Irises forum: How do you fertilize your irises?

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Name: Jan Wax
Mendocino County, N. CA (Zone 9a)
I'm a studio potter.
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janwax
Nov 4, 2014 4:52 PM CST
On Facebook recently, someone recommended sprinkling super phos (0-48-0) around the irises.
Better blooms in May, they said
Has anyone tried this? I've only used some compost, bone meal, and weak liquid fish fertilizer in water..
Other suggestions?
Iris is the goddess of the rainbow.
Name: Arlyn
Whiteside County, Illinois (Zone 5a)
Irises Beekeeper Region: Illinois Celebrating Gardening: 2015
crowrita1
Nov 4, 2014 5:13 PM CST
I use it......several ways, Like you read, a "sprinkling" around the plants seem to really help with bloom....I do it really early, just as new growth starts, and, for the rebloomers, another "sprinkle" just after the "spring" bloom is finished. There is a relationship between the amount of phosphate, and the amount of nitrogen ( I forget the exact ratio, but you can probably "google" to find it), so , in other words, if the right amount of nitrogen isn't present in the soil....all of the phosphate won't be available to the plant, and will just 'leach out' of the soil.
Depending on what other 'amendments" I'm adding to the soil( alfalfa pellets, for example have a nitrogen content, as does "organic' Preen, or corn gluten meal), I take plain ,old 10-10-10 fertilizer, and mix it , 50 /50, with the triple super phosphate, which is 0-48-0(at least the "brand" I use...that results in a final "mix" of 5-27-5, which is just about perfect for bearded iris......but, remember....if you are adding other products that have a nitrogen content, you have to be carful not to end up TOO high in nitrogen. I would recommend that before adding ANYTHING to the soil, in the way of fertilizer amendments, that a person has a soil test done, to see just what your soil is lacking (if anything), as well as to get the 'ph" tested....the ph has to be "right", or the plants can't use the fertilizer.
Name: Marilyn
Central California (Zone 9b)
Region: California Bee Lover Butterflies Birds Enjoys or suffers hot summers Composter
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Moiris
Nov 4, 2014 5:31 PM CST
I'm new at this too Jan...so I'm glad you started this thread. I figured I can't go wrong if I use the fertilizer that they use at Superstition Gardens. Their mix is 6-20-10. Because I live close I just buy it from them. It might be too expensive to ship...but you might benefit from knowing the balance they use.
Name: Jan Wax
Mendocino County, N. CA (Zone 9a)
I'm a studio potter.
Hummingbirder Dog Lover Irises Region: California Organic Gardener Dahlias
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janwax
Nov 4, 2014 6:44 PM CST
Thanks for the helpful into Arlyn! Thank You!
Iris is the goddess of the rainbow.
Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
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Paul2032
Nov 4, 2014 7:35 PM CST
I have told this before but maybe it needs repeating. A number of years ago UIS was on a tour and visited a ladies iris garden. The bloom was glorious and some things that were short in all of our gardens like Queen of Hearts and Dazzling Gold were nice and tall in her garden. Her soil was very sandy. She sprinkled Super Phosphate around the clumps in early spring.......
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
Name: Marilyn
Central California (Zone 9b)
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Moiris
Nov 4, 2014 7:36 PM CST
Good to know! Thanks Paul! I tip my hat to you.
Name: Sherry Austin
Santa Cruz, CA (Zone 9a)
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Henhouse
Nov 4, 2014 9:17 PM CST
ok.. I've been using bonemeal, or bulb starter, which is not nearly high enough in Phosphate. On a quest tomorrow for Super phosphate to mix w/ 10-10-10.. Sounds reasonable to me.
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Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
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tveguy3
Nov 5, 2014 4:31 AM CST
Ghio recomends in his catalog that you use something like a 10-10-10 in the spring. That's all he uses. We can't buy them here, as they have been banned for use. Too many Phosphates showing up in the ground water.
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: 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
Nov 5, 2014 10:39 AM CST
It is hard to find 10-10-10 here too. I have it to use on my Japanese iris (which are heavy feeders due to their water requirements), but wasn't sure it would be of benefit to bearded. I have been using just bone meal. I'll have to check on if I can get super phosphate.
My road calls me, lures me west, east, south & north; most roads lead men homewards, my road leads me forth. - John Masefield
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
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irisarian
Nov 5, 2014 12:04 PM CST
We use 5-10=10 as well as alphalfa pellets. Make our own compost over the years. Keep the nitrogen low (first number).
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
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tveguy3
Nov 5, 2014 1:14 PM CST
I can't get 10-10-10 ususally anymore, so I get 13-13-13 and just use less of it.
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: 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
Nov 5, 2014 2:04 PM CST
This forum is the first time I have heard of the use of alfalfa pellets. Not sure who would carry them around here.
My road calls me, lures me west, east, south & north; most roads lead men homewards, my road leads me forth. - John Masefield
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
Nov 5, 2014 3:58 PM CST
I used to buy them at the local feed store for my llamas. They come in large bags like dog food, etc.
Name: Ken
Traverse City, Michigan (Zone 5a)
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bramedog
Nov 5, 2014 8:32 PM CST
You can get alfalfa pellets at Tractor Supply.

[Last edited by bramedog - Nov 5, 2014 8:53 PM (+)]
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Name: Linnea
Southern Maine, border 5b/6a (Zone 5b)
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Linneaj
Nov 5, 2014 11:24 PM CST
I would be wary of putting GMO alfalfa pellets on my garden. Wouldn't mown clover or green bean plants work just as well? I suppose I could grow some alfalfa and mow that too for mulch.

So far, I haven't used any fertilizer on my iris except that I let the leaves rot for years. Except the in too damp and dark places (I moved those), they all bloom and multiply very well. We will see with the new front lawn gardens. That used to be grass, clover and mostly violets.

Don't make fear based decisions.
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
Nov 6, 2014 9:08 AM CST
Since they are pellets - do you work them in around the iris? Are they popular with squirrels? I have plenty of big squirrels so I don't want to encourage them!!
My road calls me, lures me west, east, south & north; most roads lead men homewards, my road leads me forth. - John Masefield
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
Nov 6, 2014 9:13 AM CST
Also - what extra fertilizers, or magic, do you all use to get re-bloomers going? And when do you apply?
My road calls me, lures me west, east, south & north; most roads lead men homewards, my road leads me forth. - John Masefield
Name: Arlyn
Whiteside County, Illinois (Zone 5a)
Irises Beekeeper Region: Illinois Celebrating Gardening: 2015
crowrita1
Nov 6, 2014 9:29 AM CST
here's an informative link that should answer most of your questions http://winterberryirises.com/iris_culture
Name: Jan Wax
Mendocino County, N. CA (Zone 9a)
I'm a studio potter.
Hummingbirder Dog Lover Irises Region: California Organic Gardener Dahlias
Garden Art Cat Lover Vegetable Grower Birds Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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janwax
Nov 6, 2014 10:35 AM CST
Thanks, Arlyn. I have the article bookmarked to re-read. Lots of information.
Puzzled by one statement - cautioning not to water in the daytime because it causes rot. Who waters at night? Hmmmm....
Also, while it looks like Super Phos is obtained from rock, I wonder about some of the other suggestions. Also, Tom's comment
about a it being banned in his area because it's getting in the ground water gives me pause.
Iris is the goddess of the rainbow.
Name: Arlyn
Whiteside County, Illinois (Zone 5a)
Irises Beekeeper Region: Illinois Celebrating Gardening: 2015
crowrita1
Nov 6, 2014 11:44 AM CST
I think you would read that as, night= low-light conditions (not in strong sunshine)

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