In a message dated 7/6/2004 6:37:07 PM Central Daylight Time, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
The Iris I already had that are in a flower bed of more organic soil have very green leaves with no spotting or anything.
You already know a great deal about what is best for growing under your conditions. I would start by attempting to mimic the soil in the beds in which your already established irises are doing so well.
Healthy vigorous plants usually produce superior stalks and blooms to those retarded by lack of plant necessities; light, moisture, nutrients. The availability of the latter two for your plants is influenced by soil composition and tilth. The objective is to have soil that roots may easily penetrate while producing numerous filament roots to allow the uptake of those nutrients to fill the plants needs.
Fear of the addition/inclusion of organic matter in garden soils have been largely overstated in the iris community as has advice to withhold essential plant nutrients. The benefits of their inclusion far outweigh any negative effects in my climate. Those closer to your location perhaps can offer more specific advice for your latitude. You do need to include a general area in your post to receive more specific advice.
"We must start by defining the end we ultimately wish to accomplish. One assumes we all want to create good garden soil. To accomplish this we must understand what is in the soil we are starting with and what end composition is desirable. We find precious little information concerning ideal soils for irises. This results primarily from the "ideal" depending on rainfall and it's frequency. "Ideal" varies from area to area. But we might start with the following profile for a good garden soil with some increase in the sand content as the end objective in beds located in areas receiving more rain than less blessed parts of the iris world. We want to wind up with a composition of roughly equal components of sand, silt, clay and organic matter. This is a widely accepted profile for the composition of a good garden soil." - Quote from The Reblooming Iris Recorder.
As a point in passing, the consensus in that publication seems to be that to achieve the highest propensity for rebloom. irises should be kept growing through the warmer months rather than allowed to go dormant from lack of moisture.
Most people making a living growing irises prefer a soil of balanced to somewhat alkaline pH. That irises will grow reasonably well in pH ranges from about 6.5 to 8 is not often disputed. My personal preference is about 7.5.
Here my greatest losses occure in first year plantings that originated outside my area regardless of what precautions/methods I use. Do not let such losses discourage you. On occasion these losses have exceeded 15% with a second planting of the same varieties having none at all. Dried or yellowed foliage on plants I receive is of little concern here. They bounce back in time and usually bloom. I do not have enough information to assess the spot issues you mention.
I rarely water new plantings here, knowing I will receive rain within a couple of weeks and not doing so generally forces the rhizome to begin producing anchoring roots in search of moisture. In those instances where soil temps are so high as to incourage continuing dormancy I usually just hold the the rhizome or place it in a shaded pot until the temps are more favorable.
You will likely receive as much differing advice as there are people growin' irises..... and as stated earlier, you already have some great experience and results on which to rely from your existing bed. Trust in the force and may the force be with you. No one attempting to grow 400 irises is considered a newby here........
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