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CULT: Staking Stalks

Kent Appleberry wrote:

<< Jeff, do you stake those very tall stems? It's often windy here. >>


No, I do not stake the stalks of my irises. Given the number of stalks involved and their density it would be impractical, and the process of staking would probably result in more damage to the stalks than would occur from leaving them unstaked. To give you an idea of the situation, I was so impressed by  the sheer volume of bloom that my irises have produced this year that on Sunday I counted the number of stalks in bloom in three adjacent rows of TB irises. There were 367 blooming stalks in an area of approximately 27 feet by 13 feet. (That is slightly more than one stalk per square foot, including the, admittedly somewhat narrow, paths between the rows, and does not include the stalks that were not yet in bloom).

There have been a number of stalks that have bent or fallen over this year - more than usual, in fact. Failure of stalks to stand up to the weather seems to be more related to differences between specific cultivars than it is to stalk height, however. There have been a few of the tall stalks that have been bent over, but on some of my ABs and MTBs every stalk in the clump has gone down.

At our local iris show this weekend, some of our members excused themselves for not entering more (or in some cases any) stalks in the Horticultural Division because every stalk in their garden had been blown over by strong canyon winds. I am out of line from the path of any canyon winds, and I believe that what has caused stalks to go down in my garden has been the added weight of water on the open blooms and the softening of the ground from the nearly continuous rains we have had during the bloom season so far (it is raining here as I am typing this message). [For those who may not be familiar with the phenomenon of canyon winds, this is a highly localized effect felt within a few miles to the west of the mouths of the major canyons in the Wasatch Mountains due to the funneling of air masses through said canyons when there is a zone of low pressure directly over us and a high pressure zone immediately to the east. These winds can easily reach hurricane force and topple high profile
 vehicles (18-wheelers, campers) on I-15, which runs through northern Utah parallel to the mountains and for much of the way only about 1 to 3 miles from their base.] 

Jeff Walters
in northern Utah
(USDA Zone 4)

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