Classroom Iris Program

How to Plant an Iris Garden

Early Preparation:

1. Choose a sunny, well-drained site that won't get trampled and is convenient to lawn mowing. (25 ft x 25 ft is plenty big for 4 classes to plant).

2. Gather supplies (for 4 classes):
-- Garden markers (1/2" PVC Hot Temperature pipe cut into 18" sections. Use a hack saw.)
-- Paint brushes and paint (or grease pencils) for labeling garden markers
-- 4 hand trowels
-- 4 shovels
-- 2 steel rakes
-- wheel barrow (or buckets for moving dirt and mulch)
-- top soil
-- mulch
-- milk jugs for watering
-- (optional) gloves
-- bulb fertilizer or alfalfa pellets
-- composted manure for spuria

3. Students choose perennials for garden (drought tolerant, full sun, non-invasive)

4. Mark edges of garden and spray with RoundUp herbicide to kill grass. (Need 10 days for grass to die)

5. Prepare irises:
-- Assign irises to students
-- Paint or label garden markers
-- Keep irises and markers in labeled paper bags
-- Practice planting irises in sand or dirt in the classroom


Day 1 -- Dig garden. Use shovels to turn over sod.
Day 2 -- Spread top soil 4-6 inches deep. Spread mulch 1-2 inches deep (no deeper)
Day 3 -- Plant irises 2 feet apart. Place markers. When planting be sure to pull back mulch, plant rhizomes shallow, and keep mulch off rhizomes. Water irises. Make a map of the garden.
Day 4 -- Add perennial plants to garden

Hints for Classroom Management during Planting
Give everyone a job. Here are some ideas:

-- Everyone shovels. Create shoveling teams. Each person in the team turns over 10 shovels full of dirt. Or each team add 2 wheelbarrowsful of dirt to garden.
-- Shovel Master -- carries shovels out and back to classroom
-- Fertilizer Master -- Adds fertilizer to holes before irises are planted
-- Hand trowel Master -- Carries and collects hand trowels.
-- Map Maker (2 people) -- Grid paper works well
-- Dirt and mulch measurers -- Measure depth as these material are added.
-- Iris Distributor -- hands out bags of irises