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Iris Refuses To Bloom – A Deep Resentment.

Ask the Expert: Why wont my Iris bloom?

My Iris’ get great green leaves but I fail to get a bud, which in turn I don’t get a bloom?

Mary Ann


  1. Mary Ann,

    There are many reasons iris won’t bloom. There are also many types of iris. Since you didn’t mention which type of iris you have, I am going address this question as a bearded iris issue.
    The two most common reasons that bearded iris won’t bloom are: buried too deep and not enough light. The iris rhizome should not be covered with soil and should not have much mulch, if any, on top of it. When the rhizome is covered it will produce lush green foliage and no blooms. Bearded iris need a minimum of six hours of direct sun a day to bloom well. Start with these two reasons and see if either one is the reason your iris won’t bloom.

    Other factors including improper watering, insufficient phosphorus and too much nitrogen, overcrowding and late freezes can also inhibit blooming. Check your conditions and see if you can determine the cause. Please let me know if you need more information.

  2. If I re-plant my iris, since I believe some of mine are also buried too deeply… does that mean they won’t bloom next year? I’ve always heard that Iris won’t bloom the year after you plant them (or move them…)

    Thanks for any info…it’s quite frustrating as I’ve “rescued” Iris from old homesteads and also bought very expensive rizomes from Iris Farms and still don’t see too many blooms each season…

  3. Toni,

    I have heard the same thing. However, it has never been a problem for me or for my mother. Who by the way moved her iris at a very inappropriate time. If your iris are buried too deep they are probably;y not going to bloom any way so what have you got to lose. I would also recommend fertilizing your iris. When planting bearded iris top dress with a low nitrogen fertilizer and in the spring each year top dress with a low nitrogen fertilizer.

  4. graceann goffredo says:

    I planted German iris bulbs this spring the folage is beautiful green and healthy, I also bought bone meal to help fertilize them and still no blooms..they were suppose to continue to bloom all summer. Tried everything can you help.

  5. When you planted them did you cover the rhizome with soil? If so they are planted too deep and will need to be raised. Are they getting enough sunlight. They need at least 6 hours a day.

    Sometimes Iris have a blooming issue the year they are planted which keeps them from blooming. In cases such as this there really isn’t anything you can do. However, I would make sure that they have all the right conditions to bloom next year. Give them a bulb fertilizer in early spring (a 7-8-5 formula or similar) and then again at the beginning of summer. Make sure the rhizome isn’t too deep and you get adequate sun. You might also try a small amount of super phosphate on them in late winter.

  6. Mary Jo says:

    I transplanted iris 4 or 5 years ago they have done great, until this spring. No blooms, not a single shoot. I\’m not sure what has happened.

  7. Mary Jo,

    If you use mulch in your iris bed, you may need to lift them up. the mulch can act like soil and make the iris think they are buried too deep.

  8. My Iris develop buds or what look like buds but there is nothing in them so they don’t bloom. What is the cause?

  9. Mary,
    What kind of Iris do you have? It could be that your irises may need to be divided. If irises are left undivided, flowering decreases, and the rhizomes become subject to pests and damage.

  10. judith greenleaf says:

    My bearded Irises have the same problem–no bloom. Most are over 5 years old. A very few bloomed last year(out of many) I have followed all the directions above for years and no help. Only thing I havent done is use the superphosphate. Should I throw them all out, or is there a chance that the superphoshate will make a difference? If so, what dose?

  11. Judith,
    Lack of blooming in bearded iris is often a result of the iris rhizomes being planted too deep. As the year goes by, soil, mulch and other debris accumulate on top of the rhizomes. You need to dig the iris up and re-plant them so that the top of the rhizome doe not have any soil on top of it. This would also be the time to thin out the bed. Too many rhizomes plant too close together can also inhibit blooming. Try replanting them and if the blooms are still lacking add phosphate and make sure the iris are getting minimum of 6 hours sun a day.

  12. Good Evening,

    I live in a tropical area where the average temperature is 30 degrees Celsius. I planted some German irises and they growing beautifully. Some of them are blooming nicely. I would like to know if it is true that I have to refrigerate those irises for a certain period for them to bloom again?

    Thanks in advance for your answer.


  13. Faya,
    It’s not necessary unless you really want them to bloom at a specific time.

  14. Thanks a lot for the info. I appreciate it.

  15. Marcia Smith says:

    I’ve been disappointed in my iris for about 3 years. They used to bloom prolifically, especially 4 years ago, which was the first time I composted them. I just learned nitrogen fertilizer will keep them from blooming. No problem. I don’t fertilize them. But –I’ve just learned–my husband started putting bone meal on them, yep, 3 years ago. He also started putting a nitrogen booster in the compost pile. Are my iris dying or just damaged? Can I save them by watering or mulching with a light wood, as one site suggested? I’m sick with grief (no I’ve haven’t killed my husband — yet!)

  16. MaRica
    Sounds more like the iris are planted to deep. Iris rhizomes like to be very close to the top if the soil. Too much c9mpost or mulch on top of an iris will keep the iris from blooming. Reset the iris by digging them up and replanting them with only a small amount of soil on top. Hopefully your husband can help you.

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