Hardiest TB iris recs

weeper_11(2b SK)January 16, 2011

I have Buckskin Babe and War Chief from Chuck Chapman already, and so far they have both done well. I'm looking for other tall bearded irises that are hardy enough to increase, at the very least, slowly and surely, and that bloom reliably. I asked Chuck and he said some of his newer intros, but other than that I should ask around locally, since so many of them either die their first winter or else slowly fizzle over a few years.

Are intermediate bearded more hardy then the TB?

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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

War Chief has never bloomed and gets smaller every year in my garden. Have you tried Garden Bride?

I'm sorry to say but the only TB that has done exceptionally well and increased in my garden is a mislabel Chuck sent me. It was supposed to be Cinnamon Girl but wasn't. He thinks it could be an accidental seedling.

Also my mom has a huge TB that she bought at a plant sale and lost the name many years ago. It produces enough for her to divide it every year. It's white with a very odd spicy smell that smells like corned beef to me. :S

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 8:27AM
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weeper_11(2b SK)

No, I haven't tried Garden Bride yet, but I was intending on asking for it as a bonus on my order this year.

War Chief bloomed for me this past summer, so it'll be interesting to see whether it fizzles or gets better. Buckskin Babe didn't bloom, but increased a couple of fans.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 8:29AM
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Pudge 2b

Wouldn't Rhein Nixe be the hardiest TB iris? I love them for being so dependable :)

    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 9:59AM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

Let's change the title to "hardiest TB iris that doesn't attempt world domination", LOL.

It's hard to tell what's doing well for me because I'm 95% sure I've got iris borer. I lost some good ones last year and when I dug them up there were small caterpillar things in the rotting rhisomes. I was going to start a post about iris borer but so far I'm too depressed.

Forgot to add, 'Classic Suede' was doing really well for me until it got the borer last summer. It was even increasing a little. 'No Bikini Atoll' seems to be holding its own too.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 10:12AM
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hykue(2b Saskatchewan)

Any more updates to this info? I'm going to order irises finally this year. They're my faorite flower, darn it!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 1:40AM
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I've spent more money on TB iris than I can count. I finally stopped..they don't survive my garden/zone. The only ones to thrive are the ones people try to give away. I think in order to do well, the soil conditions have to be ideal, otherwise they rot or something else gets them. I have never had problems with Siberian iris though, not as showy but at least it comes back.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 4:35AM
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Well, I feel better now after reading this thread. I don't think I've ever had an iris survive that I bought from a garden center and wondered what I was doing wrong. However, the ones I've bought at yard sales, charity plant sales, or freebies from friends survive well. I have a swath of Rein Nixe that get weeded out every now and again, had a very tall Sicilian for many years, and several others of various colors that are hardy.

Irises are one of my favs but I'm not wasting more money on plants that don't survive.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 6:27PM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

This is an old thread and since then, War Chief has increased and bloomed. The mislabel has spread a lot. Hollywood Nights has been doing well, as well as Uncle Charlie and Silverado. I have several new ones that I planted last year that look like they're going to bloom, but it's hard to tell how try will be long-term.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 7:26PM
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hykue(2b Saskatchewan)

Excellent, thanks for telling me which ones work for you :) I got an old thread on purpose hoping to get recommendations from the long-term! I'll try the suggested ones at least once, because houe springs eternal for fools like me :P

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 3:31PM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

Hope springs eternal for this fool too, and I confess I'm addicted to seeing the first ever bloom open on a new variety. Shamefully, shamefully addicted.

A trend I've noticed with TBs is often they "sit there" for a year or several years, growing a couple of leaves, not blooming, not increasing. In this vulnerable position the loss of one rhizome means you lost your iris. I have one variety that has never bloomed in all its 8 years. It skipped 2012 entirely - not even a single leaf - but last year I dug it up and moved it and now it has a bud. (happy days)

Once a TB decides it's going to bloom and increase, the chances of losing it entirely are pretty low. It might have a bad year where it loses a few rhizomes, but it'll spring back. Those are my observations anyway.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 5:26PM
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Ginny McLean_Petite_Garden

Just came across this thread and realized I hadn't put my 2 bits in. Strange, since I have well over 15o irises...... :)

I had a long chat with a breeder and grower today about the past winter and spring and what it has done to my irises. I lost a few that were at least 6 years old this year! And while I will agree that there are definitely irises that just don't handle the winters we get in Edmonton, I find the greatest challenge is where they are planted. I have irises that didn't bloom for years until I moved them to somewhere they liked. Trial and error has been my best teacher since planting my first 10 irises 10 years ago.

No iris borers that I have yet to see, which I am grateful for, and basically four things I have found irises are picky about. 1) They don't like wet feet, 2) They LOVE the sun, 3) They must have their rhizomes slightly above the soil level towards the sun if possible, 4) They like a warm blanket of leaves or mulch in the winter. :)

Since I am such a diehard iris lover, I have spent a small fortune on plants over the last 10 years. I have lost many and still have some that have been here all of those 10 years. Some years some don't bloom for me for some reason so I usually move them. Was just saying today that I have given IB Ming five chances......finally planted her out front and she has bloomed her pretty little head off for 2 years now and increased exponentially! Same with Buckskin Babe, Happenstance, and Dusky Challenger!

And so it is with my experience with irises, The Goddess of the Rainbow. Once she takes hold of your heart and you treat her like a lady, there are no words to describe her beauty. Even if she only blooms for a short period, her elegant foliage stays green and adds to the charm of my Garden of Angels all season. :)


PS I also use alfalfa pellets as a soil additive. :)

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 10:26PM
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weeper_11(2b SK)

I've given up on TB's since I first posted this. After that one year that War Chief bloomed, I never got another bloom off any of them! It's strange, I can grow every other kind of bearded iris just fine..but TB's just fizzle for me. I still have War Chief and Buckskin Babe; they aren't dying, but they look like crap every year. Their leaves don't get full sized(although they keep increasing) and they don't bloom.

My guess is that they can't handle our heavy soil. We have such heavy, alkaline clay, it seems like all they can do is survive. I'll probably try moving them one more time, and planting them with their rhizomes basically on top of the dirt and see how they make out. I have one old dwarf iris that I tossed under one of the shelterbelt evergreens the one year, because it was totally infested with a leaf spot I couldn't get rid of(and I had a lot of them). A few years later I noticed that those irises hadn't died! Their rhizomes are completely above the ground, but they put down roots anyway, have no leaf spot whatsoever, and bloom happily and nearly complete shade!! So very strange, but they seem very happy under there. So I guess irises can survive above ground, as long as they get plenty of snow cover!

Oh, and Ginny, I lost a number of irises this winter that have done beautifully for a number of years. Just a bad year for them I guess.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 12:51AM
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