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Re: Cult:Zone & digging questions

From: John I Jones <jijones@ix.netcom.com>

Robert & Keri Cathey wrote:
> 2nd question:  what is the proper and official rule for the time frame
> for digging rhizomes and rearranging beds?  In my grandmother's day, you
> were supposed to do that right after the first good rain after they quit
> blooming.  I DESPERATELY need to build up a few beds that I put in two
> years ago, but would the winter roots already be developed at this time
> in Oklahoma?  I realize that this is an extremely basic question for
> such a knowledgeable group, but, hey, I've embarrassed myself before,
> and will probably do it again.  <big grin>  So - what's the consensus?

I don't think I saw a response to this part of your post, but even though I am
not in a similar environment here goes...

Current rule of thumb (ROT) for digging irises is to wait 6-8 weeks after
bloom to allow them to rebuild strength for next season's growth. They are
probably well past that cut off for you. The second ROT is to plant them early
enough to be able to establish good root systems. You probably still have time
for that. 

My approach would be to dig them now, trim the leaves to 6-8" and the roots to
4" (do not shave them off) and put them immediately in pots. That way the
roots will continue to grow, and the plant will start building for the winter.
Keep them out of the hot afternoon sun (morning would be fine). If you don;'t
pot them right away they will go dormant and take longer to re-establish root
systems when you get them back in the ground. Then you can take your time
preparing your beds because the iris are happily growing away in the pots.

Potting them may sound like more work, but in my experience, when the time
comes to un-pot them and put them in the ground, it is much easier than
planting rzs directly in the ground. Just dig a hole, up end the pot, and plop
the new root ball into the hole. Fill in, tamp and you are done. No messing
with the roots while you are all bent over etc.

Just my opinion.

John                     | "There be dragons here"
                         |  Annotation used by ancient cartographers
                         |  to indicate the edge of the known world.

USDA zone 8/9 (coastal, bay) 
Fremont, California, USA 
Visit my website at:

President, Westbay Iris Society
Director, Region 14 of the AIS

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