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Longevity of dry rhizomes (was Spring planting bearded-why not?)

  • To: Multiple recipients of list <iris-l@rt66.com>
  • Subject: Longevity of dry rhizomes (was Spring planting bearded-why not?)
  • From: storey@aristotle.net (J. Michael, Celia or Ben Storey)
  • Date: Fri, 20 Feb 1998 10:45:47 -0700 (MST)

>It's possible but I would be very surprised if a dried rhizome from last
>year would still be alive.  This might be a case in which you would want to
>try planting it immediately in a pot. Let us know the results.  Might be a
>new record for survival out of the ground!
Bill, I think with the TBs, especially the older plants, those rhizomes are
known to survive more than two years out of the ground. A local nurseryman
once told me four years was the outer limit, but I don't know how credible
his information was.

We are right to urge people to plant ordered rootstock as soon as possible.
Hybrids may be less sturdy than the historic reputation, and size of
rhizome might also matter. I think I killed a dried rhizome two years ago
by leaving it out of the ground too long, and I know I killed an SDB that
way. Still, again and again one hears tales of that old reputation being
borne out.

I have an uneducated theory that this ability to survive long dormancies
explains the legendary Muslim practice of carrying Iris albicans to plant
on fallen comrades' graves. Yes, there were traditional spiritual
associations for the plant, but more importantly, the rootstock "traveled"
well. They could count on it to perform after many months out of the

Little Rock, Arkansas, USDA Zone 7b
257 feet above sea level,
average rainfall about 50 inches (more than 60" in '97)
average relative humidity (at 6 a.m.) 84%.
moderate winters, hot summers ... but lots of seesaw action in all seasons

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