New To Irises

roseblush1(8a/Sunset 7)November 3, 2010

I live in the mountains of Northern California and a friend gave me a few irises as a gift a few weeks ago. I didn't get them planted right away because I had to finish the fall chores ... stacking wood, etc. Last week we got seven inches of rain and my soil is soaked clay. It's impossible to amend this soil when it is this wet. Winter will be here in a week or so. My low at night temps are around twenty degrees... day temps above freezing. Can I plant these irises in wet soil ? I don't care if they bloom next season. I just don't want to lose them.



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If you truly don't care about the bloom next season then i'd probably grow them in pots inside for the winter and then plant them out in the spring. that would be the easiest way to ensure that none die. or you could keep a few inside and plant a few outside, they might survive depending on snow cover and whatnot, but they likely won't have time to get rooted.

I'd bring them in.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 9:42AM
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roseblush1(8a/Sunset 7)

Thank you for taking the time to reply. I realized after I posted my question that I forgot to say that we get about 30" of rain in a normal season. (I am at 2000' so we don't get a lot of snow that sticks for more than a day or two.) This means that I won't be able to work the soil until late spring ... if we have a wet spring. I am told these are going to be tall plants, so I know I won't be getting to that bed before April or early May.

One question for a beginner always leads to another question... can I pot the irises up and keep them outside on a covered patio ? I have a cat that eats house plants ... grrrr. I have four plants. Should I use four small pots or put them into one big pot ? If I put a saucer under the pot will this cause drainage problems ? If kept on the patio outside, how often do I water them and do they need more winter protection for the cold ? I truly am new at growing irises. Any specific instructions would be greatly appreciated.


    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 8:54PM
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iris_gal(z9 CA)

Assuming they are tall bearded iris ............. you could do either - 4 pots or 1. Will the rhizomes have some space between in the large pot? If so I would use it since they will be removed next spring. It is probably deeper than the smaller pots. On the covered patio they should be fine.

Drainage, drainage, drainage is the key. I would think in terms of monthly water. The top few inches of soil in the pot needs to dry between soaks so the rhizomes are not sitting in moistness. And the tops of the rhizomes show - no mulch on top!

Hopefully someone else will chime in with specific experience in your zone.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 11:24PM
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roseblush1(8a/Sunset 7)

Iris gal...

I can manage that. I have pots of all sizes from 2 gal to 20 gal because I was gifted with 150 roses when I bought this house and had to pot them all up while I worked on the deferred maintenance. I was only guessing that I couldn't put my new iris plants in the ground after the heavy rain and now that has been confirmed.

So, I need a deep pot if I am going to use one plant to a pot or if I use one large pot, I need a wide enough pot to make sure the plants don't touch... and no saucers. I would guess that means lifting the pot from the hard surface to facilitate drainage.

I was told to feed them low nitrogen food when I planted them and that I should use a loose potting soil. Is that correct ?

If I can get them through the winter and plant them when the soil is dryer and they live, I'll be one happy lady. I can wait for them to bloom.


    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 11:54PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Sounds like a good plan to me.
Have you posted photos of your roses on the Rose Forum? :)

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 12:57AM
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roseblush1(8a/Sunset 7)

Hi Renee....

No, I usually spend most of my rose computer time working on the rose database on HMF, but I do look into the Rose Forum a lot. I did a big favor for a rose nursery and they thanked me in roses ! Of course, I am already a rose nut, but I don't want a mono-garden. The roses are planted, but a lot were given away because I didn't have enough room for all of them. I am at the point that if I want to add a new rose another rose has to go, but that's not true for other plants.

btw... would you be interested in helping to create a database for irises for the HMF site. It is set up to create a database for any kind of flower we all love. I don't know enough about irises to take that project on by myself.


    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 2:09AM
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There is already an official Iris wiki picture database.

here's a 'reprint' of the initial article (from a different Iris discussion group) Feel free to use and contribute !!!

Hello Iris Lovers!

On behalf of our fearless Twiki project leader, Bob Pries, and the rest of the Twiki team, I'd like to invite you all to come see the amazing progress we've made AND invite you all to sign up for uploading access to the Twiki and start CONTRIBUTING your photos and comments! You can sign up for your FREE access here:

You do NOT have to be a docent in order to contribute your content to existing Twiki pages, but you do have to sign up for uploading access. If, however, you want to be able to add new Twiki pages or edit existing content, you do need to request to be made a docent. You can request docent status by contacting Bob Pries directly at

It's time to start taking the TWiki to the next level of participation and THAT MEANS YOU! We know that our most valuable contributions (not to mention our most accurate proofreading) to the TWiki will come from Iris Aficionados like you. This is why we are inviting you NOW, before we open the Twiki to the general public on the AIS website, to come and add your photos and comments to Twiki iris pages. This will help create the resource that will WOW the public and bring more people into our passion.

We now have about 14,000 iris cultivars of all classes represented with their own pages in the Twiki (and more being added daily), including most of the more current intros and many older irises. This is only a large drop in the bucket in terms of the total number of irises registered with the AIS, but it's a mighty fine start. Still, this is very much a work in progress, so it's likely that you'll find some of the iris pages to which you would like to contribute not yet created. If you do encounter not-yet-created pages, please feel free to submit them to Bob or to me and request that they be added. We'll give them priority for addition and get them up for you ASAP. Please, however, make sure the irises you request are not yet in the TWiki before submitting them for addition.

While exploring the TWIki, you may very well stumble across typos or other inaccuracies. Please submit these to Bob or myself, as well, so that corrections can be made. The more eyes proofreading the TWiki, the better!

We can't wait to see our iris community Twiki flourish and grow. Be part of the TWIki fun. CONTRIBUTE YOUR CONTENT!!!

Happy irising, everybody,

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 12:52PM
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roseblush1(8a/Sunset 7)

Thank you for the information. It takes a lot of hard work and expertise to create a database. As I've said before, I am new to irises and have yet to explore all of the sites available ... or even many of them. I do, however, see another addiction coming. I am already planning an iris hill at the top of the slope of my property.


    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 2:56PM
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iris_gal(z9 CA)

You're correct. No saucer unless you are making sure the soil is saturated for 1/2 day.

I live in adobe soil area so my pots are about 1/3 adobe & 2/3 nice loose stuff.

When I prepare a bed I use bonemeal. It becomes available to iris roots the following year. I use superphosphate too only if I can distribute it down where the roots won't touch for a couple of months. It's immediately available and can burn new roots. I use bulb fertilizer if that's all I have. Have also used a 6-10-10 rose fertilizer.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 10:21PM
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roseblush1(8a/Sunset 7)

Thank you for the confirmation. I would use the same technique with roses. They need good drainage, too. Some gardening lessons are transferable.

The soil in my garden is clay glacier slurry. Awful stuff. To make a bed I have to dig it out, sift out the rock, perk test then amend the soil with lots and lots of compost. There are few natural nutrients in glacier slurry and it takes years to bring the soil to life.

I will be using a regular potting soil with no fertilizer already in it to pot up my new irises.

Thanks again for the help.


    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 11:08PM
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