Irises forum: Iris for dry shade?

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Name: Mary
Lake Stevens, WA (Zone 8a)
Near Seattle
Bookworm Garden Photography Plant and/or Seed Trader Plays in the sandbox Region: Pacific Northwest Seed Starter
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Pistil
Jun 26, 2015 1:00 PM CST
Hi Irisarians-
I live near Seattle. Summers are mild and very dry. My Dad lived in an old house with neglected gardens, there were some purple Bearded Iris there that lived in very dry shade under an enormous Bigleaf Maple, where a beam of direct sun never came until after 8 pm. They were never watered, they bloomed every year. I would guess they were planted 50 years ago, in dense clay but where it never puddles on a slope. Never fertilized, never watered.
Soooo, I know there are some tough old iris that would like to live in my dry shady spots.
I have been trying various cultivars, mostly from Schreiners but mostly they seem like such prima donnas- things eat them so the leaves look ratty, and the blooms are sparse or deformed. When I look up iris growing instructions, they talk about improved soil, heavy fertilizer, spraying for pests, full sun, dividing every other year, and regular watering. I don't want to do all this even in my sunny beds. It's why I don't grow roses.
Any ideas? Any trades-my fancy cultivar for your indestructable NOID that survives and blooms in dry shade?
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
irises
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irisarian
Jun 26, 2015 1:05 PM CST
Perhaps start with the dwarf irises & see how they work. they don't need dividing as often. the reason that Schreiners divide year is because they are a commercial garden. Most people divide every 3 years or if there is too big a clump & they need it.
Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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RoseBlush1
Jun 26, 2015 1:40 PM CST
I have some tough old purple irises that grow in full dry shade. The only reason they didn't bloom this year is that I didn't get up on the slope and brush off the pine needles covering the rhizomes. I've got the same irises growing under and old maple tree out in front of the house. I don't divide them. They have gotten watered every week for the last couple of years because I am having to water my trees for the first time due to the drought. I like my maple tree, so it gets watered ... Smiling

It doesn't seem to have set these old irises back a bit. They probably haven't spread much due to the root competition from the tree.

The irises on the slope never get supplemental water and bloom reliably, if I remember to remove the pine needles.

I don't want bearded irises in this garden, so I am happy to give the slope irises away. However, we are in a period of high summer temps and I won't be taking on the project of digging up the irises as long as it is this hot. If I can dig them up at a later date and ship them to you. You can have them for postage.

Of course, since I don't know much about irises, I'd like to have some information about how to prepare them for shipping and when I can ship them.

btw .. I do love my Dutch irises and would love to have some clumping irises in this garden. I just am not fond of the tall bearded irises in this garden.

I do grow a lot of roses and they are not a lot of work. They just need a deep watering once a week.

Smiles,
Lyn
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Name: Arlyn
Whiteside County, Illinois (Zone 5a)
Irises Beekeeper Region: Illinois Celebrating Gardening: 2015
crowrita1
Jun 26, 2015 1:53 PM CST
Well, the less sun, the less bloom......but for SOME bloom, maybe Indian chief for a "red"
Thumb of 2015-06-26/crowrita1/3195f5
and Coronation, for a yellow
Thumb of 2015-06-26/crowrita1/08564e
or, for a 'lighter" yellow, Flavescens
Thumb of 2015-06-26/crowrita1/7f5493
For a white, Dwarf iris "Snow Maiden" does fairly well, under trees
Thumb of 2015-06-26/crowrita1/1f8028
for a purple, I suppose I. germanica might give a stalk, or two
Thumb of 2015-06-26/crowrita1/60a865
what most people call "Honorabile" will give some bloom for you
Thumb of 2015-06-26/crowrita1/feeeaa
this is a row ,planted under some cedar trees....in about the 'shadiest', driest spot I have .....you can see there is SOME bloom
Thumb of 2015-06-26/crowrita1/0d97d7
these are some of the same cultivars in full sun
Thumb of 2015-06-26/crowrita1/dab6f0
as to disease....shade seems to cut down on leaf spot, but, as for borers....you either have them, or you don't.......I don't think they area "west coast problem", so they won't be an issue. Good luck !
Name: Mary
Lake Stevens, WA (Zone 8a)
Near Seattle
Bookworm Garden Photography Plant and/or Seed Trader Plays in the sandbox Region: Pacific Northwest Seed Starter
Winter Sowing
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Pistil
Jun 27, 2015 11:23 PM CST
Thank you all so much, this is helpful.

Irisarian I have Iris cristata 'Abbey's Violet in dry shade, it is doing quite well and I like it. It was recommended for dry shade by the owner of Edelweiss Nursery and it seems to be true. The slugs do eat them but not enough to kill them and they are spreading. I have tried some other small ones like I. reticulata and they never come back. I am working on some Pacific Coast Iris and I. foetidissima var lutea with some partial success, too early to tell, and I planted a purple intermediate that looks quite healthy but has not bloomed in two years.

RoseBlush Thank you for the offer, your purple ones sound like just what I am looking for. I would love to have them, either for postage or maybe a trade. I sent some bearded iris to the south last summer, it worked very well. Summer is a fine time to divide and replant them, they say July-Sept. I found some instructions that were a bit of a pain, including cutting most of the leaf off, washing off all dirt with hose, brief soak in diluted bleach, then air dry upside down a few days, but it worked great and a lot of plants fit in a very small box! How about we communicate about it when you think you might want to do this.
I planted 50 bulbs of Dutch Iris last fall (they are so cheap!), had many blooms in many colors, I just loved them, we shall see if they return...

Crowrita- Good ideas, I think I might have just the spot for Snow Maiden. That does look like a pretty tough spot under your cedars, but you do have some bloom!

Here is Iris 'Immortality' growing in the sun.
Thumb of 2015-06-28/Pistil/f5b559
Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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RoseBlush1
Jun 27, 2015 11:51 PM CST
Mary ...

You are welcome to the purple irises, but it probably won't happen until late September. Temps are forecasted to be in the high 90s to low 100s every day through September.

I need the morning hours to work in the rest of the garden and it is just too hot to be digging up anything later in the day.

Send me a t-mail in Sept and we'll work something out.

Smiles,
Lyn
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
irises
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irisarian
Jun 28, 2015 1:59 PM CST
Our cristatas do well in shade.
Name: Linnea
Southern Maine, border 5b/6a (Zone 5b)
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Linneaj
Jun 28, 2015 6:37 PM CST
I love the cristatas! The are adorably pretty. Smiling My Honorabiles and I. Pallidas (old purple grape smelling tall bearded iris) are both growing in the shade of a huge maple.
Don't make fear based decisions.
Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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RoseBlush1
Jun 28, 2015 7:36 PM CST
Lucy ...

When I looked them up, the sites I visited said they had to be kept moist in hot climates.

In your experience, how much extra care would they need in a hot climate ?

Smiles,
Lyn
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
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
Jun 28, 2015 9:39 PM CST
We are in New England so not a hot climate so I'm afraid that I am not much help there.
Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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RoseBlush1
Jun 28, 2015 11:04 PM CST
Thank You!
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Name: Bonnie Sojourner
Harris Brake Lake, Arkansas (Zone 7a)
Magnolia zone
Region: United States of America Region: Arkansas Master Gardener: Arkansas Irises Bulbs Seed Starter
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grannysgarden
Jun 29, 2015 7:17 AM CST
My Cristatas live in shade and dappled shade, never direct sun. They like moisture but can take brief dry spells. However, if kept moist almost all the time with regular watering they multiply and bloom better than years when they sit dry for too long. They also like richer soil than beardeds do.
I love my garden.... and Jesus, and coffee, and naps.......
Name: Celia
West Valley City, Utah (Zone 7a)
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Zencat
Jun 29, 2015 7:40 AM CST
Would they be okay on the north side of a garage in Z7a? I love the cristatas and would love to give them a nice cozy home.
Name: Bonnie Sojourner
Harris Brake Lake, Arkansas (Zone 7a)
Magnolia zone
Region: United States of America Region: Arkansas Master Gardener: Arkansas Irises Bulbs Seed Starter
Gardens in Buckets Garden Art Plant and/or Seed Trader Moon Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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grannysgarden
Jun 29, 2015 7:57 AM CST
I am in zone 7a too, Celia, and if kept moist I do not see a problem with growing them there.
I love my garden.... and Jesus, and coffee, and naps.......
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
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Zencat
Jun 29, 2015 8:10 AM CST
Woohoo! I will give them a try. Thanks, Bonnie!
Name: Bonnie Sojourner
Harris Brake Lake, Arkansas (Zone 7a)
Magnolia zone
Region: United States of America Region: Arkansas Master Gardener: Arkansas Irises Bulbs Seed Starter
Gardens in Buckets Garden Art Plant and/or Seed Trader Moon Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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grannysgarden
Jun 29, 2015 8:16 AM CST
The dwarf Cristatas are native to our zone. they grow in the deep hardwoods in rich soils. Unfortunately, many people see them and dig them up, plant them in the middle of their sunny yard and they die from environmental stress.
I love my garden.... and Jesus, and coffee, and naps.......
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
Jun 29, 2015 8:19 AM CST
Isn't it common sense to transplant something into the same conditions in which you found it? You'd think so. Shrug!
Name: Bonnie Sojourner
Harris Brake Lake, Arkansas (Zone 7a)
Magnolia zone
Region: United States of America Region: Arkansas Master Gardener: Arkansas Irises Bulbs Seed Starter
Gardens in Buckets Garden Art Plant and/or Seed Trader Moon Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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grannysgarden
Jun 29, 2015 8:27 AM CST
Common sense is very uncommon these days.
I love my garden.... and Jesus, and coffee, and naps.......
[Last edited by grannysgarden - Jun 29, 2015 8:27 AM (+)]
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Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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RoseBlush1
Jun 29, 2015 8:30 AM CST
grannysgarden said:The dwarf Cristatas are native to our zone. they grow in the deep hardwoods in rich soils. Unfortunately, many people see them and dig them up, plant them in the middle of their sunny yard and they die from environmental stress.


That's what I was afraid of ... I like the look of them, but I have lousy soil with excellent drainage and little shade on the house pad level of my property. Yes, I live in a forested area, but it's the wrong kind .. Smiling

If I were to put them up on the slope to replace the ones I'd like to send to Mary, they would be in dry shade, in a hotter climate and the only time they would get watered would be in the winter months.

It's good to know that I just don't have the right climate for them. There are other plants that will probably work better for that part of the garden.

Smiles,
Lyn

I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Name: Mary
Lake Stevens, WA (Zone 8a)
Near Seattle
Bookworm Garden Photography Plant and/or Seed Trader Plays in the sandbox Region: Pacific Northwest Seed Starter
Winter Sowing
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Pistil
Jun 29, 2015 11:32 AM CST
RoseBlush- Since my I. cristata 'Abbey's Violet is thriving in really dry shade here. The soil is not rich, and it is under a big pine tree, that variety could be a good one for you to try. They get early morning sun only. Last spring and summer was a drought, and I could not water because my house was being remodeled and I could not get to the hoses-they spread anyway! Edelweiss Nursery is in Oregon, and hotter and drier than here but not like California. Maybe in Sept we should swap and you could try them.

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