Irises forum: Need advice regarding my Bearded Irises

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Name: Joshua
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (Zone 10b)
Köppen Climate Zone Cfb
Region: Australia Bookworm Cat Lover Lilies Orchids Seed Starter
Annuals Container Gardener Garden Photography
Australis
Jul 26, 2016 8:01 PM CST
Hi all,

Haven't posted in the Iris forum before (I've only been in the Lilies forum), but was hoping somebody would be able to help. I was given some bearded irises by my aunt several months ago and since my garden bed was not ready, I put them into planter boxes as a temporary measure (8 in each). I recognise they're way too close together, but was hoping that they would be fine for the 6-12 months that they'd need to be in them.

The two planters are kept at the edge of the carport so that they get light but not much rain (currently in Melbourne we're in the middle of winter and it's been cold and wet). I have not mulched the planters and the rhizomes are only slightly covered. I've noticed that in one of the planters (see photos below) that a number of the fans are discoloured near the base and one entire fan has bent over. I have very little experience growing irises, so I don't know whether this is normal or whether there is a problem (the fact that the other planter doesn't show this tells me that there's something wrong).

Thumb of 2016-07-27/Australis/0e5ca3
Thumb of 2016-07-27/Australis/a84f3c
Thumb of 2016-07-27/Australis/1def17

Would somebody be able to advise me on what I need to do? I don't want to lose them if it can be helped. I can't put them into the garden at present, so if they need to be moved, I'll have to get some more planters/pots and repot them.

Thanks.

Name: Leslie
Durham, NC (Zone 8a)
Region: North Carolina Irises Cat Lover Garden Photography Enjoys or suffers hot summers Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
Lestv
Jul 26, 2016 8:54 PM CST
It is normal for iris fans to lose a few leaves after planting. Just remove the dead leaves. As for the leaves bending over - they will do that when they grow high too fast but they also may need some water. Iris don't like too much water. But they should be given a thorough drink at least once a week.

The iris are planted with the rhizome at the correct depth but they would reward you if you raise them up and add more soil. The boxes look like you could easily add another 8-10 cm or so of soil which would be great for the roots.
My road calls me, lures me west, east, south & north; most roads lead men homewards, my road leads me forth. - John Masefield
Name: Joshua
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (Zone 10b)
Köppen Climate Zone Cfb
Region: Australia Bookworm Cat Lover Lilies Orchids Seed Starter
Annuals Container Gardener Garden Photography
Australis
Jul 26, 2016 10:10 PM CST
Thanks Leslie. I will add a bit more soil and compost to the planter boxes and try to raise the rhizomes a bit.

Region: California
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UndertheSun
Jul 27, 2016 12:08 AM CST
They look fine to me! When you remove the dead leaves, only pull off the ones that come of easy. You don't want to leave an open wound on the rhizome. Cut off the dead leaves that are more attached to the rhizomes.
Name: Joshua
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (Zone 10b)
Köppen Climate Zone Cfb
Region: Australia Bookworm Cat Lover Lilies Orchids Seed Starter
Annuals Container Gardener Garden Photography
Australis
Jul 27, 2016 12:11 AM CST
Thanks Rob. It's nice to know that they're okay. I'll still add some soil and tidy up the leaves at the same time.

Region: California
Image
UndertheSun
Jul 27, 2016 12:17 AM CST
You're welcome and Welcome! to the iris group. Thumbs up

Region: California Cat Lover Irises Enjoys or suffers hot summers Dog Lover
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iciris
Jul 27, 2016 1:38 AM CST
Welcome! to the Iris group.
Name: Joshua
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (Zone 10b)
Köppen Climate Zone Cfb
Region: Australia Bookworm Cat Lover Lilies Orchids Seed Starter
Annuals Container Gardener Garden Photography
Australis
Jul 27, 2016 1:46 AM CST
Thank You!
Name: Greg Hodgkinson
Hanover PA (Zone 6b)
Charter ATP Member Irises I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Pennsylvania Region: Japan Garden Photography
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Misawa77
Jul 27, 2016 5:18 AM CST
They look great and I do not see an issues at all that you should be concerned with. The dead leaves your irises are experiencing is quite normal. They look good. Do you know the names of them?
Name: Joshua
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (Zone 10b)
Köppen Climate Zone Cfb
Region: Australia Bookworm Cat Lover Lilies Orchids Seed Starter
Annuals Container Gardener Garden Photography
Australis
Jul 27, 2016 5:48 AM CST
Thanks Greg. I've added some more soil to the planter box and raised the rhizomes somewhat (being careful not to damage the roots) this evening. I noted that the ones that I thought looked the healthiest had the biggest root systems, whilst a couple very easily lifted out entirely.

Unfortunately I have no idea what any of my irises are. When they flower I intend to post photos and hopefully somebody will be able to id them for me. All I can tell you is that they should be a number of different bearded irises. I suspect (but am not sure) that the bearded irises are tall bearded irises (it was many years ago when I happened to visit at the right time and saw them in bloom). My aunt thinks they were planted by the original owners of the property (which would be at least 20+ years ago, as the original house is no longer there and my aunt and uncle moved into the existing house over 15 years ago). There are still heaps growing there (although the original house garden is not maintained), so if the worst were to happen and some of these die, I can probably get a few more from my aunt.
South central PA (Zone 6a)
Irises Region: Pennsylvania
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DaveinPA
Jul 27, 2016 6:02 AM CST
Welcome to this forum. Enjoy the irises. Be aware of the tendency to become addicted to them and to keep adding more once your garden bed is ready. The group on here will help encourage that addiction! Smiling
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
Jul 27, 2016 6:25 AM CST
Ordinarily, it is a good idea when transplanting Irises to cut off the leaves in a fan-shape. This allows the rhizome to concentrate its energy into developing a root system, rather than spend energy trying to maintain those leaves. You know that your rhizome has *settled in* -- when it begins to form a new leaf in the center of the fan. This is humorously referred to as *getting the finger*!!! Whistling

The bent-over leaves on yours are an indication that the rhizome doesn't have the resources to maintain full leaf-length. Watering would help, as Leslie said. You could still cut the leaves (leave about 6" of leaves) into a fan. And the drying off of the outside leaves is normal, as has already been mentioned.

You mentioned adding compost to your soil -- I would be very careful about that. Compost has a tendency to hold water and Irises don't like *wet feet*. Smiling

I think it's exciting that you don't know what Irises you have -- that's like waiting for Christmas!! I look forward to seeing your pictures when they're in bloom!!!

Welcome!

Thoughts become things -- choose the good ones. ([url=www.tut.com]www.tut.com[/url])
Name: Joshua
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (Zone 10b)
Köppen Climate Zone Cfb
Region: Australia Bookworm Cat Lover Lilies Orchids Seed Starter
Annuals Container Gardener Garden Photography
Australis
Jul 27, 2016 6:39 AM CST
Thanks DaveinPA and Mary. I will probably trim back the leaves on the fan that has bent over, then.

I did add a little bit of compost, since the soil in the planters wasn't as good as I'd like it to be. It wasn't a large percentage of the volume, so hopefully that won't be much of an issue.
Name: Arlyn
Whiteside County, Illinois (Zone 5a)
Irises Beekeeper Region: Illinois Celebrating Gardening: 2015
crowrita1
Jul 27, 2016 6:42 AM CST
Welcome! !
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
Jul 27, 2016 6:53 AM CST
Funny thing about Irises -- the soil that we think isn't good enough, is usually the soil that the Irises like the best. I think we probably do more damage trying to improve things, than anything else. Shrug! I remember an Iris growing in the gravel driveway at my folks' house. I can't imagine how it got there -- but it was as happy as can be. Go figure..............
Thoughts become things -- choose the good ones. ([url=www.tut.com]www.tut.com[/url])
Name: Joshua
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (Zone 10b)
Köppen Climate Zone Cfb
Region: Australia Bookworm Cat Lover Lilies Orchids Seed Starter
Annuals Container Gardener Garden Photography
Australis
Jul 27, 2016 7:03 AM CST
Oh dear. I hope that I haven't made things worse, then! I only tinkered with the one planter, as the second one was looking fine and I decided it was probably best not to fiddle with it, even though the soil is a bit shallow.
Name: Arlyn
Whiteside County, Illinois (Zone 5a)
Irises Beekeeper Region: Illinois Celebrating Gardening: 2015
crowrita1
Jul 27, 2016 8:39 AM CST
I think they will do alright...short term...in the boxes. I would guess that the soil was a bit depleted from whatever was in there before, so the bit of compost you added should give them a bit of a boost.
Name: Celia
West Valley City, Utah (Zone 7a)
Pour vivre parmi les fleurs
Irises Garden Photography I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Butterflies Birds
Cat Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Hummingbirder Plant Identifier
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Zencat
Jul 27, 2016 9:12 AM CST
I agree with the rest. I don't think you've done any them harm by adding compost.

Iris are incredibly tough and can take what we think are adverse conditions. I have noticed the more I baby them, the worse they look. Yours look great and I say 'job well done!' Thumbs up

Also, Welcome! You'll be addicted in no time. Since you saw them several years ago and still think of them, I'd say you're well on your way! Hilarious!
South central PA (Zone 6a)
Irises Region: Pennsylvania
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DaveinPA
Jul 27, 2016 9:26 AM CST
I often put mulch, and even some non-mulched veggie or fruit leftovers, between the rhizomes, 4-10 cm deep. That lets the added material break down at the same time the roots are growing and eventually extending into that area so they don't encounter "raw" veggies. If you can add several earthworms to each planter they will help the overall process.
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Irises Vegetable Grower Butterflies Region: Wisconsin Keeps Horses Cat Lover
Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry Daylilies Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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tveguy3
Jul 27, 2016 10:44 AM CST
Welcome! Joshua They have given you a lot of advice, so I won't add more. Just wanted to welcome you to the iris forum.
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

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