Unplanted Rhizomes: Have I Waited Too Long?

glitterglass(7a)September 27, 2008

Hi all,

I received my box of rhizomes from Cooley's well over a month ago, though I can't remember exactly when. I unpacked them to let them dry, but I've been obsessing so much over how to amend the soil before planting that not a one has a hit the ground yet.

Also, there were five iris plants in containers which I purchased from a local garden center which my mom put in the ground. I realized that she'd planted them with potting soil (she' so cute...) and pulled them out. They too have been sitting out of the ground now for weeks, although the fans did grow and they're still green. They have huge clumps of soil around the roots which I haven't touched.

Are my rhizomes suffering? I know I read on a slip from Cooley's that the rhizomes should be planted IMMEDIATELY, but it didn't say why... any insights will be greatly appreciated!

Jessie

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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

Plant now, and try not to worry. They should be fine. The problem with late planting , I think, is that for us folks in colder areas where they are many freezes and thaws throughout the winter, iris will often heave up out of the soil, if they are not 'established'. If they should happen to heave up some, you could put a little sand over them to cover any exposed roots, and up around the edges of the rhizome. I'm going to keep a little sand in the basement, in case it is needed, so it won't freeze.

Do whatever you can to amend the soil and go on.

I have planted my new irises on top of the existing undisturbed clay soil, after having sprayed the area with (generic) Round Up, and (generic)Preening it. I mounded some store bought humus, sand, and soil up over the rhizomes. I did not want to disturb the existing soil this season, as I will be digging thousands and thousands of Star of Bethlehem bulbs out of the bed once they start emerging in Feb. I feel a rant coming on...had best quit for now.

Sue

    Bookmark   September 27, 2008 at 6:37PM
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glitterglass(7a)

Hi Sue,

Thanks for the reply. Out of curiosity, what sort of humus do you use? Is it something like Bumper Crop (link below; look under Product Info>Soil Amendments if you're not familiar)? Also do you have a ratio for how much humus:sand:soil you put in? Sorry for all the questions. I am a bit of a newbie ;)

Jessie

Here is a link that might be useful: Mastery Nursery's Bumper Crop

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 3:59PM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

Living outside a small town, I don't have a lot of choice in buying things, especially if I wait until I 'need' them.

I just got some organic humus and manure (all in the same bag), some generic brand that WM carries. I just got 2 bags at 1/2 price from the 'broken bag skid they have off to the side. I check for broken bags of stuff occasionally whether I need them or not. I also got some Miracle Grow Potting mix 1/2 price...again 2 broken bags.

This time I'm going to do 'about' 1/4 sand, potting mix, humus, and plain ole garden dirt. There might be a better combination, but just being a small time grower and battling the Star of Bethleham, I just kinda do whatever to get by. I don't obsess too much about doing everything as good as it could possibly be done, but I do pay particular attention to the iris getting full sun, good drainage, and not being planted too deeply....3 of the most important things I think in order for them to just live and bloom, and not rot.

Sue

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 5:22PM
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marvine(z7/8 GA)

They should be just fine. I found a rhizome that had been sitting in the yard for at least 3 months, on very rocky ground, and it has started to grow (see picture). I have over 2,000 iris and I don't worry much about the soil, they seem to do well regardless. I add some lime and composted manure and plant.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 8:25PM
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Sparaxis(Vic Aust)

If I can't put mine straight into the garden, I do what your Mum did. I plant each rhizome into a small pot, just big enough to accomodate it, in potting mix, and water in. If the roots are too big for the pot, I cut most of them off. They will die back anyway, to make way for new roots that grow from the heel of the rhizome. I put my pots in a shady spot if it is hot, and water them maybe once a week. when the new roots appear out of the weep holes it is time to plant, with soil attached so as not to disturb the nice new roots.
Cheers, Jan

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 6:49PM
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glitterglass(7a)

Sue,

Thank you again for your response... that sounds like a good plan to me, and one I might use as a model of sorts for planting the rest of my irises. Do you add sand because you have clay?

Hi marvine,

I didn't see the picture originally because I read your response via email---that's great! That gives me great relief, and hope... a friend of mine has a plaque on her garden wall which says (something like) "hope springs eternal in the heart of a gardener." : ) Do you use a brand of composted manure like De-Hy or 'harvest' your own?

Jan,

Maybe I should have done that! Then again I don't know if I have enough pots... or enough time left because I waited so long :-/ She put them in the ground with potting soil though and they were planted somewhat deeply, so I dunno how they'd have fared. I will just be so thrilled if I get some blooms next year. I've never grown iris before and they fascinate me.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 10:35PM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

Do you add sand because you have clay?
No...I just added it because I had it...remember now, in my case I made a small mound on top of undisturbed soil, and then just put my soil mixture on the roots and rhizome, leaving the top of the rhizome looking like a turtle's back sticking up out of the soil.

I do not advocate planting irises this way...I just did it in a bed I will be digging Star of Bethleham bulbs out of in the spring There are a lot of clumps of the bulbs, and each clump has maybe 100 bulbs and bulblets in it. That is why I do not want to disturb and stir up the clumps of bulbs.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 10:54PM
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marvine(z7/8 GA)

Sue, I'm using a rotted manure/sawdust mix and shredded leaves, it came from a local sale barn. I have used the composted cow manure from WM in the past. Pictures of my garden are at www.mountaintopiris.com. Marvin E.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 6:59AM
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chere(7)

I had to move iris to build a front flowerbed and I just cut the tops off of paper grocery bags and put some potting soil in them and put about 4 iris in each bag and put them in a shaded area until I could replant them in the flowerbed my husband was making me. All of them made it but only a few bloomed last year.

Chere

    Bookmark   October 5, 2008 at 10:14PM
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wmoores(7/8 MS)

I use potting soil all of the time and plant in 4" pots and leave the plants there two to three months. Yes, you may have to cut off the roots to get them into the pots, but that is ok.

If I replant in a spot where iris grew the year before, I revitalize the spot with potting soil and shredded bark.

Don't be afraid of the potting soil.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2008 at 6:23AM
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glitterglass(7a)

Sue,
Thank you again for answering my questions---I know I ask a lot! And good luck with your Bulb Battle.

wmoores,

I may end up doing that as a backup plan... the roots on the rhizomes are very dry and some of them are very small right now. They pretty much arrived that way though and I am assuming and hoping that's normal.

Do you pot them with fertilizer? Also in your opinion, is it too late to put them in the ground with the average first frost date on October 16th or thereabouts? Sue mentioned a possible problem with the irises heaving out of the soil because of frosts and thaws and suggested adding sand on top of the roots and rhizomes.

I'm just trying to figure out what to put in my soil since I am trying to avoid nitrogen, which has never been a consideration of mine before. I can't use my trusty Bumper Crop so I asked some folks in the compost forum if Leafgro would be suitable and I am hoping it is.

Thank you again for the helpful responses! :)

    Bookmark   October 6, 2008 at 11:04AM
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wmoores(7/8 MS)

I do not use potting soil that has fertilizer in it. It may be too rich for irises.

I would plant them in the ground and put a brick or large rock over each rhizome to prevent heaving in the winter.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 5:34AM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

This is useful, I have the same/similar question. IÂm not clear about one thing though. In my case I can put them (finally) in their planned destination, but IÂm concerned about the fact that they are dry, and possible heaving. I can make a small mound to plant them on top of, then cover just the roots with sand? Or garden soil? Or is the sand just for those who will just move them in the spring, as emergency coverup if the root heave out over the winter? I can do the rock/brick too. They are quite small rhizomes, I donÂt want to smother them.

All of my previous irises where traded in the spring, IÂve never had ones to plant this late.

For glitterglass, if she opts to pot: how about just using bagged topsoil? ThatÂs not as rich as potting soil, no fertilizer.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 12:27PM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

Or is the sand just for those who will just move them in the spring, as emergency coverup if the root heave out over the winter?
I meant the sand could be used as an emergency coverup if the rhizomes heave up during the many freezes and thaws, due to being planted late, and not having time to get rooted in before winter setting in.

Sue

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 2:19AM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

I was finally planting mine this weekend. Since they sit high up anyway, how can you tell if theyÂve heaved? If the roots are exposed? How can you tell if there is snow on them?

Of course a bigger question is if I will make myself get out there in the winter to check on themÂ!

    Bookmark   October 21, 2008 at 1:16AM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

Since they sit high up anyway, how can you tell if theyÂve heaved? If the roots are exposed? How can you tell if there is snow on them?
Yes, if the roots are exposed. You would see it after a freeze and then a thaw, as in when the snow melts some as well as the top of the topsoil.

Of course a bigger question is if I will make myself get out there in the winter to check on themÂ!
I think it would happen moreso in late winter...and yes, you will probably be out and about some on some warmer sunny days, checking things out and wishing and hoping for spring to arrive.

Sue

    Bookmark   October 21, 2008 at 3:39PM
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