Irises forum: HELP!! I have a garden of bearded irises that are not blooming!

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Gailbeth
May 10, 2017 5:08 AM CST
I am at my wit's end about these plants and am asking for help from some experts...you! Last year, I transplanted over 20 nicely growing plants, separating them first so I only used the new growth. They had been in a garden where they did not get lots of sun, so I did not have much bloom. My new garden has good sun; I planted them all at the higher end to ensure good drainage. The plants have grown and grown, and as spring arrived here in Western North Carolina after a mild winter, they all looked great and I was anticipating a wonderful bloom. But...out of 22 plants, only 5 have bloomed. Two of the plants that did bloom had flowers I had never planted! At this point, I am wondering if I should just dig them up and replace them because I don't anticipate seeing any more blooms this year...or any year! As you can probably tell, I am very discouraged. Sighing!
Name: Joshua
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Australis
May 10, 2017 5:25 AM CST

Plants Admin

It's not unreasonable to have plants skip their first season after transplanting (quite a number of mine did). I would certainly wait another year to see how they go.

I'm sure others can give more specific advice to your conditions.
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Name: Bonnie Sojourner
Harris Brake Lake, Arkansas (Zone 7a)
Magnolia zone
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grannysgarden
May 10, 2017 5:53 AM CST
Joshua is right. Many irises do not bloom the first year after they have been moved. Also, if you planted only 'new growth' your rhizomes may have been first year rhizomes and needed another year to set a bloom. As to them being 'not the flowers I had planted', if they were in a neglected garden, and the seed pods had not been taken off the bloom stalks after spring bloom, you may have a 'seedling' in your iris bed now. Seedlings carry a lot of their parents traits but are uniquely their own iris. If these that you do not recognize are not desirable irises I suggest you pull them out and discard them now as you can see which ones they are. I would definitely give the irises another year before getting too discouraged. Smiling
Who plants a seed beneath the sod and waits for growth believes in God. ~~Unknown
Name: Bonnie Sojourner
Harris Brake Lake, Arkansas (Zone 7a)
Magnolia zone
Region: United States of America Region: Arkansas Master Gardener: Arkansas Irises Plant and/or Seed Trader Moon Gardener
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grannysgarden
May 10, 2017 5:54 AM CST
I forgot to say Hello and welcome to the iris forum, Gailbeth. Welcome! Smiling
Who plants a seed beneath the sod and waits for growth believes in God. ~~Unknown
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
May 10, 2017 6:01 AM CST
Joshua is right, it is perfectly normal for iris to not bloom their first year after being moved. Also, while we had a mild winter, we had some hard freezes this spring. That puts some stress on the iris that may keep them from blooming.

Now a few questions: did you fertilize them when you replanted them?

Are the rhizomes exposed? They aren't covered in mulch or anything? That would decrease bloom because the rhizome needs sun for energy to grow and put up stalks.

Not sure what you mean by the ones that bloomed were flowers you never planted? One possibility would be that you have seedlings from your iris. Do you remember seeing any seed pods over the years? Seedlings would look different from their parent iris.
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
May 10, 2017 6:03 AM CST
Cross posted with Bonnie!
Welcome! too!!
My road calls me, lures me west, east, south & north; most roads lead men homewards, my road leads me forth. - John Masefield
Name: Robin
Melbourne, Australia (Zone 10b)
Region: Australia Irises Garden Photography
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Totally_Amazing
May 10, 2017 6:05 AM CST
Hello Gailbeth and Welcome! to the iris forum,

There are several factors that may have reduced your blooms.

Firstly, irises don't die after flowering. They will go dormant in winter and then bloom again next spring. Don't throw them away.

Secondly, the ratio of nutrients in the soil may be a factor. I am not an expert in soil by a long run but after doing a little research and googling I have read that Nitrogen encourages leaf growth, Phosphorus encourages root development and Potassium encourages fruiting and flowering. The ratio of these 3 nutrients to each other can affect flower production. For example, too much nitrogen may encourage leaf growth at the expense of flower production. If you wish look into this further, run a google on soil nutrients.

Thirdly, I have heard that irises don't always flower the first year after they have been transplanted and they may take a year to settle in. This is more likely to occur if they were transplanted at the wrong time of year. Iris vendors mention that the best time to transplant irises is soon after flowering.

Lastly, irises need plenty of sunshine to flower. It sounds like your irises are getting plenty of sunshine.

I would recommend browsing the iris vendor websites for your country and seeing what they say about caring for irises. The topmost thread in this iris forum has a list of iris vendors and their websites. The fact that you have healthy foliage suggests that your irises are healthy.

Good Luck Crossing Fingers!
Name: Lilli
Copenhagen, Denmark, EU
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IrisLilli
May 10, 2017 6:34 AM CST
Welcome! to the iris forum, Gailbeth! Hurray!

I agree with everyone else - wait a year or two and see what happens! Crossing Fingers! Crossing Fingers! Crossing Fingers!
You don't know if it will grow until you try!
Name: Barbara
Northern CA (Zone 9a)
Region: California Cat Lover Irises Enjoys or suffers hot summers Dog Lover
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iciris
May 10, 2017 7:25 AM CST
Another Welcome! to the iris forum, Gailbeth!

The other thing that no one mentioned is where did you buy your iris? Did you buy them from a big box store (Home Depot, Lowe's...) if so, what you get is often not what is pictured on the package. That may explain why they are not what you planted.

Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
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tveguy3
May 10, 2017 8:09 AM CST
Welcome! Gailbeth, A lot of good reasons given here by others. Still some other variables could be related to time of transplant. If transplanted too late they my not have had time to re-establish enough to bloom. Also I had a lot of rot in the main rhizomes this year with newly planted ones, so they won't bloom this year, but there are increases for future years. My growing season is shorter then yours, so on a good year I can expect about half of the newly planted ones to bloom that first year. This year it won't be any where near that due to the rot. If I've learned anything by growing plants, it's that I have to be patient. Smiling
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Name: Celia
West Valley City, Utah (Zone 7a)
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Zencat
May 10, 2017 9:49 AM CST
I'm going to just 'ditto' to what everyone has said and add my Welcome!
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UndertheSun
May 10, 2017 10:33 AM CST
Welcome Gailbeth! Welcome!

I had a few irises bloom for the first time this year and they were planted 3 years ago. Everything else around them bloomed fine every year, but these just needed a little more time. It was worth the wait, because those 3 year old clumps put on quite a show.
Name: Barbara
Northern CA (Zone 9a)
Region: California Cat Lover Irises Enjoys or suffers hot summers Dog Lover
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iciris
May 10, 2017 10:43 AM CST
Yep, I did too, and it turned out to be a NO ID. But a pretty NO ID.
Name: Marilyn
Central California (Zone 9b)
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Moiris
May 10, 2017 11:09 AM CST
Welcome Gailbeth!

You have received a lot of good information. I would only add that the fertilizer you use has three numbers on it to tell you the relative proportions of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. The first number is the nitrogen. This number should be equal or close to the other two numbers. I use a fertilizer that is 10-10-10. If you use one that has a high amount of nitrogen (the first number) then as mentioned above you will be encouraging the growth of lush green leaves at the expense of producing flowers.
Name: Lilli
Copenhagen, Denmark, EU
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IrisLilli
May 10, 2017 12:06 PM CST
Not to mention that high amounts of nitrogen (N) can induce rot in bearded irises. Crying
You don't know if it will grow until you try!
Name: Mary
Tennessee (Zone 7a)
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urania1
May 10, 2017 1:04 PM CST
Totally_Amazing said: Iris vendors mention that the best time to transplant irises is soon after flowering.


Right after? Which means now for me? I need to redo a bed that I redid last year. I stupidly neglected to factor in heights.
Name: daphne
san diego county, ca (Zone 10a)
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shizen
May 10, 2017 1:18 PM CST
@gailbeth

Welcome!


i'm afraid i don't have more information to add. the information that has been posted thusfar, is sound and a good foundation . my only suggestion is that you go back read some of the older posts in this forum, and go to several of the "growers' websites". some of them have great articles on iris cultivation. the winterberry iris website, comes to mind. good luck!
[Last edited by shizen - May 10, 2017 1:34 PM (+)]
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Name: Lilli
Copenhagen, Denmark, EU
Irises Roses Bulbs Hellebores Foliage Fan Cottage Gardener
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Seed Starter Winter Sowing Bee Lover Dog Lover Region: Europe
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IrisLilli
May 11, 2017 2:03 AM CST
Mary, I think the best time to divide irises would depend on your zone?
You don't know if it will grow until you try!
Name: Bonnie Sojourner
Harris Brake Lake, Arkansas (Zone 7a)
Magnolia zone
Region: United States of America Region: Arkansas Master Gardener: Arkansas Irises Plant and/or Seed Trader Moon Gardener
Garden Ideas: Master Level Dragonflies Bulbs Garden Art Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Gardens in Buckets
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grannysgarden
May 11, 2017 3:47 AM CST
I would say that the time to divide in any zone depends on bloom time. In other words after the irises are through with their normal spring bloom season. I do not divide immediately after bloom season here, which is usually March thru April with a few before and after. Normally I wait until June as this gives the irises enough time to rebuild some nutrients after they bloom. Also, in late June, due to the heat, the bearded irises here go dormant ~ they just sit and stare at me as if to say 'it's too dang hot to grow'. This is a good time for me to disturb them. Smiling
Who plants a seed beneath the sod and waits for growth believes in God. ~~Unknown

Gailbeth
May 13, 2017 5:56 AM CST
Thank you so much for all your assistance. I will be patient, fertilize, and wait until next year. If I get nothing, then I will shake things up! Group hug

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