I am digging out some irises today and was wondering just how long they can wait to be planted in their new homes. I want to put them where a bunch of annuals are now doing a show and I hate to tear out the annuals now.
My understanding is they do best if they're only out for 2-3 weeks. However, if they're able to package them and sell them in stores like Lowes and such, I believe they can be out much longer. The key would be keeping them in a cool dark place, and dry. I did a quick search on "storing iris" and came up with, you can store them for a few months as long as they are kept dry, and cool. Use brown paper bags, and store them in a cupboard maybe.
They need to go in the ground at least 6 weeks before the first frost, in order to establish roots by then to get them through the winter. I would think storing them longer than 6 months would be pushing it.
Remember most bearded iris' can be stored dry, but most JA and SI can not be dried out all the way.
Wow Liz thanks so much for taking the time to help me out. I certainly appreciated it.
I live in South Carolina where last year we had typical high 90-100 degree days in July and August. So when I received an iris order on last July 21, I kept them in a cool dark closet until early September. Once planted, some of these started growing quickly; however, most seemed slow growing through the fall, and they were "stunted" come spring. One of them rotted and was lost.
I know that many are against this; however, in the past, when I've potted up early rhizomes and then transplanted them to the garden, they have been absolutely fine.
Personally, from now on I'll get mine into a pot in a cool place until the weather cools off. That's just my opinion, but they seem to have done better for me this way.
Even though I'm in the north it gets hot and dry here in July and August, and sometimes you need to get those orders shipped before they're sold out, so I pot mine when I get them in July, and plant them out in September. As long as it's just a holding pattern you can get quite a few in a pot. I keep them under a tree after potting and water about once a week.
If you do store them in a cool dry place, you might consider putting some peat in the bag as well, like they do when they package them for the big box stores. It might help some to keep them from drying out so much.