Irises forum: Let's Talk "Dirt" . . .

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Name: Patrick Alan
Toms River, New Jersey (Zone 7a)
Clematis Irises Region: New Jersey Roses Dog Lover Lilies
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AlanJ
Apr 14, 2016 12:56 PM CST
As much as I love looking at Iris in bloom, I also like to look at the soil the Iris are planted in, so always look for those photo's that include the entire clump of iris, including the 'dirt', and look to see what type of soil the iris are growing in. Some photo's look like the rhizomes are planted in pure "Dusty Dirt"
and others look like the soil is more composted and organic.
I'm amazed at the Iris that bloom in that old 'dusty dirt' type of soil. Their blooms are gorgeous!
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle ~ Plato
Name: Richard
Joshua Tree (Zone 9a)
Birds Irises Ponds Orchids
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creativeclover
Apr 14, 2016 1:34 PM CST
I do a composted type of dirt. The type you buy in the garden center. Soil with nutrients added like micrcle grow (I use one rich in comost added to the soil so I don't have to addthe fertilizer), so that way the plants are off to a good start. I do mix in some Alpaca (not hot like others and can be used right away and contains no seeds) fertilizer or use fertilizer tea.
Name: Jen Jax
Northern Kentucky (Zone 6a)
Irises Peonies Region: Kentucky Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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Boxergirl
Apr 14, 2016 6:59 PM CST
I have heavy clay soil and tons of rock. so I add lots of amendments. I add top soil, compost, sand, gypsum, and peat. Then use the tiller to combine it all.
Name: Leslie
Durham, NC (Zone 8a)
Region: North Carolina Irises Cat Lover Garden Photography Enjoys or suffers hot summers Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Lestv
Apr 14, 2016 7:08 PM CST
My yard is hard clay so I build raised beds with a garden mix soil that is brought from a place that mixes chicken manure with topsoil, compost and such. I would have a hard time growing anything without a raised bed.
My road calls me, lures me west, east, south & north; most roads lead men homewards, my road leads me forth. - John Masefield
South San Francisco Bay Area (Zone 9b)
"The mountains are calling..."
Region: California Garden Photography Garden Procrastinator Daylilies Pollen collector Dog Lover
Moon Gardener Irises Heucheras Vegetable Grower Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Polymerous
Apr 14, 2016 7:20 PM CST
Clay here...
The current avatar image is that of a volunteer daylily seedling showing cristation.
Name: Liz
Concord, MA (Zone 6a)
Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Peonies Organic Gardener Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Butterflies Bulbs
Bee Lover Hummingbirder Daylilies Clematis Region: Northeast US Birds
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Dachsylady86
Apr 14, 2016 7:57 PM CST
I know that I have seen it mentioned before, but since we are talking dirt, what does everyone here use for potting mix? I'm probably going have to pot up most of my bonuses. Also does it matter what kind of pot it is? Size? Color?
Name: Jen Jax
Northern Kentucky (Zone 6a)
Irises Peonies Region: Kentucky Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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Boxergirl
Apr 14, 2016 8:04 PM CST
I use miracle grow potting soil with top soil mixed in. But I only pot in emergencys. Mine go straight into the ground no matter what.
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
Apr 14, 2016 8:42 PM CST
Mainly into the ground here. commercial potting soil for seedlings.
South San Francisco Bay Area (Zone 9b)
"The mountains are calling..."
Region: California Garden Photography Garden Procrastinator Daylilies Pollen collector Dog Lover
Moon Gardener Irises Heucheras Vegetable Grower Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Polymerous
Apr 14, 2016 11:43 PM CST
I use Summerwinds (a nursery chain here) organic planting mix for potting. Depending on what I'm planting, I may mix in fine redwood mulch and vermiculite, and maybe some alfalfa meal and/or compost. Often, though, I will just recycle dirt from old containers before adding in new, unused planting mix. (If the old containers last held nursery plants, the soil in there is often very light.) And then, of course, add in whatever time release and/or organic fertilizers.

Curiously enough, I seem to be having a bit better success seed starting with Miracle Gro organic planting mix, as opposed to any kind of seed starting mix. This is with daylily seeds, though... YMMV for irises and other plants. (And I still have to play games to keep the gnat population down. Glare )
The current avatar image is that of a volunteer daylily seedling showing cristation.
Name: Marilyn
Central California (Zone 9b)
Region: California Bee Lover Butterflies Birds Enjoys or suffers hot summers Composter
Annuals Dog Lover Cat Lover Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Moiris
Apr 15, 2016 12:01 AM CST
My soil is sandy and on the acidic side. I try to mix in compost to help the water retention and provide nutrients, but I have planted some in straight soil and they seem to be doing fine. My biggist problem is keeping the water on the plants long enough for the to absorb is. The water drains so incredibly quickly so I actually build birms around the plants or water in trenches along the rows. Eventually I want to get everything on drip. That will make life much easier.

I pot my irises in a mixture of Kellog's organic soil (heavy on the wood chips) and topsoil. I'm finding it drains too quickly so I need to try something else. Superstition told me they only trust Miracle-Gro soil...but I don't know which type.

Good for you Richard on using the alpaca manure. I used to have llamas and they too have excellent soil amending abilities! Hilarious!
Name: Liz
Concord, MA (Zone 6a)
Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Peonies Organic Gardener Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Butterflies Bulbs
Bee Lover Hummingbirder Daylilies Clematis Region: Northeast US Birds
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Dachsylady86
Apr 15, 2016 2:13 PM CST
I found a new place to make a bed for most if not all of the possible bonuses Hurray!

Region: California
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UndertheSun
Apr 15, 2016 2:54 PM CST
Is the new place my garden? Whistling
Name: Charlotte
Salt Lake City, Utah (Zone 6b)
genealogist specializing in French
Irises Region: Utah Hostas Bulbs
cbunny41
Apr 15, 2016 4:34 PM CST
We have a great compost here called Oakdale, from a poultry farm. It is what Thanksgiving Point uses exclusively; TP is a large non-profit garden, etc. founded by the Ashton family. Ashton was one of the founders of Microsoft. My soil is pretty good (between clay and humus) but it has been years since I have done much fertilizing. I am going to use Alfalfa pellets this year too. In the past I have done fertilizing when I prepared a bed and then sometimes added compost around the iris in the spring.
Name: Niki
Bend, Oregon (Zone 6a)
Flowers are food for the soul.
Region: Oregon Bee Lover Butterflies Daylilies Dragonflies Frogs and Toads
Hummingbirder Irises Organic Gardener
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HighdesertNiki
Apr 15, 2016 5:03 PM CST
I don't have much organic material in the soil here, and a lot of large rocks. I add peat moss and compost. My husband is going to get bio fine from the garbage dump for the new beds. Thomas Johnson told me their commercial field used to be forest. It was very dry and cracked, but obviously becomes some serious mud when wet. Mid-America Gardens has super rich soil.
"The Earth laughs in flowers."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Name: Richard
Joshua Tree (Zone 9a)
Birds Irises Ponds Orchids
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creativeclover
Apr 15, 2016 6:06 PM CST
Moiris said: I pot my irises in a mixture of Kellog's organic soil (heavy on the wood chips) and topsoil. I'm finding it drains too quickly so I need to try something else. Superstition told me they only trust Miracle-Gro soil...but I don't know which type.

Good for you Richard on using the alpaca manure. I used to have llamas and they too have excellent soil amending abilities! Hilarious!


I use miracle grow. If I remember right its marked for flowering plants. Than I mix it 65% soil, 35% compost and then make the beds with that, and after I plant I go back over with the pieces I took out of the alpaca tea and cover the bed with with it. So far its worked good. I do need to get a good overall fertilizer though.

What do the rest of you use as a good overall fertilizer?
Name: Lloyd
Oregon
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lharvey16
Jul 16, 2016 9:06 AM CST
Just FYI. I read several places about the benefits of alfalfa for a soil amendment with the recommendation to dig in the pellets. They mentioned that if just scattered on top of the soil, it becomes slimy and smelly when it gets wet. They didn't mention that dug in alfalfa is magnetic to deer who normally leave iris alone. Had to replant half of dozen that had been pulled up by hungry deer. It may be a one time thing once they got a taste of the leaves and stopped. Have to wait and see on that one. Lots of "new" deer here without tasting experience, too.
Thumb of 2016-07-16/lharvey16/5a6393
(this is an archived picture from winter. Just enjoy the melanin deficient "red."

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
Jul 16, 2016 6:00 PM CST
We use the powdered alfalfa when we can get it --not often available.
Name: Leslie
Durham, NC (Zone 8a)
Region: North Carolina Irises Cat Lover Garden Photography Enjoys or suffers hot summers Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Lestv
Jul 16, 2016 6:17 PM CST
I know that Chad Harris recommends Miracle Gro for potted Japanese iris as well.
I admit to slacking. The potted plants are in the same garden mix I use in my raised beds. In my defense, the potted plants are doing really well this year, even with all this endless rain .
My road calls me, lures me west, east, south & north; most roads lead men homewards, my road leads me forth. - John Masefield
Name: Lyn Gerry
Watkins Glen, NY (Zone 6a)
Keeps Horses Vegetable Grower Organic Gardener Irises Permaculture Dog Lover
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LynNY
Jul 16, 2016 7:16 PM CST
Our village has a compost area. For soil, I use the composted leaf / yard waste and add composted horse manure from my own horses. Just having a huge raised bed project to do in a hurry, I bought topsoil (a truckload) This soil is pretty lacking in organic matter but I will mix in manure. I also fertilize with bone meal, rock phosphate and lately I've added some kelp meal to the new beds just because I happen to have a bunch left over from a homemade horse supplement. I also add wood ash from the stove to raise the ph (acid soil here and manure is acidic too) and provide potash.

I too am amazed at the pictures of the famous iris farms' soil. My gardening background is as an organic veg gardener. This flower thing relatively new, a luxury enabled by moving from Los Angeles to rural New York state where there is water. I'm used to thinking of a good soil as something dark, rich and crumbly, but dang if these miraculous irises won't grow anywhere.

My garden soil helpers
Thumb of 2016-07-17/LynNY/fcb063

[Last edited by LynNY - Jul 16, 2016 7:19 PM (+)]
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Name: Barbalee
Amarillo, TX (Zone 7a)
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Barbalee
Jul 16, 2016 7:45 PM CST
Those are mighty good lookin' maure producers, Lyn! Rolling my eyes.

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