Irises forum: Iris in the desert?

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KatyLLL
Jul 26, 2017 2:26 PM CST
I just joined. I am very worried about my iris. I think that it is too hot and dry in my zone (6b-- 34.4048° N, 103.2052° W approximately) to have Iris. They are light green, and flopped over. I have not watered them every day. I think I need a shade cloth over them, but they also will not bloom when I had them under a tree (I moved them at the start of the summer). It is either too sunny, or too shady. Are there any successful desert iris growers who can steer me in the right direction? Thanks
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Irises Vegetable Grower Butterflies Region: Wisconsin Keeps Horses Cat Lover
Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry Daylilies Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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tveguy3
Jul 26, 2017 5:03 PM CST
There was another thread asking this question a while back, here was something I wrote.
https://garden.org/thread/view...
hope that helps. 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
Name: Charlotte
Salt Lake City, Utah (Zone 6b)
genealogist specializing in French
Irises Region: Utah Hostas Bulbs Heucheras
cbunny41
Jul 26, 2017 6:00 PM CST
Welcome! KatyLLL

When you first transplanted, did you water frequently for at least two-three weeks? Has new foliage grown? If you didn't cut the old foliage back before transplanting, that may explain the flopping. Have you checked to see if they are rooted in? I am in 6b-7a in Salt Lake City and Utah is the second driest state and my iris do very well. Did you add organic matter before planting?
Name: Richard
Joshua Tree (Zone 9a)
Birds Irises Ponds Orchids
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creativeclover
Jul 26, 2017 7:20 PM CST
Hi KatyLLL, welcome. Which city are you located? Im located near Palm Springs, and summers here are scorchers. Heat does affect mine, but water frequently and tfy to get them some shade in the hottest part m of the day and they make it.
Name: Barbara
Northern CA (Zone 9a)
Region: California Cat Lover Irises Enjoys or suffers hot summers Dog Lover
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iciris
Jul 26, 2017 8:54 PM CST
Welcome! Katy to the iris forum.
It gets really hot here too. During the drought I was only able to watered my iris a very little bit. Our weather has been 100 to 115 for weeks now, plus the next 10 days they are calling for 103 to 110. Thumbs down anyway the last few years I didn't hardly loose any irises. I noticed the other day 'some' of my iris fans are turning a lighter color of green. I think they might be getting a little sunburnt in our intense heat. Shrug! these iris are in full sun.
• “Whoever said, ‘Do something right and you won’t have to do it again’ never weeded a garden.” – Anonymous
South central PA (Zone 6a)
Irises Region: Pennsylvania
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DaveinPA
Jul 27, 2017 8:25 AM CST
Welcome Katy.
Lots of growers in your climate to give experiential advice. Adding organic matter to the soil can help hold what little moisture is present. Also be sure to have the rhizomes not exposed to the sun by having maybe a half inch of soil over them, as would be necessary in colder areas with clay soil especially.
Name: Elsa
Las Cruces, New Mexico (Zone 8a)
Region: New Mexico Region: United States of America Irises Region: Southwest Gardening Dog Lover
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GreenIris
Aug 5, 2017 9:58 AM CST
Hi Katy: Welcome! I grow Irises in the desert and have had little problem. I grow them in Zone 7 or 8 (depending on what map I check). I may not always grow them as hardily as some places, for instance I have never grown a 4 and 5 foot iris like some of these folks; but they definitely grow, bloom and bring delight each Spring. I would read up on what the Iris Societies in your region have to say. And also I have gained an enormous amount of info on this site There are some advantages to growing in the desert...The dry heat keeps the rot problems down (though I have had a few succumb to it) and we don't have as many buggies that like to eat Irises. The only thing I do notice, and it may be partly due to my own lack of experience, is that my Irises basically go through 2 Dormancies: One in Winter and One in June. We have freezing temps in Winter so that usually gets them and we have 100 plus temps for approx. 20 days in June and that gets them too. But they always start growing again in early Spring and late Summer. In June, many of my irises do start getting brown tipped leaves and also some turn light green/yellow and flop. I just keep watering them regularly and they almost always return. I have probably nly lost 2 in 5 years because of heat. But sometimes they "Go Underground" (No green showing). I always worry about those but they almost always return. They grow Irises in Phoenix and Tucson, and have known Hybrdizers there so their Iris sites may have some good info as well. It's been awhile but I have reviewed their growing tips before for tips on growing in heat.

KatyLLL
Sep 23, 2017 11:02 AM CST
Hi everyone, thanks. I think all of these are good answers. The tip about covering the rhizome is good too. I have let them go a season where they are to try to judge the problem. It is getting into cool weather now and they are strong and straight through many have definitely taken a beating. I will do things differently next season. I am going to tent them with a bit of shade cloth, and put in a misting system. The sun is totally necessary since they do not bloom under the tree, but since they mainly bloom in spring anyway (when it is cool) they can spend the summer under a shade cloth. I am in New Mexico near Texas, and the weather in the summer can be brutal. I used to live in Albuquerque, in the mountains, and it was cooler there. My father had iris all over the front yard. Just think of an entire front yard with no grass and nothing but iris. It was glorious.

Sorry for taking such a long time to answer. I hope to be a bit more active on this site in the future.
Name: daphne
san diego county, ca (Zone 10a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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shizen
Sep 23, 2017 9:59 PM CST
if i haven't said welcome already, welcome katylll!

i live in the desert, too, coastal desert. i am not (edited to add) too sure about misting; iris don't like it when the temperatures are high, and there's high humidity. i may be wrong. perhaps some of our other members can weigh in here?

i have been advised by fellow forum members, to water in the cool of the evening to avoid having water on the irises during the heat of the day. watering in the evening gives the soil a chance to cool down overnight...thus avoiding conditions that tend to harbor rot.

i've only had 1 rot (with a plant that died), and the potted iris frequently got watered during the day. i now religiously water after 4 when the heat starts cooling down. (i had one other case of rot but it was because of a hole one the top of a rhizome probably caused by a chewing insect that damaged it. i did surgery and treated it w/comet, and it's doing fine.)
[Last edited by shizen - Sep 24, 2017 11:40 AM (+)]
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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
Sep 24, 2017 5:28 AM CST
Hi Katy. Irises may develop leaf spot if the leaves are wet frequently. It is an eye-sore and even though I have not lost an iris due to leaf spot it may weaken the plant if excessive. I would not recommend the mist system. I think sun barriers may work in your area. I have some irises that only get morning and evening sun and they do well. If you find that the irises are not blooming due to lack of direct sunlight just shade them from the afternoon and late day sun. 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
Sep 24, 2017 7:24 AM CST
Welcome! Katy! I agree that a misting system might cause new problems, but a shade cloth could be really helpful. I live in the south with lots of humidity, so I can say that too much water makes them quite unhappy!
My road calls me, lures me west, east, south & north; most roads lead men homewards, my road leads me forth. - John Masefield
Name: Jane H.
Kentucky (Zone 6b)
Irises Birds Region: United States of America Region: Kentucky Clematis
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janielouy
Sep 24, 2017 5:14 PM CST
I was at Region 7 fall meeting this weekend and our speaker was Dell Perry who is an expert on arils and arilbreds (and hot desert-like conditions) but grows many TBs. Her talk was very interesting. She did mention that many of the iris in the desert climate do seem to disappear as a survival technique. Maybe you should try some arilbreds that are used to desert conditions. They are unusual and she grows them in Plano, TX.
I have no experience with either variety but thought you might like them and they would grow in your area.
Name: Robin
Melbourne, Australia (Zone 10b)
Region: Australia Irises Garden Photography Cat Lover Seed Starter
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Totally_Amazing
Sep 24, 2017 9:21 PM CST
My climate is similar to Daphne and my soil is clay. If the weather is hot and it hasn't rained, I give my irises a light water at night.

Do you have a photo of your floppy irises? I will see if I can find a decent photo of mine during the heat of summer looking their worst.

Name: Robin
Melbourne, Australia (Zone 10b)
Region: Australia Irises Garden Photography Cat Lover Seed Starter
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Totally_Amazing
Sep 26, 2017 11:41 PM CST
This is what my irises look like near the start of autumn which is pretty much at their worst
Thumb of 2017-09-27/Totally_Amazing/402d76
Thumb of 2017-09-27/Totally_Amazing/33d3cb
The old leaves flop over and go brown at the tips.
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
Sep 27, 2017 4:09 AM CST
That does look sad, but at least you know they will bounce right back when the new season starts. Thumbs up

Mine never flop over like that, but most of the foliage dies back when it get colder this time of year and they look very sad until the new growth starts in spring.
You don't know if it will grow until you try!
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
Sep 28, 2017 7:52 AM CST
Some of mine flop like that too in late summer. I sometimes cut the leaves back when they flop on other iris nearby, or if they are lying on the ground. I leave them about a foot long so they can still gather energy, but being shorter they don't get all soggy on the ground after a rain.
My road calls me, lures me west, east, south & north; most roads lead men homewards, my road leads me forth. - John Masefield

KatyLLL
Sep 30, 2017 8:06 AM CST
Hi, I may as well just use your picture as mine, Totally_Amazing. The ones I have in pots and tubs seem to be doing better than those in the ground. I religiously augmented the soil.

It is very funny, but I have a little fake "pond" (a horse trough) under a tree of various colored Louisiana Iris in the water-- nasty water too, if I may add with a lot of biomass. And they are growing like a house-a-fire if you know what I mean. Beautiful blooms-- AND in the shade of the tree. I have the "black-gamecock" which is a dark blue, and some pink, and white. They have rhizomes as big as catcher's mitts.

My "collection" only includes a few higher priced "fancy" iris, and is mainly typical (classic) white, yellow, and blue iris. (All No-ID).

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
Oct 1, 2017 7:07 AM CST
Sounds lovely, Katy. Do you have any pictures? I'm all ears!
You don't know if it will grow until you try!

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