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Bicolor Iris Care – Master Gardener Guide

Bicolor Iris Care – Master Gardener Guide

Bicolor Iris, also known as African Iris, Dietes Iris, and Peacock flower, is a sight to behold when placed in a room.

This beauty has delicate swordlike foliage that resembles ornamental grass. It makes the perfect accentuating piece for pool sides, entryways, patios, and balconies.

The Bicolor Iris is a graceful plant that can tolerate a wide variety of conditions. Ideally, it thrives in partial to full sun and moist to wet soils.

Surprisingly, it can even handle standing water for a short period. Moreover, it does not have a particular soil type or pH; however, it relatively enjoys neutral or acidic soils.

Moreover, it grows best with frequent irrigation and occasional trimming. This tough plant is also reasonably tolerant of urban pollution.

According to recent studies, the Bicolor Iris plant hails from the genus Dietes and belongs to the Iridaceae family. Initially, there was confusion over the correct identification of these plants, as they were similar to another plant group known as Moraea.

Later, definitive differences between the two groups were established; the plants with evergreen rhizomes are Dietes, and those with corms are now in the Moraea group.

The Dietes Iris is a wonderful addition to a desert oasis. With its beautiful clumping grass-like texture and long delicate stems holding iris-like flowers, it is sure to improve the look of any place.

The plant has characteristic blooms that catch the eye of all by-passers.

You may wonder why the Bicolor Iris has this particular name. This name comes due to the Iris plant’s tendency to form new blooms every two weeks.

These flowers arise through the spring season and continue through fall. The flowers’ color ranges from lemon to pale yellow, with prominent three dark spots close to the intricate centers.

The Bicolor Iris plant owes its popularity to these flowers that stand above the delicate tips of the Iris plant’s grassy, slender leaves.

 

 

How to care for Bicolor Iris?

Bicolor Iris prefers sunny spots in the garden. Damp mild acidic soil is best. A pH between 6.0 to 7.0 is optimal. The Iris grows best in temperatures above 25 degrees Fahrenheit (-4 degrees Celsius). Fertilize Bicolor Iris plants in spring, approximately 6 to 8 weeks before flowering, and once more right after the blooms fade. It grows to a height of 24 inches (56 centimeters) and spread from 22 to 24 inches (56 to 61 centimeters).

 

Bicolor Iris Care Guide

 

Soil

The Bicolor Iris plant is an excellent choice for gardeners who love adding beautiful plants into their garden that require little to moderate care.

The Iris plant is not too choosy about its soil requirements; it does fairly well in damp to wet mildly acidic soils.

However, like every other plant, its ideal ground preference is rich, organic, and moist soils that receive frequent irrigation and have good drainage.

The soil pH can also vary, if it is neutral to slightly acidic (6.0 to 7.0), you will notice exceptional and relatively faster growth.

If you have planted your Bicolor Iris close to a water body, such as a fountain or pool, it is normal for the soil to remain slightly wet at all times.

You do not need to fret too much as the Iris plant can tolerate these high soil moisture levels considerably well. However, let the plant bask in some sun during the day so that it can get rid of the excess water.

Furthermore, the Bicolor Iris plant can temporarily withstand stagnant water; however, I recommend getting rid of it as soon as you see it and exchange it for fresh-water.

Stagnant water promotes the breeding and growth of bacteria and fungus, which may attack your Bicolor Iris plant.

 

Water

As you may have already figured out, the Bicolor Iris plant enjoys being close to water. Therefore, watering it frequently is ideal.

It can stay in moving and standing water for long periods without letting it affect its health and growth. Since it likes dappled to full sunlight, the Bicolor Iris plant will likely lose water pretty fast.

Therefore, watering it 2 to 3 times a week is a good idea. The water helps the Iris plant keep its foliage and blooms healthy and fresh despite the full sun exposure.

As climates can significantly affect the plant watering routines, I suggest you also keep an eye on your Bicolor Iris plant’s soil. If you notice that it is drying up, add water to it.

On the other hand, if it is reasonably damp or wet, wait till it dries up slightly till you water it again. You can also use a moisture meter to determine the amount of water present in the soil.

It is a handy device easily available at many local stores that allows you to measure your plants’ soil’s moisture content.

Additionally, please keep in mind that though the Bicolor Iris plant loves water, it will catch an infection if overwatered or left I’m stagnant water for too long.

A diseased Iris plant will show various signs, such as brown leaves and stems that will help you determine whether it is under-watered or overwatered.

 

Light

The Bicolor Iris plant has the characteristics of a tropical to subtropical plant. Therefore, it thrives in partial to full sun.

Normally, the sun’s energy helps the plant produce carbohydrates and other essential nutrients that help plants grow and develop new blooms.

The Iris plant is known to give rise to new flowers every two weeks; therefore, the plant is most likely to synthesize and use plenty of energy.

In addition to the nutrient-rich and organic soil, the full sun helps the Bicolor Iris plant lose its old blooms and form new flowers each spring season.

Outdoor settings, such as pool-sides and gardens, offer excellent lighting for the Bicolor Iris plant. The light hitting these areas is often direct and unrestricted.

For those who rather plant their Bicolor Iris plant inside, I suggest placing it next to an open window or on the balcony where the lighting is similar to outdoors.

Alternatively, you can use artificial growing lights. However, please ensure that the variety that you are buying from your local plant shop is compatible with artificial lighting.

 

Temperature

The Bicolor Iris is a perennial plant. It naturally grows in sunny spots with moderate to high moisture. The cities that witness the natural growth of the Bicolor Iris plant include Dallas, Texas, and further south.

The Bicolor Iris plant can tolerate a wide range of temperatures; while it is hardy to 15 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-9.4 to -6.7 degrees Celsius), anything below 25 degrees Fahrenheit (-4 degrees Celsius) may burn its blooms and foliage.

If you live in a mildly cool region, growing a Bicolor Iris may be relatively easy for you.

However, things may get significantly tough for those residing in colder areas once the temperatures fall below 25 degrees Fahrenheit (-3.8 degree Celsius).

Therefore, in colder climates, I recommend bringing the Iris plant inside into comparatively warmer surroundings.

Please avoid placing the Bicolor Iris plant directly in front of fireplaces or heaters, as it may lead to leaf-scorching or sudden shock.

 

Humidity

The Bicolor Iris is a fairly tolerant plant; it can survive in mild to dry moisture levels. The exact preferred humidity levels are unknown.

However, as observed by several Iris plant owners, they generally prefer mild to moderate moisture in their surroundings.

Usually, during cold days, the surroundings become dry and cool. To improve the humidity, you can mist your Bicolor Iris plant’s surroundings, or you can simply place it with other house plants.

If you are opting for the former, I suggest you only moisten the surroundings, and if any water settles on the leaves, you can wipe off the extra moisture with a cloth.

To assess the moisture levels, you can check your Iris plant’s leaves and see if they seem fresh and upright. Alternatively, you can get a moisture meter from your local plant shop and accurately measure the humidity.

 

Fertilizer

For the Bicolor Iris to produce new flowers every two weeks, it needs a steady supply of a balanced and good-quality feed. For the best results, you can buy the fertilizer made especially for Iris plants.

Mainly, there are two types of fertilizers available commercially. The first type is instant release fertilizer, usually in powder or solid form.

It has to be applied twice a week, at least, for the plant to maintain adequate nutrient levels.

In contrast, you can use a slow-release fertilizer, which is mostly available in liquid form. This can be used either once or twice a month, preferably over the moist ground for efficient absorption.

An excellent balanced, high-quality feed is NPK fertilizer, which contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, respectively.

While nitrogen promotes blooming, phosphorus and potassium help develop color and form healthy foliage and stems.

Generally, the iris plants should be fertilized at the start of spring, approximately 6 to 8 weeks before flowering, and once more right after the blooms fade.

Phosphate also plays an active role in plant growth; therefore, I advise you to use super-phosphate or bone meal. However, if your soil already has sufficient phosphate, use only a normal fertilizer.

The feedings routines can also be read off from the fertilizer packaging.

 

Repotting

Limited data is available regarding repotting the Bicolor Iris plant. Mostly, the plant does not take too much space and remains confined to a limited area. Therefore, repotting the Iris plant repeatedly is not required.

However, the weather changes may push you to repot or move your Bicolor Iris plant’s usual growing spot. The key to selecting a new spot is to see where there is most unrestricted sunlight.

I suggest to not repot your Bicolor Iris amid hot and damp days. Along with you, your plant may also suffer when moved during this difficult time.

The best time to repot or divide Bicolor Iris is late July to mid-August when the plant has a moderate growth rate.

 

Pruning

Pruning the Bicolor Iris is a common practice as it produces flowers biweekly.

While most times, the blooms are completely normal and vibrant; other times, they may be slightly discolored or abnormal-looking. In the latter case, it is best that you cut down the brown or diseased flowers.

Along with the flowers, the leaves may also lose their characteristics color due to various reasons. I suggest pruning any yellow or brown leaves that bring down the plant’s overall look.

Bring the cut leaves or vines towards the plant’s base so that new foliage can form at the pruned points.

I also recommend that you make clean and sharp cuts that go straight across the Iris plant’s leaves blades, close to the crown.

If you also want to prevent the Bicolor Iris plant from self-seeding, simply cut right under the seed pod with a pair of pruning scissors.

Moreover, please disinfect your gardening tools with mild alcohol before every use.

 

Bicolor Iris Propagation

To propagate a healthy Bicolor Iris plant, follow these steps:

  • Prepare an appropriate potting mix containing moist and nutrient-rich ground.
  • Collect a pod from a mature Iris plant.
  • Cut this pod open and take some seed from it. One pod should have about 20 seeds. You can share the excess seeds with friends and family.
  • Next, sow the Iris seed in the prepared potting mix while it is fresh.
  • Cover the seed with some more potting ground.
  • Water the seed and place it in dappled sunlight till it matures slightly.
  • Keep the soil moist, but refrain from making it soggy, while the plantlet grows.

The germination process usually takes 2 to 3 months. Once mature, treat it as a normal Bicolor Iris plant.

 

Blooms

The Bicolor Iris plant owes its popularity to its blooms. They form lavishly from late April to mid-June, adding to the plant’s beauty.

The flowers develop colors from a mere cream white to a pale yellow, which produces a striking contrast against the plant’s darkly green-colored foliage and stems.

What enhances the Bicolor Iris plant’s graceful look is the darkly staining, almost black dots present right in each flower’s center.

The plant, with its vibrant blooms, produces a magnificent site.

 

Growth

The Bicolor Iris plant is a perennial and remains green throughout the year. However, it actively produces blooms only through April to June.

When placed under bright sunlight and fed high-quality feed, the Iris plant grows to about a height of 24 inches (56 centimeters) and spread from 22 to 24 inches (56 to 61 centimeters).

When planted in masses or grown as a bedding plant, each Bicolor Iris plant should be spaced to about 14 inches (35.6 centimeters).

The winter-hardy USDA zones for growing the Bicolor Iris plant are 9 to 11, where there is moist and fertile soil. Furthermore, the plant is more likely to receive full sun here.

 

Common Problems for Bicolor Iris

 

Fungal Diseases

The Bicolor Iris plant loves water; therefore, at times, it may fall prey to fungal infections that frequently attack through the water. 

A fungus-infected Bicolor Iris plant will form white, brown, or grey threads or spores at the entry site.

The most common fungal diseases include leaf spotting, rust, and Botrytis blight, more commonly known as gray mold.

The effects depend on the infection’s intensity; mostly, the plant develops irregular spots along with the vines and leaves in yellow, grey, or red shade.

Fungal crown rot or ink spot, also called sclerotium or southern blight, preferentially affect the leaves’ bulbs and the crown. When attacked, the plant’s bulbs rot, and the leaves lose their color.

Other fungal diseases include fusarium basal rot, blue mold attack, and black slime.

Make frequent use of fungicide spray to lower the probability of an attack.

 

Bacterial Infections

Bacteria are quick to enter through tissue openings. One common infection is Bacterial leaf blight which, as the name suggests, affects leaves.

The infected plant forms irregular brown spots, which gradually merge and form cankers.

The plant’s leaves progressively lose color and eventually turn mushy and black. The symptoms may appear at the leaves’ top edges or the bases.

An unpleasant smell is also noticed in some severe cases.

To prevent bacterial attacks, plant good quality- leaves only and carefully clean and prune your delicate Bicolor Iris plant.

 

Rodents

Rodents are not just a problem for humans; they can also feed on plants. The rodents, such as mice and voles, seem to have a liking for Iris rhizomes.

This occurs especially when the weather is cool, and the food supply is scarce.

Moles usually dig deep burrows and leave open tunnels. This frequent digging disrupts or uproots the Iris rhizomes and exposes the plant to more infections.

The exposed roots begin drying up due to constant airflow, and ultimately, the plant’s growth is retarded.

To keep the rodents away, plant the Iris rhizomes right at the Center of a 1/4-inch-wide mesh cage which is buried 6 to 10 inches deep. Alternatively, you can set traps and other baits to eliminate these pests.

 

Tips for growing Bicolor Iris

  • Plant in moist and organic soils only.
  • Water the Iris plant often.
  • Occasionally, cut down the leaves to their base for healthier blooms.
  • Avoid repotting during hot and humid clinkers.
  • Please ensure that the plant’s soil drains well.
  • Use fertilizers high in phosphorous and nitrogen.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Bicolor Iris

 

Should I cut down my Bicolor Iris often?

Do not excessively prune your Bicolor Iris, as it may restrict new growth and expose the plant to various infections. Preferably, cut down some foliage only before the spring season.

 

Does the Bicolor Iris produce flowers all year long?

The Bicolor Iris plant is a perennial; however, it does not flower throughout the year. It produces blooms biweekly from April to June.

 

Is the Bicolor Iris plant poisonous to pets?

Although not fully known, parts of the Bicolor Iris plant are known to be toxic to humans and pets. Therefore, caution should be exercised when handling the plant.

Conclusion

The Bicolor Iris is a graceful plant with beautiful and vibrant flowers. It can be a wonderful addition to your pool sides and balconies.

Accustomed to dapple to full sunlight, frequent watering, and moderate fertilizing, it flourishes during the spring season.

Although pleasant to look at, it is best to admire this beauty from afar as parts of it may be toxic to humans and your furry friends.