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The Iris: a Spring Favorite

Making It Grow! Minute logo

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Exotic iris are  stars in many spring gardens with bearded iris being the most popular -- with those fancy modified sepals called falls festooned with fuzzy structures looking for all the world like caterpillars. They’re spectacularly easy to grow – if you know one trick – don’t plant the rhizome deeply – half of it should be above ground. A rhizome is a specialized stem that grows horizontally and serves as a storage organ to help plants survive difficult times. When bearded iris are planted in full sun, in  good garden soil with adequate irrigation,  they actually grow so vigorously that if you don’t thin them out every few years, they get too crowded and stop blooming. And to make them even easier to grow, they do better with less rather than more fertilizer. No wonder they’re so popular! 

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.