only 3-4 leaves green at the same time this would indicate the rhizomes are not becoming mature during the growing season. A healthy growing rhizome should make about 7 leaves at a time before blooming.

Morning Sun alone is not enough for Bearded Iris.
In my experience, TB will not bloom if:
- extremely overcrowded (rhizomes on top of each other)
- partly shaded (less than 6 hours full sun per day)
- Competing closely with other plants (shade and/or root competion)

Chad

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 3:52PM
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esther_b

I bought 20 bags (30# each) of new garden topsoil with compost to bring my gardens' soil levels back up to where they belong. I also tapped my plastic resin fences back perfectly upright from being slumped over and forced soil into the concavity of my faux stone wall to shore it up. I also drove 8" plastic stakes into the ground and fastened the 6" white plastic Adirondack fencing around my hosta garden to the stakes with velcro strapping. I had to remove the already-renewing dianthus and irises from the front garden when I added the replacer soil. I figured, based on the kind comments here, that the irises should be moved, while I'm at it, to a sunnier location. I moved them to the FRONT of my garden, where I believe there is more sun. Now, let's wait and see what happens. They do only have about 3-4 leaves per rhizome, so maybe Chad is right. I think so.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 8:16PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Good luck, Esther! It sounds like you did a lot of work. Your garden must look great now.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 10:54PM
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