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CULT: Hot, dry irises

Here in the Phoenix area, my irises have to endure five months of
temperatures above 1000 F.  They start burning back from the tips of the
fans and in July when the temperatures exceed 110, they almost go
dormant.  Mine get water every two or three weeks because we get
irrigation, but I have found that I have less rot if I dont water
between irrigations.  Even the driest, brownest clumps seem to green up
and come back to life when the days get shorter and nights get cooler.
Last year I had a big bed that was two thirds covered with shade screen.
One third didnt get any.  By the end of summer, those that were shaded
looked much better than those that werent.  We rolled up the shade
screen when cooler weather came, and in two months I couldnt tell the
difference in them.  That made me wonder if shade screen on mature
irises in my garden was really worth the effort.  However I think that
in extreme conditions like Donalds, it might be.

I visited Don Shepards iris garden in August a couple of years ago and
found that he had all of his irises shaded with burlap draped over them.
He told me that he didnt water them from the first of June to the
middle of September.  Under the burlap, they all looked nice and green.
Last week I posted a picture of the shade screen arrangement that I use
to protect my young seedlings.  The little ones will die in intense
heat.  In 2002, I lost four fifths of them and decided that I wasnt
going to allow that again; although the survivors are unusually healthy,
vigorous irises.

Francelle Edwards  Glendale, AZ  Zone 9

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