Bearded Iris & Mulch
Sun, 25 Nov 2012 12:28:37 PST
I do mulch my bearded iris.  I use a ground pine bark mulch, applied  at a 
depth of about two inches in the spring, which disappears (breaks down  & 
blows away) by fall to a thin layer; by the following spring there is bare  
My bearded iris are grown at my property south of where I live.  They  are 
on a slight slope, in very thin soil, in the open.  The bed is  surrounded 
by the native stones that came out of the bed.  Without mulch,  the soil 
would be very dry and would blow away; the surface become very dust  like.  
They never receive supplemental irrigation outside of rain, except for new  
individual plants at installation time.
Have you ever noticed at the garden centers in the spring, there are many  
bearded iris available for sale in full bloom?  And then suddenly they just  
"disappear?"  Look behind the store...they've all rotted being too  deep 
and too wet in "potting mix" and with poor garden center  culture.
In-ground, especially in my situation, they do just fine with mulch.   But 
I do not have experience with leaves as mulch.
Also, deer do eat bearded iris.  All winter they eat the foliage to  mere 
nubs (normally our winters are mild enough to keep the bearded iris  
evergreen or at least partly so).  They continue eating them until a more  preferred 
food greens-up in the spring.  However, they continue to eat the  flower 
stalks as they emerge.  Once the flowers are open, the deer seem to  leave the 
bearded iris alone, even the ones with fragrant flowers (unlike  hyacinths 
which they leave alone until the flowers open, I think it's the  fragrance 
the deer can't resist).  The deer do sample the bearded iris  flowers, like 
they do daffodil flowers, but never really eat them.  For  both bearded iris 
and daffodils, if I look long enough I can find the chewed  flowers the deer 
spit out.
--Jerry Lehmann
Olathe, KS, zone 5, but enjoying an unseasonable warm November afternoon  
out yardening

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