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CULT: Fertilizing (was Newbie needing help...)

  • Subject: CULT: Fertilizing (was Newbie needing help...)
  • From: "John Bruce" <jbruce1@cinci.rr.com>
  • Date: Tue, 7 May 2002 14:42:41 -0400

I hesitate to post this because of different climates, and the fact
that every gardener and iris grower has their own preferences
as far as feeding the babies. IN GENERAL:

Bearded irises do not need a lot of feeding. They will grow and
bloom in even poor soil. Feeding *will* give more robust growth
and floriferousness if you follow a few rules.

The numbers that tell what is in a fertilizer (N-P-K) the nitrogen,
phosphorus, and potassium content, are important. You will
find these numbers on the label as (for example) 5-10-10, and 
indicate the relative strength/content of the three basic elements
in the fertilizer. Nitrogen promotes green,leafy,soft growth. Phosphorus
promotes root and stem growth, and potassium is for blooms, fruit and

Bearded irises are a stem/root crop. Too much nitrogen causes soft growth
that is susceptible to damage--specifically rot. 
If you must feed, use a low nitrogen fertilizer such as 5-10-10. Also, use a granular
slow-release fertilizer rather than a liquid like Miracle Gro. Feed sparingly in the
spring several weeks before bloom. If you feel the need to feed again, do it in late
summer or early fall, well before frost, with a 0 nitrogen fertilizer. That way there is 
not a lot of lush leafy growth to get freeze damage (rot!) Do not feed in the dormant 
time (usually six weeks post-bloom) because lush growth+dampness+heat=rot.
We use our own mix of triple superphosphate and potash component, but no nitrogen.
Overfeeding can be detrimental to the plant and the soil. 

As for alfalfa, it is a good thing. So is good compost. Alfalfa has some compounds 
are favorable for iris growth. Both improve soil drainage and tilth. Both provide enough 
nutrients to greatly diminish the need for fertilizer.

John Bruce  jbruce1@cinci.rr.com
Hidden Acres Iris Gardens
SW Ohio,USDA Zone 5b
  One of the guys recommends
  alfalfa(hope that's spelled right)pellets. He swears
  by that product,but seems like the fert you put down
  in March should be enough-I'd be afraid of over doing
  it. I'm sure the more experienced can be of more
  help-good luck.     

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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