Irises forum: anyone know how to get very old irises to bloom better?

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daylilylady12
Oct 14, 2012 4:15 PM CST
Does anyone know how to get ver old irises to bloom better? I have irises that have been in my family for four generations. However, only a few bloom. They are not planted very deep. In fact, the top of the rhysome shows when you look at the iris. I have tried dividing them as well, but that does not cause them to bloom any better. Any help would be appreciated.

Lisa
[Last edited by daylilylady12 - Oct 14, 2012 4:17 PM (+)]
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Name: Arlyn
Whiteside County, Illinois (Zone 5a)
Irises Beekeeper Region: Illinois Celebrating Gardening: 2015
crowrita1
Oct 14, 2012 4:57 PM CST
Well, it sounds as if the depth is right. How much sun do they get? Should be at least 6 hours for max. bloom, any less seems to cut down on bloom and make the plants a little "leggy".Do you fertilize? A small handful( 2tbls., or so) of 5-10-10, or similar(10-10-10- is ok) spread close to, but not on, the rhisomes, and a 1/4 cup of steamed bonemeal spread around the clump should be good.How's your soil ph? A soil test kit is cheap($15 bucks or so) Iris like a fairly "neutral" soil, but can stand it if it's just a little "off".A handful of garden lime around each clump probably won't hurt, till you get a test kit and can check for sure.Do this in early spring, before new growth starts, and again after they are done flowering. Do you know the variety of iris? Some of the older cultivars are a little "bloom shy", while others bloom their heads off...Hope this helps! ..Arlyn

Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
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irisarian
Oct 14, 2012 10:19 PM CST
good advice.

daylilylady12
Oct 15, 2012 3:16 PM CST
Thank you for your help. I use Osmocote every other year. One of the varieties is Indian Chief. I do not know the names of the others. Indian Chief, a yellow, purple and pink variety are the only ones that have bloomed. I have hundreds of them and would love to see others bloom to see if their colors are as pretty. I have them planted under a 100 year old sweetgum tree in a pasture. I have loads of earthworms and leaf litter in the soil they are in.

How long do you steam bonemeal? I have some old in the freezer that I need to do something with. I will try to find some pics on my computer and post them later.

Thanks,
Lisa
Name: Arlyn
Whiteside County, Illinois (Zone 5a)
Irises Beekeeper Region: Illinois Celebrating Gardening: 2015
crowrita1
Oct 15, 2012 3:27 PM CST
Gee, I don't know!? Confused I buy it in the garden section marked"steamed bonemeal" I assume that they mean it is "cooked",and not "raw". Raw would smell/spoil pretty quick, I would think. All it does for the plant is provide a slow release source of phosphate, which helps in root growth and flower formation. I would fertilize twice a year, as I stated above. it's possible that competition from the tree roots is stealing the nutrients / moisture....Arlyn
Name: Kent Pfeiffer
Southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
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KentPfeiffer
Oct 15, 2012 3:40 PM CST

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Irises generally don't bloom well when growing under trees, so that might be the problem right there.
Name: Polly Kinsman
Hannibal, NY (Zone 6a)

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PollyK
Oct 16, 2012 6:35 PM CST
Lisa, I think Kent might well be right, and certainly good advice from Arlyn. A picture will help a lot. If you have 100s of them and they don't bloom, obviously some problem there.

Silly question, but are they all bearded iris?

daylilylady12
Oct 21, 2012 6:05 PM CST
Thank you all of you for your input. I have uploaded some images of the irises that have bloomed in the past. If you can recognize any of them, please let me know. As far as I know they are all bearded irises.
Thumb of 2012-10-22/daylilylady12/fc3794 Thumb of 2012-10-22/daylilylady12/b4a5ed Thumb of 2012-10-22/daylilylady12/5d4f34 Thumb of 2012-10-22/daylilylady12/c64beb Thumb of 2012-10-22/daylilylady12/70ab82
[Last edited by daylilylady12 - Oct 21, 2012 6:50 PM (+)]
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Name: Polly Kinsman
Hannibal, NY (Zone 6a)

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PollyK
Oct 21, 2012 7:05 PM CST
I was just talking about Indian Chief, and the last one does look like it. Remember, please, these are just suggestions. So many irises look alike, that we can't identify them by pictures alone. But this will give you a starting point.
Name: Mary Ann
Kentucky
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Muddymitts
Oct 21, 2012 7:44 PM CST
I think I also have the Iris in your second picture. I saw it growing near an old gas station in town -- so I stopped in there, and asked the guy if he'd like to trade some Irises. I told him if he'd let me dig up some of the lavender one, I'd bring him some of my dark purples and I'd plant them for him. He said sure.

So if anyone can identify the Iris in the second photograph above, you'd be doing both of us a favor!! nodding
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Name: Arlyn
Whiteside County, Illinois (Zone 5a)
Irises Beekeeper Region: Illinois Celebrating Gardening: 2015
crowrita1
Oct 22, 2012 6:57 AM CST
Just Guessing, Now! A positive I.D. is a Long way off! But...1st yellow, I think is Goldbeater, blue might be Califonia Blue, and I think Polly's got the last pegged right as Indian Chief. That lovely in the top row , middle. Lovey dubby ...not even a guess yet,,,but I want some Rolling my eyes. !!! 2nd yellow I,m still thinking on! ...Arlyn
Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
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Paul2032
Oct 22, 2012 8:12 AM CST
If you haven't done so read the link "How do your iris look in the Fall?" You may get some ideas there.
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah

daylilylady12
Oct 22, 2012 9:03 AM CST
Thanks, this is fun. Paul, where do I find the link, "How do your iris look in the Fall?" I am new to this webpage, but love it. I met Dave Whitinger in Tyler, Texas a couple of weeks ago and he said to post my query here.

Ya'll are great!

Lisa
Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
Grandchildren are my greatest joy.
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Paul2032
Oct 22, 2012 9:45 AM CST
Go to the irises forum and you will find the link. I might mention that several hours of good sun are also necessary. Also when you replant use the largest healthiest rhizomes from the outer part of the clump and plant in nicely amended soil. We love questions because they stimulate discussion.
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
Name: Dee Stewart
Willamette Valley OR
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irisloverdee
Oct 22, 2012 11:41 AM CST

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As stated iris do not like to be under or around tree's. Next year, try some open land where they get alot of sun and give them space and see what happens.

D
Denise Stewart
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Name: Arlyn
Whiteside County, Illinois (Zone 5a)
Irises Beekeeper Region: Illinois Celebrating Gardening: 2015
crowrita1
Oct 23, 2012 6:03 PM CST
That lavender,top,center, MAY be Quaker Lady.?.?. Confused Confused ..Arlyn
Name: Arlyn
Whiteside County, Illinois (Zone 5a)
Irises Beekeeper Region: Illinois Celebrating Gardening: 2015
crowrita1
Oct 23, 2012 6:27 PM CST
Lisa, do you know if the leaf bases( right where the leaf comes out of the rhisome) are tinged with purple? That (called PBF, for purple based foliage) is a real help in ID. It would be good if you check that out. Also some iris "show PBF" early, before bloom, some late season, and some all season. Making notes of this will really help in IDing your iris next year.....Arlyn
Name: Brett Barney
(Zone 5b)
Irises Region: Nebraska
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brettbarney73
Oct 24, 2012 10:00 AM CST
Lisa,

I agree that that second iris is a looker. I have a thing for smoky purply irises especially and have just added Quaker Lady and President Pilkington this year so that I can try to ID one of the plants I've had for a long time. Some of the pictures of Quaker Lady do look a lot like yours. Amitola is another possibility that came to mind. Also, if you haven't already discovered it, I'd recommend visiting the Historic Iris Preservation Society Page (http://www.hips-roots.com/). They have lots of resources for identifying historic irises. BTW, much of the online material is accessible to anyone, but membership is also definitely worth the low cost ($10/year)--it gets you a couple issues of their magazine, the chance to buy irises at the annual sale, and access to the online forums ("Communication Center"), frequented by people with particular knowledge about historics.

Brett
--------------
Brett Barney
Rural SE Nebraska
Name: Arlyn
Whiteside County, Illinois (Zone 5a)
Irises Beekeeper Region: Illinois Celebrating Gardening: 2015
crowrita1
Oct 24, 2012 11:15 AM CST
I agree ..Arlyn

NancyJ
Nov 14, 2012 9:13 PM CST
Dividing them usually works for me. When they get overcrowded they tend to not bloom as well.

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