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Iris Mother Rizomes

Posted by bookwizards on the edge 7-8 (My Page) on
Wed, Jul 30, 08 at 0:09

Hi this is Bill and I should have known better.

As we prepared beds and began planting I looked on ebay and found someone selling 25 mixed color Iris for $12. I ordered 2 bunches and they arrived looking like no iris I had ever seen just a rizome no roots and no plant on all but a few. Those with a leaf or two have just sat and have not grown. The others we planted out of desperation not sure what if anything was going to happen. After a while most of them have put out shoots in fact most have 2 or 3 shoots and one has an incredable 6 tiny plants jamed together. What if any way is the best way to handle these little irises.

For the ones with 2 or 3 plants I just expect to let them grow to a point where they can be safely seperated. But several have plants very close together and there are a couple with 4 and the one with 6 little plants crowding each other the ones with 2 have grown some and now have defined fans even if they are only 6 to 8 inches tall. The one with six has very small plants with 2 or 3 leaves and they are only about 3 to 4 inches tall.

After spending a week on the list and reading every post that did not say please identify. I beleve these were the left over Mother plants from dividing some of the rizomes, and are pretty beat up looking. Some did not come back and are still just lumps in the dirt all but a couple grew roots but so far nothing green. I used no fertilizer as these are in a new bed filled with compost to 4 inches and tilled into the soil then a top dressing of compost was put on top and the iris planted just below the compost. As the compost has broken down the rizomes have raised and some have had new soil added to keep the rizome from just sitting on the surface.

After this lesson we have ordered several times from internet growers and have only ordered Dykes and other award winning plants. Seemed like a safe bet for a couple of newbies. Hard to goof with a major award winning iris. The last purchase we made was for a dozen Daughter of Stars planted to form a clump. I guess it is late in the season for sellers and we recieved half of these as two plants and a mother rizome for a total of 18 plants and just planted them that way.

My question and I read the entire forum and then did several searches for posts with the word mother and another word and read those but did not find a post that addressed how to handle the mother rizome some recomended leaving one plant with the mother some said compost some said plant and hope for the best. One mentioned breaking the mother into several smaller pieces but no recomendation seemed to meet with agreement. For those we have with plants next to each other or those with 4 or more little plants is segmenting the mother a possible solution to the overcrowding of plants on one rizome or do we just break off one or more of the little irises for discarding. What do we do these will be very crowded plants fairly soon and definatley by next year.

So far most of the mother rizomes we purchased are growing new plants but I expect it will be 2010 before we see any blooms to see what mixed colors meant.

Bill in Texas

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Iris Mother Rizomes

I've read that rhizomes can be sliced into segments, about 1 inch long, and that it is a good way to increase stock, however I've not tried it and don't know how long it takes to get a bloom.

RE: Iris Mother Rizomes

  • Posted by laurief z3b northern MN (My Page) on
    Wed, Jul 30, 08 at 9:18

It sounds to me like you may have received a variety of bearded classes as well as colors. The mother with six little increases all crowded together sounds like a miniature or standard dwarf bearded. That's a very common growth pattern for the dwarfs and nothing to worry about. Just let them grow that way. Dwarfs grow into tight, round clumps quite quickly, so they do generally require division more frequently than the taller medians and talls.

While your increases are still small, leave them attached to the mother rzs. The mothers will continue to feed them while they mature, at which point they'll be much easier and successfully divided away from the mother.

Just leave them all the way they are for now. Next year you can reassess and divide the ones that have matured into full grown plants, if you so desire. Note, though, that your best bloom will occur on clumps that have been left in place with no root disturbance for 2-3 yrs. If you dig and divide every year, you'll never be likely to enjoy full blooming clumps.

Happy irising,


RE: Iris Mother Rizomes

Thanks for the information. I only thought of breaking up the mother rizome in order to move the baby plants further apart but that sounds like it would not be a good choice. While these are our first purchases I grew up in a yard with iris mostly white and purples but my aunt suported herself and her family by raising cockatos growing plants and a friend of hers had her entire backyard in Iris beds with concrete borders probably 6 or more beds that ran almost the full width of her yard. She raised and sold but I do not know if she developed new plants She gave my mom several two toned plants in the 50's but I do not think any survided. Once one of my mom's plants had a seed pod and she came by several times and then took it so she may have been interested in growing new plants but it would have had to have been small scale. while we started with TB iris we were thinking of dwarf for edges so we will take a wait and see with the litle plants. These rizomes looked like they might be culls from a larger grower since the ebay add ran for months and there were lots of 100 iris offered so he must have had a ready supply of these items from somewhere.

We are in North Texas DFW area and summers are "Hot and dry after the Fourth of July" as the saying goes lots of 100 plus days and little rain until September. We wanted to convert to a low maintance low water yard after several summers of water use reduction, so we are doing away with the lawns and planting low water need plants various flowering sage, lantana, crepe myrtle, vitex and Iris. Here afternoon shade is an essencial to reduce watering needs and keep plants alive.

I will be installing a just below the surface french drain system to reuse bath and wash water along with reusing rainfall from the roof. Seemed like a reasonable idea and it is inexpensive and for the short term would have no storage capability. I have reused washing machine water durin the 70's drought and it had no bad effects I used a bio-degradable detergent and watered the trees with it. I have a self limiting input for the rainfall reuse and the system can easily be turned off during the rainy season to avoid flooding the beds.


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