Irises forum: Broken off irises

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Oregon's high desert (Zone 6a)
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LynnDel
May 27, 2017 9:39 AM CST
What is breaking my irises?

For the second day in a row, a blossom on one of my 20-some varieties of irises is broken off and lying on the ground. It looks broken, not chewed. The other irises very nearby are not harmed, only this variety, so I doubt it's the clumsiness of my blind beagle or some other critter doing it, but I wonder about birds, perhaps.

I had an automatic sprinkler that was turning on at night (now turned off), and I wonder if the weight of the water in the heavy heads on this iris, plus the wind that we had, would make this particular one break off. Is that possible? Do some varieties have a weaker stem than others?

This is "Square Dance" and is the first time it's bloomed for me.

Thumb of 2017-05-27/LynnDel/b6ffac

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 27, 2017 11:03 AM CST
That is very odd, Lynn. I have had stalks broken over by storm winds and hail but never just cleanly snapped off. I cant see why a bird would go to the trouble to break an iris off. Birds do not bother irises usually. Look around near the soil surface for some type of cutting bug/worm/insect. I know cut worms can take a tomato plant off at the ground overnight with a clean looking cut but I have never heard of them touching an iris. You don't have mischievous neighbor kids do you?

By the way, welcome to the iris forum. Welcome! Smiling

I hope someone on here has a good idea what is doing this to your irises. It is troubling.
Who plants a seed beneath the sod and waits for growth believes in God. ~~Unknown
Oregon's high desert (Zone 6a)
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LynnDel
May 27, 2017 1:57 PM CST
Thank you for your reply!

No neighborhood kids here at all. We have deer around us, but the yard is fenced and keeps them out, and besides that, deer don't bother irises -- except for fawns when they are first learning what is and is not edible. I haven't seen any deer hoof prints around the garden.

The only critter in the yard is a little cottontail I need to chase off, but it seems he'd be too small to nip off an iris two feet above his head.

I'll have to check for worms or insects. If they cut it off, it seems there would be signs of them munching on the stem, which there isn't.

(Zone 9b)
Region: California
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UndertheSun
May 27, 2017 2:13 PM CST
I wish my deer didn't bother irises. Glare

I got a few snapped off blooms this year (on strong stalks) from the strong winds and from critters. The weaker stalks blew over, fell over, or just snapped off.
Oregon's high desert (Zone 6a)
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LynnDel
May 27, 2017 2:54 PM CST
That is interesting, Underthesun. It must be the wind, from what you say. I'm sorry to hear your irises are not deer proof there.
Name: Mary Ann
Kentucky
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: United States of America Hostas Hummingbirder Daylilies Birds
Irises Keeps Horses Region: Kentucky Farmer Container Gardener Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Muddymitts
May 27, 2017 7:36 PM CST
I have lost a lot of bloom stalks from wind -- clean breaks like you're describing. I'm thinking you have wind damage.

Welcome to the Iris forums, BTW!!! Green Grin!
Thoughts become things -- choose the good ones. (www.tut.com)
Oregon's high desert (Zone 6a)
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LynnDel
May 27, 2017 8:44 PM CST
Thank you, Muddymitts! I've been here a few hours and love it already.
Name: Robin
Melbourne, Australia (Zone 10b)
Region: Australia Irises Garden Photography Cat Lover Seed Starter
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Totally_Amazing
May 28, 2017 12:25 AM CST
Welcome! Lynn
I've had cockatoos pull the flowers off my irises. I saw it happen.

Thumb of 2016-08-07/Totally_Amazing/629c13

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I think any large bird could do it.
(Zone 9b)
Region: California
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UndertheSun
May 28, 2017 2:26 PM CST
I forgot to say...Welcome Lynn! Welcome!

Robin, do you want to trade some wild turkeys for some cockatoos? Big Grin I say that now, but they are so cute.
Name: Robin
Melbourne, Australia (Zone 10b)
Region: Australia Irises Garden Photography Cat Lover Seed Starter
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Totally_Amazing
May 28, 2017 5:19 PM CST
Ummm.... No Thanks Rob. Hilarious! I have only ever lost one iris to cockatoos so it's hardly a threat. Your baby turkeys are cute but so are the baby ducklings that live in my local creek.
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 30, 2017 9:26 AM CST
Oz certainly has loads of cockatoos. There were well represented in the Melbourne parks and the botanical garden in Sydney when I was last there. They seem to be increasing in numbers?

Smart choice not to take the turkeys! Doubt the cockatoos roll in the dirt and knock things flat like turkeys do.
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
May 30, 2017 3:15 PM CST
I've had several "blossoms on the ground" over the last few days, too. Nice, freshly opened ones,too ! On close inspection......they rotted off", or at least "started to rot", and then the wind took them off.The spathes are holding water....from days and days of rain, and when the temps went up.....the blooms went down, I guess Crying
South central PA (Zone 6a)
Irises Region: Pennsylvania
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DaveinPA
May 30, 2017 3:56 PM CST
Welcome Lynn,
Some good advice as usual!
Note that the cutworm damage would be close to the ground level.
There was a time when hybridizers went for large/huge blossoms but forgot that stems must be stronger to hold them up, especially when getting weighed down with water. Most now are strong enough, as are the older ones with smaller blossoms. The rabbits here will chomp small newly planted trees anywhere from 3 to 15" above the ground; they seem to just nip and taste then leave the damage. Pepper plants will be left as small stumps about an inch tall as they are food to them. Never saw them go after iris.
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 31, 2017 2:38 AM CST
I have lost 5 bloom stalks to slugs so far this year. Some are chewed off completely and others just hang on by a few threads. So frustrating, especially when it happens to the first ever bloom stalk on a new iris. Grumbling
You don't know if it will grow until you try!
Name: Robin
Melbourne, Australia (Zone 10b)
Region: Australia Irises Garden Photography Cat Lover Seed Starter
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Totally_Amazing
May 31, 2017 4:35 AM CST
I hate slugs Thumbs down
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 31, 2017 4:38 AM CST
I'm not too fond of them myself... Glare
You don't know if it will grow until you try!
Oregon's high desert (Zone 6a)
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LynnDel
May 31, 2017 1:36 PM CST
The breaks hadn't looked as if there was any rot; everything looked crisp and green, with a clean, sharp break. I couldn't find the place on the plant where the flowers broke off, however -- must have been hidden by the lower flower parts still attached to the stem.

We had a good rain yesterday, which is strange for the desert, and I went out and shook the one iris plant that had lost two blossoms. It was amazing how much water came out when I shook it! I'm thinking that the flowers broke because they got too heavy when containing my sprinkler water. Not that I'm an expert or anything...
[Last edited by LynnDel - May 31, 2017 3:25 PM (+)]
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Name: Charlotte
Salt Lake City, Utah (Zone 6b)
genealogist specializing in French
Irises Region: Utah Hostas Bulbs Heucheras
cbunny41
May 31, 2017 2:42 PM CST
@IrisLilli Can you get diotomaceous earth there? It is supposed to cause cuts on Slugs etc. If it gets wet you do have to put down more. Apparently crushed eggshells would do the same.
South central PA (Zone 6a)
Irises Region: Pennsylvania
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DaveinPA
May 31, 2017 3:40 PM CST
While cutting stalks today I noticed quite a few were very brittle leading them to break easily, so wind or little critters pushing on them could snap them readily. Seemed to happen on the larger stalks, not any of the thin ones.
Slugs like nightly beer in a shallow dish; just have to replace it each night. No need to get the good stuff as they are not fussy.
Name: Arlyn
Whiteside County, Illinois (Zone 5a)
Irises Beekeeper Region: Illinois Celebrating Gardening: 2015
crowrita1
May 31, 2017 4:21 PM CST
Shrug! You never know, Dave, maybe you'd get more slugs with something imported ?!! Sticking tongue out

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