OT-BIO: Kent Appleberry in Utah
Kent, first I want to welcome you to this list. It has an astounding amount
of information that may be useful to you.
In your area, Borers are not known to be a problem. You should be able to
ignore the issue. As to mulch, you would be well advised definitely to use
a mulch, and to cover your rhizomes with at least a half-inch or so mulch or
mulch plus light-textured (silt or sandy) soil. I assume your July-early
August temps can be well over 100 at times. Am I correct? At your
elevation, you may not get this high, but solar intensity is going to be
Your biggest problem will be Botrytis which is an infection that begins in
the fall but is not visible to the gardener until spring. If you see this,
dig the plant and get the soil that was immediately around the plant out and
discard it a long ways from where you intend to plant.
The surviving parts of the clump may give you a few pieces, usually small,
that are free of the infection. You can treat these with a fungicide and
replant in fresh soil.
With your extreme light intesity, very clear, dry air and sharp differences
in seasons, day to night temperature changes and all, your irises will
mostly thrive with exuberance. They love it. You may find that SDB irises
(Standard Dwarf) will grow especially well.
When you irrigate, you can use overhead sprinkling with impunity as the time
it takes the plants to dry above ground is very short if your climate is
typical of anywhere else in Utah and Idaho with which I am familiar. You
also have plenty of native calcium, I suspect, but Gypsum will help you and
supply both Ca and sulfate nutrients, neutralize your pH (whether it is
either acidic or alkaline) and can be applied liberally. It is best worked
in before you plant, however.
At 6000 feet elevation, your season would be expected to be short and fast.
Spurias will probably thrive, but some other types won't tolerate what you
As to Utah growers, Tell Muhlestein, whom you mentioned, sadly died around
1978. He was a wonderful source of information and produced some great
irises. He was in Provo, then later Orem.
Melba Hamblen was in northern Utah, in Roy. She also has died, but has left
a wonderful legacy in her irises, none of which are still in commerce to the
best of my knowledge, but descendents from them are legion.
Jeff Walters will be a goldmine of information.
As time goes on, you are likely to have many questions. Please feel free to
ask, even ones you think trivial. No questions are "bad" if one needs to
know the answer.
Best to you and yours in your iris venture!
Neil Mogensen z 7 Reg 4 western NC mountains (but formerly z 6, SW
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