Irises forum: Fertilizing Poll

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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
Feb 13, 2017 3:02 PM CST
Since it is getting to be the time to do the spring feeding of the irises before bloom time I have a question of all of you. What is your spring iris regimen?

What do you use as fertilizer in the spring? Do you turn the earth and mix the fertilizer in around each individual iris, or do you broadcast spread it, then scratch it in? I have always worked it in around each iris, but with the numbers I have now this is getting to be really labor intensive. Do you use liquid fertilizers?

How early do you spread the grub killer? Is it ever too early to spray the fungicide?

I would love to hear from all of you about your methods, and if you have found anything to be more beneficial for your bloom results. Thank You!
My road calls me, lures me west, east, south & north; most roads lead men homewards, my road leads me forth. - John Masefield
[Last edited by Lestv - Feb 13, 2017 3:03 PM (+)]
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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
Feb 13, 2017 3:22 PM CST
I was just using bone meal at transplant & six weeks before bloom. I read it takes awhile to break down. At transplant I mixed it in the bottom of the hole, but tiny rhizomes let it be close enough to the surface to attract ground squirrels to dig them up to eat the bone meal. I tried various methods of capturing the squirrels and they are just too smart. In the end bubble yum gum was left out and the squirrel disappeared. I also broadcast the bone meal, but had to broadcast cayenne pepper to keep the neighborhood dogs from jumping in the bed to sniff around.

Last year was a departure where I decided to broadcast generic osmocote in the whole flower bed in addition. This slow release fertilizer seemed to make all my plants happy with the least amount of work on my part. Even the Dutch Iris decided to bloom again.
"The Earth laughs in flowers."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Name: Jane H.
Kentucky (Zone 6b)
Irises Birds Region: United States of America Region: Kentucky Clematis
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janielouy
Feb 13, 2017 3:47 PM CST
What exactly do you mean by broadcast? Just throw it around?
I have used Super Bloom which is a mix in water type which lasts a long time since you only use about a tablespoon/gallon. I do it several times. I learned the hard way not to use bone meal since some loose dogs dug up several of my irises and displaced many markers.
I have also used Bulb and Bloom food that is 4-10-10 that I just scratch in around the rhizomes. I have also used worm castings but that is rather high in nitrogen to use in the rainy spring. I know two hybridizers who use the castings. I use it sparingly and mostly in the fall. I also use Super phosphate at planting time.
I am wondering if it is too early for fertilizer in KY. I hear borers hatch about the time the tulips bloom which may be early this year. So when the crocuses bloom, that I have heard is the time to put the Merit stuff out. But I am not an expert....
Name: Liz
Concord, MA (Zone 6a)
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Dachsylady86
Feb 13, 2017 4:35 PM CST
Is 10-10-10 too much nitrogen even if only a small quantity is added?
(Zone 9b)
Region: California
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UndertheSun
Feb 13, 2017 6:36 PM CST
Bone meal and alfalfa bring too many critters to the beds. I already have a hard enough time dealing with them.

Over a week ago, I scratched in some 6-20-10 in the older beds. I also removed any remaining dead leaves, removed soil that got washed over the rhizomes from all the rain and cut off any leaf spot that I saw. The new beds and replanted beds did not get fertilized.

Liz, I remember reading Ghio recommending hitting the irises with 10-10-10 after blooming. Maybe Sherry can confirm that...
Name: Gabriel/Gabe Rivera
Charlotte, NC (Zone 7b)
German imported, Michigan raised
Region: North Carolina Garden Photography Region: United States of America Hostas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Dog Lover
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Cuzz4short
Feb 13, 2017 6:40 PM CST
I made a concoction from 6-10-10(decent release time)and and
0-45-0(slow release) per square footage of each bed with a simple formula per sq ft required of each content as required. Hopefully it changed the content to 3-33-5. Only issue..release time of nutrients.

I cleaned the beds, evenly spread it per bed's sq footage and gently scratches it in. So far everything is growing and increasing as they should at this time. Too hard to tell at the moment though, but EVERYTHING looks great, emerging and firm.There's been a few heavy rains since I spread it and no rot yet. I added it very early February, don't judge. We've had only 1 cold day though since I spread it.











Gimme it and I'll grow it!
[Last edited by Cuzz4short - Feb 13, 2017 6:41 PM (+)]
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Name: Sherry Austin
Santa Cruz, CA (Zone 9a)
Region: California Irises Keeper of Poultry Roses Dragonflies Birds
Bulbs Foliage Fan Photo Contest Winner: 2015
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Henhouse
Feb 14, 2017 1:40 AM CST

Liz, I remember reading Ghio recommending hitting the irises with 10-10-10 after blooming. Maybe Sherry can confirm that...[/quote]

Yes, Joe uses 10-10-10... or 12-12-12.. Whatever is cheaper.. He says he spreads it at the beginning of February. Joe's seedling beds are at his house, which is fairly close to the ocean, and I'm guessing his season starts a little before mine because he's warmer in the winter.. I think his growing ground is a little more temperate than my place, as well. I've always gone by mid-February as a starting point for fertilizing.. Riley Probst says 6 weeks before bloom. I'm going to try to get some out this week before it rains. I think I've got 6-20-10.. I don't have time to scratch it in.. I'm so far behind with this weather... I bought a couple of sacks of alfalfa pellets and will try to broadcast that around the garden .. Everything seemed to benefit from it last year. It's cheap, and better than nothing... and I like the smell.. I also mixed it in the holes when I planted a bunch from pots a couple weeks ago.

When counting, try not to mix chickens with blessings.
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Irises Vegetable Grower Butterflies Region: Wisconsin Keeps Horses Cat Lover
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tveguy3
Feb 14, 2017 5:10 AM CST
I have used bone meal in the hole when I first plant them, and then side dress with a balanced fertilizer in the spring when they just start to show signs of new growth. That's it, nothing more. Once the temps stay above freezing for a week or so, I treat for borers. I think those who are into re-bloomers fertilize after bloom. Smiling
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
(Zone 7a)
Irises Garden Photography Hybridizer Region: Tennessee Seed Starter
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arilbred
Feb 14, 2017 5:39 AM CST
I have never fertilized till 2 days ago. I broadcast a 3-9-6 fertilizer and watered it in. Much to much work to scratch it in.
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
Feb 14, 2017 8:35 AM CST
I use 4-10-10 or bone meal at planting, and have been working in bone meal around every plant in the spring. As I said, that has gotten extremely labor intensive. I fertilize the LA's and JI's more and with 8-8-8 or 10-10-10.

Tom - when you say "side dress" does that mean you are working it in around each iris? Rob - scratched around each iris?

Janie - yes, I meant like using a broadcast spreader that does indeed throw it everywhere instead of hand dropping fertilizer around each rhizome.

Gabe - is your concoction liquid or pellet?

I never thought about squirrels liking bone meal. I have never had much problem with it, but think my bearded iris need something more this year.
My road calls me, lures me west, east, south & north; most roads lead men homewards, my road leads me forth. - John Masefield
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
Feb 14, 2017 10:50 AM CST
Leslie, it's ground squirrels not the tree types. They might be gone now.
"The Earth laughs in flowers."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
(Zone 9b)
Region: California
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UndertheSun
Feb 14, 2017 11:58 AM CST
I scratch the fertilizer in around each iris. I do it one bed at a time over the course of a couple of days.

There are numerous tree and ground squirrels here...along with any other critter known to be living in this area. The wild turkeys (and squirrels) destroy beds looking for the Alfalfa. If I didn't work the alfalfa into the ground, it brought in the rabbits too. I don't know what critters search for the bone meal, but they do and did.
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
Feb 14, 2017 12:19 PM CST
My dogs keep the critters away during the day. Turkeys don't venture long. Chico is a diligent dachshund! But the dirty work
happens at night ; gophers ...and the big predators, coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions,etc. who do their hunting at night - when the dogs are safely in their beds!

We gave the plants some sluggo and some bonemeal yesterday. Rain due again soon.
VOTE!
[Last edited by janwax - Feb 14, 2017 12:21 PM (+)]
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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
Feb 14, 2017 1:34 PM CST
Has anyone ever used Morbloom (0-10-10)? Has it worked will?
My road calls me, lures me west, east, south & north; most roads lead men homewards, my road leads me forth. - John Masefield
Name: Gabriel/Gabe Rivera
Charlotte, NC (Zone 7b)
German imported, Michigan raised
Region: North Carolina Garden Photography Region: United States of America Hostas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Dog Lover
Garden Procrastinator Daylilies Plant and/or Seed Trader Irises Container Gardener Hybridizer
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Cuzz4short
Feb 14, 2017 5:55 PM CST
My concoction is all pellet. Cleaning beds and scratching it in took around 2.5 hours total with a little procrastination.

I forgot to mention for my potted plants I've only used water saluable Scott's Superbloom every 10ish days. It's easier to spread with a dispenser and I don't have to worry about pellets touching rhizomes.

Since it's bloom season I'd use the Morbloom. Post bloom I'd add a little more Nitrogen based fert. to increase fan growth to photosynthesize into more bloom worthy increases next season.
Gimme it and I'll grow it!
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Irises Vegetable Grower Butterflies Region: Wisconsin Keeps Horses Cat Lover
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tveguy3
Feb 14, 2017 6:47 PM CST
By side dressing, I mean I put the fertilizer around the rhizomes, not on it. I don't scratch it in. It will eventually dissolve when it rains. I never put anything like alfalfa pellets or powder that hasn't been broken down or composted, as I worry that it is food for extra bacteria on them. I have quit using compost in my new beds as well. I've had less issues with rot since.
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: daphne
san diego county, ca (Zone 10a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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shizen
Feb 14, 2017 9:47 PM CST
https://www.amazon.com/gp/prod...

i used the above last. about 3 wks ago i sprinkled a monophospate/bonemeal combo, then yesterday i poured the diluted liquid fertilizer on all irises...the last of my fertilizing until they bloom. then will do a diluted fertilizer again, on the ones that are RE's.
Name: Arlyn
Whiteside County, Illinois (Zone 5a)
Irises Beekeeper Region: Illinois Celebrating Gardening: 2015
crowrita1
Feb 15, 2017 8:00 AM CST
If I might, I'd like to add a few words to this thread........in the past, I always used a "mix" of 10-10-10, and 0-45-0...which gave me 5-27-5.....about the time the new growth started, and again, just after bloom. The Re's also got a couple sprays of "foliar" fertilizer every season . I followed the established wisdom that the nitrogen should be applied very sparingly,and that more phosphates meant more bloom. I always checked my soils ph with a "home tester" to keep it in the neutral range ..........and , I had reasonable success, but, every year I had a higher incedence of rot...usually the fungal sorts, but, some bacterial, also.
What I found was......a buildup of phosphates......a low amount of nitrogen......and the ph level was only "close" to optimum....not "exactly" so. I had all the beds checked by the AG service, and found that what I needed to do was add MORE nitrogen, NO phospate, and NO potash, plus, a LOT of lime.....so, my advice is, before you add ANYTHING to the iris beds.....GET YOUR SOIL TESTED !!
Name: Liz
Concord, MA (Zone 6a)
Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Organic Gardener Peonies Vegetable Grower Annuals Composter
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Dachsylady86
Feb 15, 2017 8:11 AM CST
From what I know of soil, the issues with nitrogen are caused when the ph is not correct. When the acidity is too high the nitrogen is not properly absorbed and utilized by the plant so it just builds up and causes rot.
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
Feb 15, 2017 9:52 AM CST
Arlyn - I know to have my soil tested, and in this area the first thing the Extension service asks is have you added lime, and how much? This is because our soil is naturally acidic in this area and lime is so often needed. Garden lime is also said to help prevent rot. I have had to use lime, but think the soil probably needs more than what I have sprinkled on. I am getting things tested again this spring.

Thanks Tom. I had wondered if everyone worked all the fertilizer in. I am careful not to have it near the rhizomes, but did wonder if I could skip the troweling it into the soil around each iris. If I could just rake the soil and spread that would move things along quite a bit.
My road calls me, lures me west, east, south & north; most roads lead men homewards, my road leads me forth. - John Masefield

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