Irises forum: Saving iris over winter?

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Name: Joe
Germantown, Tennessee (Zone 7b)
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exfed
Oct 24, 2014 12:27 PM CST
My iris bed is at a decade old and needs to be refurbished. I was traveling and did not get to it sooner. I would like to dig up the iris and store them out of the ground over winter, giving me all winter to amend and till the bed. Any suggestions on how to store them over the next 5 months or so to be planted in early spring? I am in zone 7 and have a garage storage room that stays about 45-50 degrees. Thanks.
Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
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lovemyhouse
Oct 24, 2014 1:10 PM CST
Welcome, exfed. Smiling

Not sure how closely the Iris folk follow the general Ask a Question forum. Going to post some member IDs who have a lot of experience growing Iris, so maybe they can chime in with opinions.

@tveguy3
@Paul2032
@crowrita1
@KentPfeiffer
If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.'
Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
Service dogs: Angels with paws.
Dragonflies Dog Lover I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Photography Bee Lover Plays in the sandbox
Butterflies Region: Texas I sent a postcard to Randy! Charter ATP Member Annuals Garden Sages
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lovemyhouse
Oct 24, 2014 1:11 PM CST
Forgot to say that, while I grow Iris, I am only this year actually learning anything about them, so I will be interested in the answer, too. Big Grin
If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.'
Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
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Paul2032
Oct 24, 2014 1:27 PM CST
I haven't done this but I would think that you could dig them, knock off the soil, trim foliage back to several inches, and spread them out on a tarp in you storage area. When your spring weather arrives break off some of the nice big rhizomes on the edges of the clumps and plant them. They will probably take another year to bloom but amending the bed will reward you. We all see dry brown starts in bags at the big box stores in the spring and with patience they will grow. I have had rhizomes survive laying on the surface over winter here in zone 5. Welcome to the iris forum. We will look forward your participation. Good luck I tip my hat to you.
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
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tveguy3
Oct 24, 2014 2:34 PM CST
Welcome! exfed I haven't done this on purpose, but I did have some left over rhizomes in a bag in the basement over winter. In the spring they still had a bit of green to them, and I'm sure they would have survived had I planted them. I doubt if they would have bloomed for a couple of years, but they would have lived. Another alternative is to plant one of each in a large pot and bury the pot over winter outside. Then in the spring, dig a hole and pop them in. You have a better chance of them blooming in the spring then. In your zone you might get by with it best if you dig them in mid November, and then plant them in March, or as early as you can. Good luck and keep us posted on the results!
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Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
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irisarian
Oct 24, 2014 2:55 PM CST
There are some bio degradable pots--that might we a choice. Otherwise regular pots in a trench or your garage would be a good idea. Be sure and label with the names.
Name: Arlyn
Whiteside County, Illinois (Zone 5a)
Irises Beekeeper Region: Illinois Celebrating Gardening: 2015
crowrita1
Oct 24, 2014 2:59 PM CST
I agree I agree with both Paul, Lucy, and Tom. I'm sure they will survive ,un planted, if kept cool and dry, with some good air flow around them to prevent mold....maybe hang them in an 'onion" bag ?! But, if I had any room to do so, I would either "Pot" them, and "sink " the pots, or just pant them directly in the soil....maybe just in a row, ...even 'crowded" closely, and then re plant in the spring when your bed is ready. They are very "forgiving" plants !
[Last edited by crowrita1 - Oct 24, 2014 3:00 PM (+)]
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South central PA (Zone 6a)
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DaveinPA
Oct 24, 2014 4:32 PM CST
Welcome!

As already noted, irises are a hardy flower. I have had good success with digging up clumps and directly placing them on top of the soil after removing the sod. This late in the season I'd remove a small depth, put them down, then put the removed soil on top of the exposed roots. Crowd them as they won't be there permanently. Of course you could do the beds in stages, half each year, with the crowding in the half not being worked on immediately, then repeat on other half.

The other option is the potted option, which I have never had luck with, so others can give you ideas on that and many have already. Several rhizomes of each variety could be placed in pots which are then stuck in the soil close together. In the spring just pull them out, soil and all, and place in holes in the newly prepped beds so as to reduce the trauma to the roots and maybe allow blooming next year.

I think it was Arlyn who last year cut several rhizomes into chunks, let them lay out of the ground all winter, then replanted the chunks in the spring. He had a better than 50% survival rate.

Keep us posted; we all like to learn more tricks.
Name: Greg Hodgkinson
Hanover PA (Zone 6b)
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Misawa77
Oct 24, 2014 8:33 PM CST
I pot irises and over winter them. I have both buried them and just left them on top of the soil. I still have "clumps" to plant and did some of them today.
Name: Polly Kinsman
Hannibal, NY (Zone 6a)

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PollyK
Oct 25, 2014 9:24 AM CST
I would go with what Arlyn says. Pot them up, and leave outside huddled in groups. I do that every year, and they usually bloom right in the pot, then I take them up. divide and replant.

Let us know how you make out, and a big welcome to ATP irises.

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