Irises forum→I think I am too old for this.

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Name: Sharon
McGregor IA (Zone 4b)
caitlinsgarden
Jun 9, 2018 1:24 PM CST
Irises just take too much time and energy if I don't use Merit; borers, rot, weeds. I had decided that it would be survival of the fittest for my irises, but this year I am seeing so many of them succumb. My magical "plant in gravel cure" has come to naught as I see they are still rotting, and it is harder to access the rhizomes. I also have many daylilies and other perennials, but at least they seem to live and grow with just basic weeding. Has anyone else grappled with this? Should I try to keep a few favorites? My best years of irises and other flowers had me working nearly 24/7 and enjoying it, but I can't do it anymore.
Name: Timothy
eastern oregon (Zone 7b)
Irises Bulbs Region: United States of America Region: Pacific Northwest Plant and/or Seed Trader Dahlias
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TBMan
Jun 9, 2018 3:05 PM CST
Your health and strength are far more important than growing a lot of iris. I'd say keep a few that you really like and rehome/dispose of the rest. Iris growing should be fun, -- not a drag Smiling
Name: Marilyn, aka "Poly"
South San Francisco Bay Area (Zone 9b)
"The mountains are calling..."
Region: California Daylilies Irises Vegetable Grower Moon Gardener Dog Lover
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Polymerous
Jun 9, 2018 3:08 PM CST
Sorry that I won't be of much help here, but I do sympathize. (I'm getting to the point where I am looking to lower garden maintenance chores, and I'm taking a hard look at my irises and daylilies, many of which are in pots.)

If you do decide to downsize, maybe you should keep your few favorites in mixed perennial beds (might be harder for the borers to find? we don't have borers here, thankfully), or else in pots. (Pots are NOT care-free by any means, but it may be less of a weeding chore than a bed. The downside, of course, is that even with a large 5 gal or so pot, you are only going to be getting a few stalks of anything, and you'll have to divide and re-pot every other year or so.)
Evaluating an iris seedling, hopefully for rebloom
Name: Karen
New Mexico (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Region: Arizona Cactus and Succulents Plant Identifier Plays in the sandbox Greenhouse
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plantmanager
Jun 9, 2018 3:09 PM CST
Yes, downsize and be able to relax and enjoy the ones you do grow. Gardening should be fun.
Handcrafted Coastal Inspired Art SeaMosaics!
(Zone 9b)
Region: California Garden Ideas: Level 1
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UndertheSun
Jun 9, 2018 4:00 PM CST
I agree Once it feels like "work" and brings you down, it's time to downsize.
Name: Leslie
Durham, NC (Zone 8a)
Region: North Carolina Irises Cat Lover Garden Photography Enjoys or suffers hot summers Peonies
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Lestv
Jun 9, 2018 4:03 PM CST
I agree too. Only keep those that bring you joy and are easy to maintain. It can be a whole lot of work if you have a lot of them.
"The chimera is a one time happenstance event where the plant has a senior moment and forgets what it is doing." - Paul Black
Name: Lynn Golovich
Wyandotte, mi (Zone 6b)
"It's never to late to be what you
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LynnG
Jun 10, 2018 5:45 AM CST
Send them to me my sister. I will get them planted.
Name: Sharon
McGregor IA (Zone 4b)
caitlinsgarden
Jun 10, 2018 5:49 AM CST
But maybe not weeded, huh?
Name: Sharon
McGregor IA (Zone 4b)
caitlinsgarden
Jun 10, 2018 5:51 AM CST
I am considering potting up the remnants of some special iris. I suppose I should use dirt dug from an area that doesn't have borers.
Name: Evelyn
Sierra foothills, Northern CA (Zone 8a)
Garden Procrastinator Irises Bee Lover Butterflies Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: California
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evelyninthegarden
Jun 10, 2018 10:54 AM CST
Oh Caitlin ~ I share your experience with enjoying/not enjoying so many garden chores. I have not "caught up", and I am not sure if I ever will. Still, I do "need" to work outside, so what is an old lady to do?

(I wish there was a magic solution for weeds, though!)
"Luck favors the prepared mind." - Thomas Jefferson
Name: Bonnie Sojourner
Harris Brake Lake, Arkansas (Zone 7a)
Magnolia zone
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grannysgarden
Jun 11, 2018 5:59 AM CST
Caitlin, I know I am too old for this. Rolling on the floor laughing And people keep telling me that too. Blinking Thumbs up
Thro' all the tumult and the strife I hear the music ringing; It finds an echo in my soul— How can I keep from singing?
South central PA (Zone 6a)
Irises Region: Pennsylvania
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DaveinPA
Jun 11, 2018 6:37 AM CST
Caitlin, do reduce what is in your place. One elder couple near here has let their iris bed just go with no weeding but after bloom time the area gets mowed like their lawn so no moisture trapping organic residue which harbors the borer eggs gets to stay around the plants. Through the years their blooms have slowly reduced due to their no care approach, but they have little to do. The hardiest will survive! Don't get yourself into a situation of worse health and more pains from a garden of any type.
Name: Sue Petruske
Wisconsin (Zone 5a)
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petruske
Jun 11, 2018 7:05 AM CST
Caitlin, I'm in the same frame of mind that you are. I don't have the iris bore but I do make sure I put down treatment every spring to keep them at bay. It's the constant weeding that is needed because I cannot put mulch down in the iris patches.
I've cut back on the size of the large patches (for two years in a row), but this year I think I'll be cutting way, way back to possibly 1 to 3 rhizomes of each of the cultivars that I keep. Three years ago some of the patches had up to 70 rhizomes. They are so addicting but so much more work than my daylilies.
[Last edited by petruske - Jun 18, 2018 9:02 PM (+)]
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Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
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tveguy3
Jun 11, 2018 7:37 AM CST
I mulched my irises for years before I learned that I shouldn't. Funny I didn't have any rot at all then. I did keep the mulch away from the rhizomes a bit so that they weren't covered. I have a friend near by who still mulches hers, and she isn't bothered by rot either. Shrug!
Voltaire: "Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities,"
Name: Sharon
McGregor IA (Zone 4b)
caitlinsgarden
Jun 11, 2018 10:33 AM CST
What do you mulch with?
Name: Pam
Pennsylvania
Irises Keeps Horses Cat Lover Dog Lover Region: Pennsylvania
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Snork
Jun 11, 2018 10:56 AM CST
I mulch my iris garden also. I have found that if I keep the mulch around the rhizomes, instead of on top of them, it cuts down tremendously on the weeding and does not increase the rot problem. I have an (even) older friend who has gone to raised beds to keep his iris. Just getting the beds up a short distance from ground level cuts way back on the weeds. And the higher the bed are raised the less bending over is involved.

Good Luck in whatever you do!
Name: Sharon
McGregor IA (Zone 4b)
caitlinsgarden
Jun 11, 2018 11:37 AM CST
Pam, what do you mulch with?
Name: Sharon
McGregor IA (Zone 4b)
caitlinsgarden
Jun 11, 2018 12:14 PM CST
As I begin to "save" some of my irises, I am tempted to just bulldoze the area. Most of them have rotted leaves and stems. I have never seen anything this bad. Should I just dig and make a pile of all the weeds and plant matter and dumpster it? One "mush-leaf" had a thin stripey worm, not a borer. We have had rain and more rain lately, and the rot just keeps getting worse. Maybe I should just be looking for good iris and dig with a clean fork and move to another area without planting yet. Maybe douse with bleach and let the clump sit until things dry out a bit. So, instead of looking for the rotted plants I should be looking for anything not rotted. Sorry to be so full of woe.
Name: Evelyn
Sierra foothills, Northern CA (Zone 8a)
Garden Procrastinator Irises Bee Lover Butterflies Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: California
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evelyninthegarden
Jun 11, 2018 12:40 PM CST
caitlinsgarden said: Sorry to be so full of woe.


Caitlin ~ Do what you have to do.
You could put your good favorites into large pots with well-drained soil.

I have my irises in various locations. Pots, raised beds, perennial beds and iris rows. Hopefully I will be able to continue with this for a while. Each year, as I place new orders and get generous boxes from my friends here, I will also be donating extras that will no longer serve, such as ones that are too similar to others that I have, poor performers, and the ones that I least like. Of course, I will have seedlings as well, an will have to be ruthless with them, too.

Good luck! Crossing Fingers! Thumbs up
"Luck favors the prepared mind." - Thomas Jefferson
Name: Marilyn, aka "Poly"
South San Francisco Bay Area (Zone 9b)
"The mountains are calling..."
Region: California Daylilies Irises Vegetable Grower Moon Gardener Dog Lover
Bookworm Garden Photography Birds Pollen collector Garden Procrastinator Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Polymerous
Jun 11, 2018 1:37 PM CST
evelyninthegarden said:Of course, I will have seedlings as well, an will have to be ruthless with them, too.


You may find that "ruthless"ly culling the seedlings is harder than you think.

I would think that building raised beds with well-draining soil (build them in a box if you have to - that's what I've got my daylily seedlings in) would help with the rot - and also make it easier to weed, pull dead leaves, and do other iris maintenance chores.

Pots, surprisingly... while no rot, it's a bit of a pain to weed and dead-leaf, because the pot rim gets in the way.
Evaluating an iris seedling, hopefully for rebloom

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