Season 2 • Episode 10 - May 19, 2023

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May is a busy month for local blooming plants. The leading plant for most of May is the iris and we are lucky to have the leading iris grower in the country at Schreiner's Iris Gardens (1-800-525-2367). Schreiner's not only grows iris, they also host the public at their huge display gardens every spring, and this year they are really putting on a show! The warmer weather that finally arrived has the blooms going crazy and that has meant a full garden. It's a busy time for the Schreiner family, but irises are in their blood. In fact they have been growing iris as a family for nearly 100 years, growing award winning irises. We met with Ben Schreiner in the display gardens to learn more about the irises and some of the other plants they propagate. We talked about the bearded iris and the various types of iris. The bearded iris have a 'beard' on each of the falls (lower petals) of the blossoms. They also have a huge array of colors to choose from. The non-bearded iris, like the Siberian iris, don't have beards. They have smaller blooms and a more elegant foliage.

Everyone knows about the tall bearded iris. They are the stars of the late spring garden. You may know that Schreiner's is famous for the tall bearded iris that they grow, but they also have a selection of dwarf iris available through their catalog. The dwarf iris are one of the first irises to bloom in the garden. These are followed by intermediate and then by the tall bearded iris that we all know and love. The taller varieties are just starting to bloom as the little ones are finishing up. If you have all three types, you could have blooms for up to two months or more! They all need the same type of growing conditions to thrive in our area. Well drained soil, no over-watering and not planted too deep. If you follow these simple rules they can be one of the most trouble-free plants in the garden. If you currently have iris in your garden the things you should be doing are baiting for slugs and watching for leaf spot, which is the browning of parts of your leaves. Problems can be avoided if you use the right baits and sprays (organic and/or synthetic) at the right time. You don’t need to fertilize now, but you can once the blooming phase of your plants has passed.

The number one tip for iris was about watering. Bearded iris are the perfect plant for areas with water restrictions. Iris are drought tolerant! Once they are established they can survive on very little water. You should also look out for slugs. Bait for them regularly. Fertilizing your plants should be done before they bloom and you should use a light fertilizer.

Iris are also VERY fragrant! The scent in the display gardens is intoxicating. People forget that most iris have a wonderful smell. Each bloom will remind you of candy, sugar, bubble gum or some other great smell. Schreiner’s even has a fragrant collection that you can order for your own garden. The flowers in the garden are also wonderful because they are all labeled and are easy to see even if you have limited mobility. Iris also make great cut flowers and Ben told us how you can make them last longer in your house. He also walked us through some growing tips. In fact, irises are one of the easiest flowers to grow in your garden. They like full sun, have little or no disease and, other than slugs, they have no pest problems. If you want to see the fields or the display garden you have plenty of time to do so. They will be looking good until the middle of June. Stop by and check out all the colors!

A couple of years ago the gardens were closed due to the COVID-19 crisis, but this year they are open once again. However, this year you will be required to have a timed ticket to enter the garden. Once inside there will be lots of blooms and the gift shop will be open, with additional events scheduled for the weekends. To book your time for this annual tradition check out their website. While you are at the garden you can pick up a catalogue to see all of the great iris that they hybridize and grow. They will also have cut flowers for sale too.

These next two weekends are always big ones at the display gardens. This coming weekend is the Memorial Day weekend which has special events scheduled every day. Stop by this weekend and you can see artists displaying in the garden. There are lots of activities happening so you can check their website for details! This isn't the end of the blooms though. The cold weather of the late spring means that things may last longer than you expect. Of course we recommend that you check out their website and social media sites for updated information.

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