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Caring for Iris

Making It Grow! Minute logo

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. The most commonly grown iris is the bearded iris, sometimes called the German iris as the scientific name is Iris germanica. Some people throw in the adjective tall, too, as these can be up to 48 inches in height. In the warmer winters we are experiencing, the foliage lasts and lasts and the huge fans of strong, light green leaves can make a dramatic statement in the garden even after the flowers are long gone. Those large blade-like leaves keep photosynthesizing and strengthening the plant  – don’t cut them back.  The do need good drainage, however, And although we Clemson agents emphasize mulching to the point that some people fear we might cover them with pine straw if they stand still in the garden too long, iris should not have mulch placed over their partially exposed rhizomes – too much moisture leads to rot.  

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.