Bearded iris: transplanted rhizomes in full sun squishy and dried

melle_sacto(Z9/Sunset 14 CA)August 3, 2008

I tried to fit it all into my subject. A couple weeks ago I divided some very hardy yellow bearded iris; after allowing the rhizomes to sit a few days in the shade, I transplanted them out into full sun and watered them. About ten days later (possibly more...) I checked to see how they were doing and they seemed to be doing awful.

The rhizomes, though planted at the correct depth, were squishy to the feel and looked quite wrinkled. These rhizomes get all day full sun and infrequent water...not barely full sun...and I wonder if the heat/lack of water was too much for them. Should I have watered every few days or waited until fall to transplant these guys, even though guidelines indicate summer is divide/transplant time?

Usually I have zero problems with these iris, but this is the first time I've planted them in such a harsh location where they did not receive much water.

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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

August is recommended for dividing and replanting Iris. That is true, but for the warmer areas of California, it would be better to wait until cooler fall weather to give the corms a chance to establish their roots. By the time of warm dry conditions next summer they will have become acclimated to the heat. This is true for the majority of plants, especially natives. Al

    Bookmark   August 3, 2008 at 5:27PM
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CA Kate

And, why do people think transplants don't need water? Like as if I've never been guilty of that.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 12:37AM
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melle_sacto(Z9/Sunset 14 CA)

LOL westelle! I wish I knew... I just kept telling myself "those iris can take anything"! Guess NOT ;-) I even consider myself a pretty good gardener; I think part of the problem is that I need to stick to my rule of no transplanting etc during the summer--no matter what I read elsewhere. Typically I divided iris in the fall (when it's not so d@mn hot and miserable outside) but I SWORE this year I was going to do it right! Hah.

Al--thanks for your comment, especially about CA natives. Last year I lost a manzanita b/c I didn't water it enough. I replaced it w/a non-native (easier to find) viburnum and I have been much better at watering it--almost like some nutty mindset. I still miss the manzanita, it would have been beautiful.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 9:48AM
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davissue_zone9(z9 Sunset 14)

You could get some shade cloth and rig a covering over them for the next couple of weeks to give them a chance to recover. Otherwise, for insurance, I'd pot up the best looking of the lot and keep in the shade as a stock plant for dividing and setting out next spring once growth becomes vigorous in the pot. Sue

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 12:07PM
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melle_sacto(Z9/Sunset 14 CA)


Thanks for the tip. I didn't even think about moving them into pots until they're doing better. I have a ton of those black one gal pots, too.

Luckily I still have a lot of the iris in other parts of the front yard that are doing fine--so it's not a total loss. I have to remember, though, that my rule is no digging up and moving of ANYTHING during summer. I just don't get around to watering enough.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2008 at 8:57PM
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CA Kate

melle: not only do I not plant anything in summer -- or late Spring either, I don't plant out small plants/rhizomes at all. I always pot them up in 1 gal cans to develop a root system, then plant them out in the Fall. They just don't make it if I do it any other way.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2008 at 9:03PM
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melle_sacto(Z9/Sunset 14 CA)

I should take your advice westelle...I even have a great spot in the backyard (along the garage) with eastern exposure that would be a good "plant ghetto" (so I've seen it referred to) for growing things in pots until fall.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2008 at 3:29PM
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CA Kate

Gee, I call my area "the nursery".

    Bookmark   August 10, 2008 at 7:52PM
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flowerbrackob(z4 WI)

It is the first week in June and my I's are blooming. We've had more than sporadic weather; the usual for WI, heat to AC.
Can I wait 'til they are finished blooming and "then" move them to a new bed?
Really don't want to wait 'til fall if I don't have to; however, can't bear to see all that money go down the drain.
Last yr. was the similar dilemma with the Syberians & Day Lils; but in the spring "before" they bloomed.
So I had to wait 'til this year for the fleurs; but they survived well.
It's Always Something Eh??? Jaemy

    Bookmark   June 2, 2010 at 1:12PM
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iris_gal(z9 CA)


Molly Price, and others, have recommended division as soon as bloom is finished. This advice seems to have been lost.

I have always waited a couple of months in the past and had little to none bloom the following year. I have friends in the area with better soil and they've had the same results. Excepting some very vigorous cultivars.

After division a soaking is required. I mean thorough. Overnight if needed. Then no water until the top 6 inches of soil dries. Bearded rhizomes cannot be compared to other plants.

I don't know why Melle's turned to mush after 10 days. Something was going on. I do know that hardiness is not an issue for tall beardeds in Sunset zone 14.

No fresh manure, good drainage, full sun, deep irrigation - these are mandatory for good health.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2010 at 9:19PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

You should not wait until fall in your climate. They need a chance to set their roots before winter.

Here, I can plant them until November and get bloom. I don't plant in August because I wilt.


    Bookmark   June 2, 2010 at 11:33PM
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queerbychoice(USDA 9a/Sunset 8 (CA))

Although I generally try to avoid planting in summer, I've had a few plant species (natives, even! - most notably Sambucus) consistently fail to survive when planted in the fall and then succeed beyond my wildest dreams when I tried planting them in the summer. So I think it's worth experimenting with planting in different seasons. Just make sure to water the plants well when you first plant them, and watch them extra closely for the first month or two for any sign of drought stress. Also, I tend to do my transplants at dusk, so that the roots aren't exposed to intense sunlight even for a few seconds during the transplant process.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2010 at 11:07AM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

Joining this thread rather late....

I am new to Iris and waited until now -- when the temps are cool -- to divide and transplant my new Iris rhizomes I received last spring. After reading the above, I wonder if I will have any blooms next year if I divide and plant now. :-( It was too hot for too long and the weather did not stay cool long enough... at least that was what I thought I should do for Iris.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 11:22AM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

You can plant iris any time of the year in Southern California. They do best if you plant them right away, regardless of the time of year. They are not bulbs, they are perennial plants. If it's too hot, pot them up and keep them in the shade until it cools a bit. If you leave them out of the ground they will eventually die.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 9:50PM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

Thank you, Renee.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 12:09PM
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If you want to go get more in case of failure Lowes has them 50% off. I saw a woman getting some today along with muscari...which won't bloom very well here.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 6:49PM
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