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Growing Japanese Iris

Making It Grow! Minute logo

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson extension and Making It Grow. In downtown Sumter, where I spend my days as a horticulture agent, we have free, city-owned jewel of a garden that started as a horticulture failure. In the 1920’s, a local businessman, Hamilton Carr Bland planted a shipment of Japanese iris in his normal flower bed. When they failed miserably, he yanked them up and tossed them into his nearby fishing pond. Lo and behold, the following spring, he was struck speechless by a display of ethereal, gently waving blossoms flourishing on the edge of that modest body of water. Unlike their German relatives, the Japanese iris, Iris ensata, requires an acidic, organic soil and flourishes in shallow water. They can however, be grown in a home garden if placed with other moisture-loving plants and given extra irrigation and frequent   top dressings of compost. 

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.