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CULT: winter care for containerized irises

From: Dennis Kramb <dkramb@tso.cin.ix.net>

Well, you all have permission to say "I told you so."

Last year I decided to grow some Louisianas, arils, and 3/4-bred arilbreds
in containers.  Some of you warned me that I need to sink them underground,
or keep them in a protected cold frame to keep the roots from freezing.
But I decided to try leaving them sitting on top of the ground exposed to
the elements.

Until mid January everything was going fine.  Then we had the ice storm
from heck.  Temperatures plummetted from the 60's to the 0's and stayed
there for about a week.

The results?  Less than 20% of the containerized irises survived.  And some
of those that did survive lost their "parent" fans, and only the new
increases emerging show signs of life, so they definitely won't bloom this

The lesson?  Containers really do have to be protected from severe freezes.
Piling leaves around the containers is not an adequate means of insulation.
They should be sunk into the ground or moved into a protected cold frame or


Those of you wondering why I wanted to grow them in containers, well...good
question!  I intend to move in 1999, so new irises in 1998 I thought if I
planted them in containers it would save me the trouble of digging them
when I moved.   I decided to go with the lousianas and arils because it
would be easier to regulate their water, soil pH, and fertilization than if
they were in the garden with the rest of my irises.

Why didn't I sink the containers or put them in a cold frame?  Too lazy!
The pots are HUGE (25 quarts) and I didn't have resources to buy (or build)
a cold frame big enough.  And there was no way to keep them inside the
house either.

Dennis Kramb; dkramb@tso.cin.ix.net
Cincinnati, Ohio USA; USDA Zone 6; AIS Region 6
Member of AIS, ASI, HIPS, SIGNA, SLI, & Miami Valley Iris Society
Primary Interests: ABs, REBs, LAs, Native Ohio SPEC and SPEC-X hybrids
(Check out my web page at http://www.badbear.com/dkramb/home.html)

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