Irises forum→Tips for establishing new plants.

Views: 411, Replies: 8 » Jump to the end
central ohio (Zone 5b)
PlantingOaks
May 18, 2020 6:06 PM CST
Hi, I'm starting to re-dabble in iris after a few years off.

One of my biggest problems has been getting new purchases established.

I don't have ideal conditions (alkaline clay-leaning soil mostly), but have found both bearded and Siberian types grow well once they get going, or if I purchase them growing with dirt from a local store or neighbor. But, when ordering starts online, I have maybe a 50-50 record on surviving the first year. It feels like our hot dry summer is just too much for little baby transplants. Even after making it through the first year they seem to really struggle for the first few seasons.

I know the basics - sun, good drainage, amend with compost, don't mulch or bury bearded rhizomes, place them horizontally along the soil surface, but was wondering if I could get more targeted advice on how to really baby things and get them established.

I've heard some discussion of growing iris in pots here? Is that for space / display purposes, or is the pot really a better environment for them? Do you use potting mix or amended garden soil? I assume you would want a wide shallow-ish pot?

Thanks so much! Looking forward to not killing all the fancy things I ordered this year!
Name: Evelyn
Sierra foothills, Northern CA (Zone 8a)
Garden Procrastinator Irises Bee Lover Butterflies Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: California
Cat Lover Deer Bulbs Foliage Fan Annuals Seed Starter
Image
evelyninthegarden
May 18, 2020 8:07 PM CST
PlantingOaks ~ Welcome! to the Iris Forum! Hurray!

I can share my experience as I, also, have hard clay soil and there is no rain in the summertime. When I receive my irises in July from the vendors, I plant them temporarily into one gallon pots. I use potting soil, mixed with perlite and Gromulch. Then they are placed in a part sun area, under an oak tree. I check them for watering frequently, as they dry faster than the ones in the ground.

Others may have other regimens. It is always advisable to get a soil test to see what may be lacking in your soil for good growth.

I then later plant them in early fall so that they can become established before winter.

I have moved some in pots to the beds in spring, but the result was not that great. They may have bloomed, but I could see from the leaves that the roots were not well-established. Many were not that stable, being planted so late.

The beds are amended with Gromulch and coarse sand as well as a low nitrogen balaced fertilizer. If I can get it, I use greensand, kelp meal and other organic amendments.
"Luck favors the prepared mind." - Thomas Jefferson
Name: Daisy
close to Baltimore, MD (Zone 7a)
Irises Cat Lover Plant and/or Seed Trader Organic Gardener Region: Maryland Bookworm
Image
DaisyDo
May 18, 2020 8:44 PM CST
I learned something about Louisiana irises this year. The fall of 2018, I sent my cousin in Kansas some tall bearded iris as well as a couple roots of my Louisiana iris, called, "Red Velvet Elvis." Next spring he reported that while all the TB iris had survived and were thriving, Elvis was dead as a doornail. So I did some reading, and learned the following:

1. While TBs can be dug and shipped as early as July, the LAs need to wait until fall, preferably.
2. That if LA roots get dry during shipping, they will die.
3. That while TBs are often happy with the backs of their rhizomes showing above the soil surface, LAs are happier buried an inch or two.
4. LAs might need more moisture than Kansas can easily provide.

So in the fall of 2019, I mailed another couple of Elvis roots to my cousin. But this time I did things differently.

1. I ordered and took delivery on a pack of Miracle Gro Water Storage Crystals.
2. I waited until September to dig.
3. Before digging, I hydrated some of the water storage crystals per the package directions - in a ziplock baggy large enough to also contain the Elvis roots and their trimmed fans.
4. I dug the iris roots, rinsed them off and immediately immersed their roots into the water granules, zipping the baggies closed.
5. I boxed them up and express mailed them to my cousin with instructions to plant the rhizomes immediately, 2" deep, with the water granules well mixed into the surrounding soil to compensate for Kansas dryness, and then to also water them in well. I warned him to water Elvis during periods of drought.

It worked! Two weeks ago my cousin sent me photos of both Elvis plants. They are thriving! I expect they may even bloom this year after his TBs have finished blooming. They look that great!
-"If I can’t drain a swamp, I’ll go pull some weeds." - Charles Williams
Name: Daisy
close to Baltimore, MD (Zone 7a)
Irises Cat Lover Plant and/or Seed Trader Organic Gardener Region: Maryland Bookworm
Image
DaisyDo
May 18, 2020 8:53 PM CST
P.S. Here's a chimera of mt Red Velvet Elvis

Thumb of 2020-05-19/DaisyDo/cfb3ad

And here's the whole plant:


Thumb of 2020-05-19/DaisyDo/b23ec4

-"If I can’t drain a swamp, I’ll go pull some weeds." - Charles Williams
Name: Daisy
close to Baltimore, MD (Zone 7a)
Irises Cat Lover Plant and/or Seed Trader Organic Gardener Region: Maryland Bookworm
Image
DaisyDo
May 18, 2020 8:54 PM CST

(duplicate post deleted)
-"If I can’t drain a swamp, I’ll go pull some weeds." - Charles Williams
[Last edited by DaisyDo - May 18, 2020 10:11 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #2243751 (5)
central ohio (Zone 5b)
PlantingOaks
May 19, 2020 6:23 AM CST
Hi Evelyn. Thank you for sharing your experience! I think I will try pots in a shaded spot to start this year - I may have to translate the fall planting time from zone 8 to zone 5, but I would think some time in our September when the heat breaks and the rain starts again? That would give them about two months to settle in before things really freeze.

Also, thank you for validating my idea to add sand. Everyone seems to say don't add sand to clay, but (from my highly scientific observations of under the kids sandbox) it certainly doesn't seem to make things worse. Your Gromulch sounds very similar to the local municipal compost here, which I do use scads of. However, it doesn't do a very good job of permanently raising the soil level, which was where I was thinking sand.

DaisyDo, I don't think that Louisiana are hardy here, or in any case, I'm trying not to look Smiling . I have a wet area with one thriving pass-along siberian, two happy pseudatas that I thought I killed but apparently resurrected, a bunch of dead new siberians and japanese. The pseudatas were so funny, I planted them ages ago, they immediately died (or so I thought) then last year I looked out and there was this huge clump. To be fair, the wet area is sort of a wild only half-tended part of the yard, so losing a plant isn't as crazy as it sounds. I think if I really want success out there I'll need to extend the irrigation, since it's a pond in the spring, but dry dry dry in the summer.
Name: Daisy
close to Baltimore, MD (Zone 7a)
Irises Cat Lover Plant and/or Seed Trader Organic Gardener Region: Maryland Bookworm
Image
DaisyDo
May 19, 2020 10:40 AM CST
Planting Oaks, Louisianas don't seem to be limited by freezing at all. We are on the border of zone 7a and 6b. It freezes here repeatedly every winter, and they don't seem fazed by it at all. I've had Louisianas for at least 20 years with no problem. I think that my Dorthea K. Williamsons go clear back to about 1990.

What they ARE more likely to be limited by is summer drought. That's why I've planted them in an area where the neighbor's sump pump drains over onto our property. Nothing else wants to grow in that boggy area, but the LAs simply love it.

So, don't worry about freezes, but if you have a moist area, GO FOR IT with Loiusianas. They have such a nice range of colors!
-"If I can’t drain a swamp, I’ll go pull some weeds." - Charles Williams
central ohio (Zone 5b)
PlantingOaks
May 19, 2020 1:26 PM CST
Huh, I wonder why I wrote them off then. Are they particularly pH-sensitive? That's the other reason I frequently eliminate a species from consideration (*glares at rhododendrons*).Google is giving me mixed opinions on how negotiable their acid preference is. We have limestone based soil here, so there's only so much that can be done about it.

Maybe I was just putting it off until I could run irrigation out to our swamp. There's a small actual basin, but most of the plantable area is very seasonal: underwater in late winter through spring, but dry as a bone in the summer.

In any case, thanks for putting them back on my list!
Name: Daisy
close to Baltimore, MD (Zone 7a)
Irises Cat Lover Plant and/or Seed Trader Organic Gardener Region: Maryland Bookworm
Image
DaisyDo
May 19, 2020 3:59 PM CST
I haven't heard of ph being a problem for them, but I don't know. Our pH tends toward acid here.
-"If I can’t drain a swamp, I’ll go pull some weeds." - Charles Williams

« Garden.org Homepage
« Back to the top
« Forums List
« Irises forum
Only the members of the Members group may reply to this thread.

Member Login:

[ Join now ]

Today's site banner is by ge1836 and is called "DAYLILY Starling"

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.