Irises forum: Bonemeal use when planting Irises

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Idahofam
Oct 26, 2013 4:30 AM CST
I read in an earlier forum that one person puts a handful of bonemeal in the hole, mixes it in and then places the iris rhizome. My wife thought I was using too much bonemeal. I read other places about the use of bonemeal including the bag. lol According to most places I would be using way too much by putting a handful in the bottom of a hole, mixing in etc.

I am totally NEW to Irises but I really want the beautiful blossoms some day. I don't want to kill these beauties. I'm sure you know what I mean. If anyone has some helpful advice I would appreciate it. I know it's pretty late to be planting but I would rather they were in/on the ground and not sitting in a box or bag in the house.

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.
Name: Mary Ann
Kentucky
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: United States of America Hostas Hummingbirder Daylilies Birds
Irises Keeps Horses Region: Kentucky Farmer Container Gardener Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Muddymitts
Oct 26, 2013 7:10 AM CST
Hi Idaho. Welcome to our group!! Welcome!

You're absolutely right to be getting those babies into the ground -- especially if they're in a somewhat protected area. Irises generally need five to six weeks to develop new roots before the ground freezes -- do you think you have that much time? I'm afraid that allowing them to sit in the house over the winter, they would dry out and be of no use to you at all. An alternative would be to plant them in pots to keep them over the winter. That may be impractical if you have a lot of rhizomes.

Regarding bonemeal -- I've not placed it in the hole, but sprinkled it around the rhizome on top of the ground, and mixing it in a little bit. It did make a difference in the size and health of the rhizomes the following Spring. I did use a handful of bonemeal on top around the rhizome -- I doubt that a handful would be too much to put in the bottom of the hole, especially if the hole was larger than the rhizome. I don't think you need be overly concerned about this -- it isn't an exact science. If you think a full handful is too much, just use a little less. The Iris will appreciate whatever you use!!

Where did you get your rhizomes? Tell us which Irises you got............ nodding
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Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
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Paul2032
Oct 26, 2013 7:54 AM CST
Welcome Idaho.....from what I've read bone meal is very slow acting and takes time to break down and become available to the plant. It is primarily phosphorus and calcium and often soil contains sufficient amounts of these. Working it into the planting hole well would probably make it available more quickly but both methods could work. Visit google and read some of the information there. I sometimes use bulb fertilizers which contain bone meal with success. I visited an Iris garden here in Utah once which was on sandy soil, The owner banded her clumps with super phosphate. Her bloom was amazing with varieties which were normally short growing nice and tall. Now is not the ideal time to plant but the sooner the better, Water in well after planting and place a rock on the rhizome to keep it from frost heaving. We look forward to chatting with you in the future Welcome!
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
[Last edited by Paul2032 - Oct 26, 2013 8:18 AM (+)]
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Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
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tveguy3
Oct 26, 2013 10:03 AM CST
Welcome Idahofam! I ususally mix bone meal into the hole before planting the rhizome. I'm in agreement with Paul, in that it takes a while before the bonemeal breaks down to become available for the plant. I doubt that you can give it too much. It's kind of late I'm guessing to be planting irises. No doubt you won't get much bloom next spring, but there's a good chance they will make it for the following spring bloom. I planted some last year very late, and they mostly lived, but no bloom. Good luck!
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. - Alexander the Great
Name: Arlyn
Whiteside County, Illinois (Zone 5a)
Irises Beekeeper Region: Illinois Celebrating Gardening: 2015
crowrita1
Oct 26, 2013 10:08 AM CST
Welcome! Good advice already given, but ,I would add to check the Bag for the "rating" on the meal you use. Steamed bone meal generally has a 0-6-0 ( no nitrogen, no potash, and 6 parts phosphate), but some brands are different. Miracle Grow brand, while still listed as "bone meal", has a 6-9-0 rating. Any organics you use are not liable to "burn" roots, so in the hole is fine. But it's a good idea, I think, to keep track of how much nitrogen you are applying., as too much isn't good for the iris...Arlyn
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
irises
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irisarian
Oct 26, 2013 1:08 PM CST
You would want to have low nitrogen as it just makes leaves.

Idahofam
Oct 26, 2013 5:30 PM CST
WOW! I am grateful as well as astounded. I wasn't sure if anyone would even answer my questions until next spring. Here I have 5 very kind people offering helpful information. Thank you all so very much.

An update is in order since a few hours have passed since I started this thread. I had purchased a soil test meter that came in the mail today of all things. It's a 4 in 1 tester that tests: moisture, Light, PH, and Fertility. I had no idea there was an instrument that could be used to test fertility until I read about and bought this. Wouldn't you know, I got it on eBay for $11.40 with free shipping. No batteries are required and it seems to work. lol

The sad part is the soil fertility is in the too low range. It's amazing anything has been growing there. While doing my little experiments I added about 1/2 cup of the bone meal I have to 1 quart of the soil mix I was testing to get the meter to read on the very low side of normal. At least I don't have to worry that I over did it.

On another note I thought I was doing a really good thing when I bought this ORGANIC CHOICE BONE MEAL by: Miracle Grow. Oh well, live and learn. It is 6-9-7. Even though I did use this on the rhizomes I got planted last night I don't think there is enough nitrogen in it to damage the rhizomes based on today's testing. I don't know if I should keep using it or wait until I can get a bone meal with zero nitrogen?

This whole situation is posing some challenges I had no way of anticipating. I don't suppose I can just spray the irises with Miracle Grow next year? That will probably just grow leaves. I just want to be able to enjoy beautiful flowers. I looks like this isn't going to be that easy. When I was a youngster there was a HUGE patch of Irises growing across the road from our place. It was growing on an old homestead site where the concrete footings from the original house and the irises were the only thing left. They grew and bloomed every year, year after year with no help from anyone but nature. I used to go pick armful loads of irises for my mother.My guess is that those irises are still there with no help from anyone. Why couldn't this be that easy?

Again, I want to thank each and every one of you for the warm welcome. I hope you're each having a wonderful weekend!
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Irises Vegetable Grower Butterflies Region: Wisconsin Keeps Horses Cat Lover
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tveguy3
Oct 26, 2013 5:56 PM CST
You shouldn't have any trouble at all with that low of nitrogen. One year when I was still in the learning stages, I used some high nitrogen lawn fertilizer on my irises. Boy did I ever grow some beautiful leaves. Rolling on the floor laughing I think it took two year for them to start blooming again.
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. - Alexander the Great
Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
Grandchildren are my greatest joy.
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Paul2032
Oct 26, 2013 5:59 PM CST
6-9-7 is not a problem. I would use it without concern except I would avoid direct contact with the rhizome. Avoid things like 21-0-0. Organic matter will improve your soil but I would dare bet it is better than your soil tester indicated. I'll bet that there are county agents in Idaho who will help you get a soil test at one of the universities which would give you more accurate results and let you know if you need to add something. Addition of fertilizer in the early spring is more effective than in the fall. I know there are a number of iris growers in Idaho who would be happy to give you advice for your area. Where in Idaho are you and I might be able to suggest someone.
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
Name: Mary Ann
Kentucky
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: United States of America Hostas Hummingbirder Daylilies Birds
Irises Keeps Horses Region: Kentucky Farmer Container Gardener Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Muddymitts
Oct 26, 2013 6:08 PM CST
The Irises growing at the old homestead were likely the old historic variety that were practically bullet-proof -- hardy, prolific, requiring little to thrive. Today's hybrids are exotically beautiful, but somewhat more tempermental -- being a little bit more picky about their environment. Some will settle in and bloom for you with little attention. Others will flatly refuse to survive at all. It's just part of learning about Irises and Irises at your home -- and that's all part of the fun.

So just settle in -- get your babies planted -- and spend the winter waiting for Spring's rewards. Just like the rest of us!! Thumbs up
Thoughts become things -- choose the good ones. ([url=www.tut.com]www.tut.com[/url])
Name: Arlyn
Whiteside County, Illinois (Zone 5a)
Irises Beekeeper Region: Illinois Celebrating Gardening: 2015
crowrita1
Oct 26, 2013 6:23 PM CST
Idahofam, check that label again. It's kind of tricky! The analysis is 6-9-0 ( which means that in 100 pounds of the product, there are 6 lbs. of nitrogen, 9 lbs. of phosphate, o lbs. of potash) the "7" you see ,is 7% calcium. And for bearded iris, that's a good thing, as calcium helps to raise the "ph" of the soil. That "6" of nitrogen is just about right for the iris, and in this product ,the "N" is "slow release",which is a good thing. But as Paul, and Tom said, DON'T go "overboard with the nitrogen. For example.. you add the MG bone meal, then add some , say, 5-10-10 fertilizer. This would be the same as adding 5.5-9.5-5 fertilizer. So you need to be aware of the 'total", of the amendments that you add., and , by the way, in my opinion anyway, that would be a real good "iris "mix!...Arlyn
[Last edited by crowrita1 - Oct 26, 2013 6:36 PM (+)]
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Idahofam
Oct 27, 2013 2:56 AM CST
Hello Image Paul2032,

In answer to your question about our location, we live near Sandpoint, Idaho. We're about 60 miles South of the US/Canada border. We live about a mile East of the US Hwy 95 and Hwy 200 intersection to be more precise.

The ground is almost solid clay. Every time I plant something I have to either dig a hole and add soil enhancement or just rototiller a bunch of soil enhancement (bags of garden soil) into the ground if I want to make some kind of planting bed. The place I'm planting the irises is a small bed about 5 feet by 6 feet. Last year I tilled 3 bags 2.5 cu. ft. each of the Miracle Grow brand into the soil. This last spring I planted tomatoes there. Tomatoes did pretty well. Of course they seem to grow anywhere.

Before planting the irises I added 2 more 3 cu. ft. bags of some other brand I got from Home Depot. I like going to Home Depot rather than WalMart which is across the street from them because Home Depot employees always seem to treat me with more courtesy. In addition Home Depot gives all veterans a 10% discount. Since I'm a disabled Veteran on 100% disability (believe me when I tell you this gardening thing is a challenge) I not only get their generous discount but the help is always happy to give me a hand loading etc. WalMart on the other hand has and shows no appreciation in the way of a discount or a hand. I know on a few things their price is lower but with the 10% veteran's discount it usually comes out about the same but with better service in my opinion. In addition I have never had a Home Depot cashier ask me to donate to a cause for which the store takes full credit for the donation as if they did this wonderful community service. I guess I'm one of the few people who realize that those big "local community donations" that WalMart puts on their bulletin board and takes credit for are strictly donations collected from customers at the checkout stand. You can confirm it yourself if you go to WalMart and a cashier asks if you would like to donate. I did and the cashier confirmed. The donations WalMart takes credit for as donations are monies collected by the cashiers from customers. The store doesn't put in a dime as I was told. Even if they did they need to give credit to their customers and not take all of the credit for their public image campaign. I'm sorry I got off on this tangent. I must have felt the need to rant. Please forgive me.

Anyway, if you know anyone who has served in the US armed forces who shops at Home Depot they may not know that they can get a 10% discount on everything they buy there. Give them a heads up. They will be glad you did.

Again I want to thank everyone for your help and input. I want to let everyone know up front that because of my disabilities I may not be very quick about getting back to this message board. I have constant or near constant fatigue. I don't get many waking hours in a day. I just want to make sure everyone knows I really appreciate your help and I'm not trying to be selfish or stuck up. You have all been very kind, helpful and friendly. Thank you very much.

Sincerely,
David
Name: Mary Ann
Kentucky
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: United States of America Hostas Hummingbirder Daylilies Birds
Irises Keeps Horses Region: Kentucky Farmer Container Gardener Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Muddymitts
Oct 27, 2013 7:13 AM CST
Well who knew about the Walmart donations thing!! Thanks for the heads-up, David!!
Thoughts become things -- choose the good ones. ([url=www.tut.com]www.tut.com[/url])
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
Oct 27, 2013 7:38 AM CST
David.....thank you for the service to our country. I tip my hat to you. It sounds like you share a real passion for gardening with several of us. When I buy soil amendments I also choose Home Depot. I have clay and rocks and always need to use a pick to dig a hole. I add course organic matter to my soil and iris grow well here. That is a continuing chore as the soil 'digests' the compost. What zone are you in? If you can grow tomatoes iris should thrive. The areas where I used to plant tomatoes are full of iris now so I planted tomatoes this year at my sons. He lives across the street. I had my last tomato for the year on a sandwich yesterday and will miss them. Fall clean-up is now my gardening activity and that oh so long winter. Each day iris bloom season is a little closer.


Thumb of 2013-10-27/Paul2032/f4b8d3 Hollywood Star....one of my favorites.

Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
Name: Mary Ann
Kentucky
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: United States of America Hostas Hummingbirder Daylilies Birds
Irises Keeps Horses Region: Kentucky Farmer Container Gardener Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
Muddymitts
Oct 27, 2013 8:12 AM CST
Oh Paul -- every time I *get over* Hollywood Star -- you post your picture, and I'm toast again. Why-oh-why didn't I get this one, this year????? Crying
Thoughts become things -- choose the good ones. ([url=www.tut.com]www.tut.com[/url])
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
Image
Paul2032
Oct 27, 2013 8:37 AM CST
There is always next year......





Thumb of 2013-10-27/Paul2032/821c1d

Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
Name: Mary Ann
Kentucky
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: United States of America Hostas Hummingbirder Daylilies Birds
Irises Keeps Horses Region: Kentucky Farmer Container Gardener Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
Muddymitts
Oct 27, 2013 10:27 AM CST
Oh you rascal, you!!!! Hilarious!
Thoughts become things -- choose the good ones. ([url=www.tut.com]www.tut.com[/url])
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
irises
Charter ATP Member Cottage Gardener Enjoys or suffers cold winters Region: United Kingdom Region: Northeast US Irises
Region: United States of America
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irisarian
Oct 27, 2013 10:53 AM CST
Thanks Dave. In Idaho do you try some of the dwarf & intermediate irises as well as tall bearded? They extend your season & the Colemans (C iris on pond) in Boise grow quite a few of them.

Idahofam
Oct 28, 2013 3:10 PM CST
I would like to answer a couple of questions. Most people are very surprised to learn that we are in zone 6 since we are so far north. We're only at about 2,200 feet in elevation and we enjoy a Southwest prevailing wind. With the Southwest prevailing wind we get warm air from the Pacific Ocean that eases through our area most of the year in the form of low pressure fronts. Unfortunately we sometimes get high pressure that dips down from the North and at the same time we are blessed because for some reason we only get the edge of those cold fronts that stay to the Eastern side of the continental Divide. It's usually anywhere from 10 to 30 degrees colder on the other side of the Rockies than it is here in Northern Idaho. This zone 6 goes all the way up into Canada a few miles as the warm air travels up our valley floor to the North.

I have learned a great deal about how elevation can and does affect temperatures. From what I understand, for every 1,000 feet in elevation you are above sea level it is like being 300 miles further North than your actual geographical location. I believe it too. We used to have a home about 18 miles out of town that was right at the foot of the Cabinet Mountain range. That was before I got really ill. Our elevation was 2,850 feet above sea level. It was uncanny driving back and forth from home to town. In the spring the snow was gone here in town at 2,200 feet in elevation and the spring flowers were already blooming while we had a foot of snow on the ground at our home. Yikes! Winter came earlier and spring came later every year. Ingrid, my wife, would grow flowers only to have the deer come along and nibble the blossoms off of as soon as they showed their beauty. I had to get creative with fencing. lol

Anyway, we're in zone 6 and we have a mild four seasons in one of the most gorgeous places in the world to live. Unfortunately my health issues are making it more and more difficult to deal with winter weather even though it's nothing like the weather is no where near as severe as it was in Wisconsin where I grew up. No thank you!

I do plan to try some dwarf irises and intermediate sizes too. I have to say that Hollywood Star that Paul has showed off with is very appealing. I have this inner desire to take pollen from a very black bearded iris and pollinate something like that and visa-verse to see what comes from the seeds. That's a pretty lofty and lengthy goal for a person in my condition but I have to have something to keep my mind occupied and hope for the future. Otherwise my day to day dealing with constant pain and fatigue isn't very encouraging so to speak. That's putting it mildly.

Speaking of which, while I am awake I better get more done outside or it won't get done. I have got to have some pretty flowers this coming spring. :-D

Thank you all again. I appreciate your help and input. Have a wonderful day.

Sincerely,
David
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
irises
Charter ATP Member Cottage Gardener Enjoys or suffers cold winters Region: United Kingdom Region: Northeast US Irises
Region: United States of America
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irisarian
Oct 28, 2013 8:27 PM CST
David--where is your home in Wisconsin? I grew up in Whitefish Bay north of Milwaukee. We are close to the ocean here so warmer than inland where we grew up.

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