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Re: CULT: Fall fertilizing(was "OT-BIO:" Connie Lane)

From: Bill Shear <BILLS@hsc.edu>

>> I haven't seen anything on the list as far as a reply.  I too am
>> interested in how everyone FALL FERTILIZES.  I don't have a good
>> compost pile  going yet so I would have to use chemical fertilizer -
>> any suggestions???

For fall fertilizing of bearded irises, I would suggest only rock
(colloidial) phosphate, or bone meal (very slow release of phosphate), and
no nitrogen.  You don't really want to encourage a lot of soft fall growth
in your climate, which nitrogen would do.
Phosphate helps plants harden off for winter, and is the nutrient most
important to good iris growth.  Bone meal has been the traditional source,
and releases its phosphate very slowly, so this may be a plus as a fall
fertilizer--most of the phosphate becomes available in the spring.  Scratch
or till in the rock phosphate or bone meal to get it to the roots.

Compost as a top-dressing is probably not a good idea for bearded irises.
Use plenty of compost when you prepare a new bed, and allow several weeks
for the bed to "mellow."  For beardless irises, nothing could be finer than
an inch or two of good compost applied in the fall.

Bill Shear
Department of Biology
Hampden-Sydney College
Hampden-Sydney VA 23943
FAX (804)223-6374

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