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Re: Martha's Post

From: "Randy C. Meuir" <rmeuir@mail.coin.missouri.edu>

On Thu, 21 Jan 1999, Michael D. Greenfield wrote:

> From: "Michael D. Greenfield" <redear@infinet.com>
> > 
> > From: "Martha Brown" <mbrown@pldi.n 
> Martha Asks:
> As a new Iris devotee I am thinking about developing a new garden area for
> hemerocallis and iris mainly with some other perennials and annuals 
>  I am in NW Oklahoma with hot and dry summers normally and nearly
>  My soil is very sandy with almost no water retention.  

Dear Martha,
I am not a regular "talker" on this forum and I am not an expert, but I
would like to tell you about some of my personal experiences with growing
irises and daylilies in my garden. I do things my own way and experiment
some and as a result I lose some plants. This does not bother me because I
don't like growing plants that have to be pampered. I don't pamper and if
they die I let them die. I don't run around the garden with a knife and a
can of Ajax. One hot, wet summer in St Louis cured me of that. In fact,
last year I let three clumps of very pretty selected TB seedlings rot. I
had won a blue ribbon that Spring with one of them. 

I grow daylilies, Siberians, Louisianas, and various bearded iris in my
garden. Because most of my soil was hard clay and rock that my 5 horse
tiller could rarely penetrate, I had to bring in dump truck loads of top
soil and  compost to make a garden. Clay soil was the only thing available
here but it was a better grade of clay. By necessity almost my entire yard
has become a raised bed.

>  I also plan to use raised beds so I can amend the> soil  
Daylilies, Siberians and Louisianas all like rich soil with lots of
humus. They also like lots of water. I believe all these would do well in
a raised bed with lots of compost added. I think you can plant them side
by side. I am sure some people will disagree with me regarding Louisianas
being grown in a raised bed. This is the opposite of what I was told you
should do with LAs. I think most people consider them to be marsh plants.
I find them to be a very adaptable and believe they will grow just about

I successfully grow the above plants side by side in the same beds. I
think they go well together and provide a longer bloom season in each bed. 
By the way, LAs are much more drought tolerant than is generally believed. 
Martha, you probably already know about Perry Dyer in Oklahoma City being
a good source for LAs. I think LAs are very beautiful flowers with a lot
of variation in color and form. 

You mentioned you wanted to keep the beds as maintenance free as possable
and a good layer of mulch will reduce your labor significantly. I use lots
of mulch to retain moisture,and stop weeds. Of course, it enriches the
soil also. Some of my established beds require almost no weeding. 

You asked about spacing, and my suggestion would be to determine how soon
you want the spaces filled in and plant accordingly. I am sure some will
not agree with this. When I began gardening I was told to plant two feet
apart. I soon learned that I would be looking at a lot of blank spaces for
a couple of years. I usually plant one foot to a little over one foot
apart. When they grow together just push the shovel in your loose soil and
lift some of the clumps out and relocate. This allows you to leave the
ones that look best in that location, and gives you nice clumps to plant

I also grow bearded iris with daylilies. Some bearded iris survive and
some don't. The reason some beardeds do not do well is because the beds
are high in humus and moisture retentive, also because the beds are
mulched and therefore retain more moisture. I also water the beds to get
better performance from all the other perennials. Under these conditions
where most perennials thrive many bearded iris will rot. However, not all
of them rot and I grow the survivors. I also grow some bearded iris in
separate beds but I add lots of humus to all my beds. Because of the
mortality rate I rarely buy new, expensive varieties anymore. This suits
my purpose but for a display garden you may not want to take a chance on
loosing plants. 

In that case, if I were going to grow TBs in the same bed with daylilies I
would try and allow more space between the TBs and DLs. I might circle the
bed with TBs and leave the native sandy soil in the areas of the bed where
they grow, amending the soil in the middle of the bed. If the beds were
sloped I would plant the TBs above the other plants. I almost lost all of
my MTB Bumble Bee Deelite (probably mispelled) to rot because it was in a
spot lower than the rest of the bed. Your sandy well drained soil should
be helpful and I would think the constant winds would also help dry the

I am sorry Martha, I was not intending to write so much. And remember that
I do not know how much experience in growing irises you have had. These
are just my experiences and you may be able to teach me a thing or two.  
Also, I can live with less than perfect bloom from my irises and in a
display garden this may not be acceptable. 

Columbia, MO

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