Irises forum: Can I grow Japanese Iris in Utah...I quess we will see

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Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
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Paul2032
Apr 26, 2013 8:51 AM CST
I've grown iris successfully for a number of years, mostly bearded but also some Siberians, Spuria, Louisiana, and Aril-breds....but never Japanese. I had even heard comments from iris friends that they can't be grown here. The main problem is that our soil is alkaline as is our water. Japanese Iris prefer neutral or acid soil. And then on one of my frequent nursery visits I spotted Lion King in bloom and found it so beautiful
Thumb of 2013-04-26/Paul2032/8476b8
I couldn't resist and bought a plant. As I always do I looked at all the plants and found one not yet in bloom but with 4 bloom stalks coming
Thumb of 2013-04-26/Paul2032/7a6f5f
I thought that watching it bloom would be worth the price and if it survived that would be an extra bonus......it came through a very cold winter looking greatThumb of 2013-04-26/Paul2032/e14365
I've added some sulfur to the soil, some organic matter, and water with dilute mir-acid, and hope it blooms. I'm so enthused that I ordered 4 more this year. Can I grow Japanese Iris in Utah...I quess we will see.
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
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irisarian
Apr 26, 2013 9:26 AM CST
Mir-acid should help, but as you water it will diminish.
Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
Grandchildren are my greatest joy.
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Paul2032
Apr 26, 2013 9:33 AM CST
I plan on using it at perhaps 1/4 strength all season. I think I am OCD when it comes to plants.
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
Name: Arlyn
Whiteside County, Illinois (Zone 5a)
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crowrita1
Apr 26, 2013 11:18 AM CST
I'll watch this tread with intrest, Paul, as I would like to try them. I always thought of the JIs as a water garden plant....Arlyn
[Last edited by crowrita1 - Apr 26, 2013 1:42 PM (+)]
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Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
Grandchildren are my greatest joy.
Charter ATP Member Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Annuals Echinacea Vegetable Grower Hybridizer
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Paul2032
Apr 26, 2013 12:13 PM CST
PollyK has a good article on growing Japanese on the Iris Parent page and also a good one on Gardening Ideas. I will keep you informed.
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
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irisarian
Apr 26, 2013 1:18 PM CST
JI don't mind wet 'feet' but grow fine in regular acidy garden soil. they don't like standing in water during the winter.
Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
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eclayne
May 23, 2013 5:14 PM CST

Plants Admin

Good luck Paul. Have you tested the ph of that bed? As I understand it sulfur treatment can take a while to take affect so the Miracid should help a lot. I supplemented with Espoma Holly-tone only because I had it. Given the numbers, 4-3-4, it's probably not very cost effective for hungry JI. Is sphagnum peat readily available to you? That might help as well as an acidic soil amendment.
Evan
Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
Grandchildren are my greatest joy.
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Paul2032
May 23, 2013 7:04 PM CST
I added the sulfur about a month ago and will add some peat. Am watering with dilute miracid. I'll take a picture of the plant tomorrow. It looks happy.
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
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eclayne
May 23, 2013 7:53 PM CST

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Evan
Name: Mary Ann
Kentucky
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Muddymitts
May 23, 2013 8:05 PM CST
It's a beautiful Iris, Paul -- I hope it works!!
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Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
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lovemyhouse
May 23, 2013 8:07 PM CST
Will be watching for updates.
If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.'
Name: Dirt
(Zone 5b)
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dirtdorphins
May 16, 2015 4:00 PM CST
I see no updates...I fear the answer is a resounding ''no, Japanese Iris don't fare very well in our alkaline state"...

I want some, but have been reluctant to try any because I think it would turn out about like the blueberries that I tortured for a while until they died.
If the answer is yes, though, please tell us!
Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
Grandchildren are my greatest joy.
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Paul2032
May 16, 2015 5:15 PM CST
I couldn't grow them. I amended the soil with organics and peat moss. Worked in some ground sulphur which is acidifying. Watered sometimes with Mira-acid. Kept them moist. They are barely hanging on to life and haven't bloomed. In my experience the answer in no.
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
Name: Leslie
Durham, NC (Zone 8a)
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Lestv
May 16, 2015 5:31 PM CST
Add manure, don't over acidify when feeding, keep them moist, give them some shade (all day hot sun is taxing for them), and expect to wait 2 or 3 years before they develop enough to bloom. They don't give instant results like many bearded iris.
And never ever get them close to lime as that will kill them.
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Name: Connie
Willamette Valley OR (Zone 8a)
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pardalinum
May 16, 2015 6:34 PM CST
Paul, don't add any more acidics to your soil around them. In the fall top dress with composted steer manure (I get it in bags at big box store-- I think it has other barn sweepings in it too). Report back next year.

If the rhizomes get too congested, growing on top of each other then that is not a good thing and they decline. I have had this happen many times before I even see a bloom. I pretty much have it figured out now.

Another option is to try a large container and a good potting mix thus avoiding the native soil.
Name: Dirt
(Zone 5b)
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dirtdorphins
May 16, 2015 6:52 PM CST
Thanks Paul
I do understand, and I am sorry.
Lestv said:
And never ever get them close to lime as that will kill them.


So a container then, and bottled water from somewhere else Sighing! Rolling my eyes. Hilarious!
We are pretty darn limey out this way...

from http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/publication/AG-S...

a soil with a pH of 8 is ten times more alkaline than a soil with a pH of 7
SOIL PH IN UTAH
In 1999, 92% of the soil samples submitted to the Analytical Laboratory at Utah State University had pH values above 7. The majority of these samples fell in a pH range between 7.8 and 8.2. The high pH of soils in Utah, as well as other western states, is primarily the result of thousands of years of soil development in a low rainfall environment. This lack of rainfall has allowed large amounts of calcium carbonate (lime) to accumulate in western U.S. soils.
THE EFFECT OF LIME ON SOIL PH
In Utah, soil lime contents range from 0% to more than 50% by weight. Each percent of lime translates into approximately 20 tons of lime per acre-foot of soil. Lime acts as a buffer, maintaining soil pH in the alkaline range. Buffers like lime continue to resist a change to pH even when
acids are added directly to the soil. The buffering capacity of lime in Utah soils was recently demonstrated in a field experiment where sulfuric acid was repeatedly sprayed on the surface of a soil containing 38% lime. Soil pH was measured daily in the surface inch of soil (Figure 2). Each time acid was applied, soil pH dropped but rapidly rebounded due to the buffering capacity of the lime.
Name: Bonnie Sojourner
Harris Brake Lake, Arkansas (Zone 7a)
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grannysgarden
May 17, 2015 5:49 AM CST
Very interesting, Dirt.
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Name: Arlyn
Whiteside County, Illinois (Zone 5a)
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crowrita1
May 17, 2015 7:20 AM CST
I'm curious to see how mine makes out, too. Paul's adventurous spirit inspired me to try a JI. My approach was a "tad' different.....I excavated the soil from an area about 4' X5', to a depth of about 1', lined the hole with a plastic" liner" (actually some heavy gauge plastic tarping), and refilled with my "soil mix" (1/2 peat, 1/4 composted manure. 1/4 topsoil, but in this case, I used "river muck" instead of the topsoil). Our water here, is also quite sweet, at least the "deep well" water, but I always use from our "shallow well" sandpoint for watering plants, and with that area of the garden mulched, fairly well with pine straw, rain, even in dry situations and a full sun situation ,seems to keep my artificial "bog" damp. It's just an experiment, to se if a Ji and a couple La's will make it here, and, so far (the plants were put in last year) the foliage is healthy, and they seem to be growing fast ! The "divisions I got were 'nice sized" (at least I think so!), so, we'll see what happens !
Name: Bonnie Sojourner
Harris Brake Lake, Arkansas (Zone 7a)
Magnolia zone
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grannysgarden
May 17, 2015 8:28 AM CST
I know the LA's will love it. They are southerners and if given half a chance they will adapt. Just remember that when you talk to them try and use some of that southern drawl you must have learned when visiting the south years ago. It will make them sit up and take notice. smiles
I love my garden.... and Jesus, and coffee, and naps.......
Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
Grandchildren are my greatest joy.
Charter ATP Member Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Annuals Echinacea Vegetable Grower Hybridizer
Tomato Heads Garden Photography Birds Cut Flowers Foliage Fan Plays in the sandbox
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Paul2032
May 17, 2015 9:16 AM CST
As I remember I followed our late Friend Polly's advice......
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah

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