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Can I plant iris in winter?

Posted by taniaa z9 Australia (My Page) on
Mon, Jul 30, 07 at 19:00

Hi, I'm still quite new to gardening, and have never planted a bulb.

I noticed that iris bulbs are still available in the shops here, which lead me to think it must be ok to plant them in the middle of winter - I live in a warmish area of Australia. I had thought that bulbs got planted in autumn?

Also, how long do they normally take to start growing, and about how long to flowering? Thanks.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Can I plant iris in winter?

If you are talking about Dutch iris bulbs, disregard this.

The last safe planting time for bearded iris rhizomes depends upon the low temps. 6 weeks before the first frost.

In my climate that means year round! Oops, last year we set a recorded by dipping into the 20's.

Beardeds usually show some signs of growth after 2 months, depending upon the rhizome, weather, etc. I never expect bloom the first year but am thrilled when it happens. Most of the order flowers the 2nd year with maybe a few waiting until 3rd year. Many factors.

RE: Can I plant iris in winter?

If your area of Australia is like southern California, I would think you could plant irises twelve months of the year, though you may have to wait a year for bloom. Irises do need a little chilling. I am talking TBs here.

Dutch rarely survive three years for me and then new ones must be bought. It is the scorching summers and hot soil temperatures combined with lots of summer rainfall (usually) that do in the Dutch. Tulips are the same way, but mainly they are an annual here. If they bloom the second year, the foliage is distorted and the flower smallish. Some just send up foliage the second year and do not bloom. There will be a scattering that manage to stay on longer. Daffodils are the same way. King Alfred types and Ice Follies will naturalize, but most of the others are here for a season or two and then vanish. Asiatic, Oriental, crinum, spider lilies (three kinds) are here for the long haul.

Walter Moores

RE: Can I plant iris in winter?

Hi Tania. I don't know where you are in Australia but I can get away with planting bearded irises any time of year, if I just move them from one spot to another. I would not even think about planting those rubbish bearded irises they sell in bags in K-mart. Many of them are already dead, and those that survive can take up to 3 years to bloom, and then you find they have no resemblance to the photo on the packet and are very inferior in quality, often someones cast off seedlings. The best place to buy bearded iris is from a grower who can assure you have the correctly named plant.
For some reason our chain stores have the idea that winter is the time for planting beardeds. The ideal time is after bloom in December, and again in early autumn when the weather cools a bit after a hot summer. Plants purchased in winter should be put in the ground ASAP. If you are an e-bayer, you will notice that iris sales have almost ceased at this time of year.
Dutch iris (bulbs look like a small daffodil bulb) should be planted in Feb/March but can go later, and still give good results. Those in the stores now will most likely be soft and will rot in the ground.
Dutch iris here will last many years, and make good increase. I generally buy a few bags from K-mart or Woolies each year when they first come in, and are nice and firm.

Cheers, Jan

RE: Can I plant iris in winter?

I received a shipment from Schreiners just last week that I planted, and they are already showing signs of growth. Before I planted them, I trimmed the tops in the same pattern they were trimmed when they arrived; however, I did it again to get rid of the brown parts and to make them even. I checked on them a few days later, and a blade of growth is coming up through the middles of them. Also, on one I could see fat white roots coming out of the side, as I do not plant them deep. So, they definitely don't take two months to start to show growth. At this point in my garden, it is all about preparing for a wonderful garden next year.

To answer your question, don't plant Iris anytime you are getting or expecting to get within the next 6-8 weeks temperature that are not spring or summer-like. You can plant in fall as I'm doing; they should bloom after the cold.

RE: Can I plant iris in winter?

I live in Texas, where are summers are very hot. The best time to plant bearded iris is in the fall, while it is cool. The next best time, is winter. Rhizomes tend to be available during Feb., which is a little late for us.

We plant them anytime during the winter. It is best not to plant bearded irises during hot weather.

RE: Can I plant iris in winter?

Yes it is hot here in the DFW Tx area right now, little bit more than 100 here. I have had mine for over a week now trying to decide what to do with them and I am going to use Walters method and pot them all up and put them in the shade until it gets a little bit cooler.

RE: Can I plant iris in winter?

I live in upper zone 7... which means frost around Mid-October and then warm-ups off and on until it gets more dependably cold in late November to mid February.

I grow almost entirely bearded iris, and I have successfully transplanted them until maybe 3rd week of September, but had only moderate survival rates (maybe 50%)later than that.

What seems to happen is FROST HEAVE yanking them out of the ground before the roots can set deep enough to really anchor the plants.

Possible solution: mulch with something that will keep the soil from freezing (but be careful not to bury the rhizome itself... it could rot)... or surround with heavy rocks. Rocks moderate soil temperature plus their sheer weight has a little "anchor" effect, too. I have to put rocks around all my iris when first set just to keep the armadillos from digging them up.

Bearded Iris can also be stored for quite a long time (several months) in a well-ventilated back room that's comfortable-to-you. It will cost you a year's bloom, but most of them will be just fine to plant when the weather is more friendly. Check them occasionally to be sure they are not molding or infested with insects (a few apids can multiply to a fatal epidemic), and be sure they are lying BARE ROOT, not packed in anything to retain moisture.

The roots on them will dry up, but you will see tiny nodes where new roots are eager to spring into action, and they will begin to grow when they hit warming soil with moisture.

RE: Can I plant iris in winter?


My response was geared toward Tannia is Australia. I assume that the summers (Nov-April) in Australia are brutal like here!!

August in Australia would like Feb here. So, it would be a good idea to get them in the ground now, in Australia. If they have summers like ours!

I just received a bunch of bearded iris rhizomes via mail I'm going to pot mine up too!!! I can't imagine putting anything in the ground right now.

I don't know very much about bearded irises.

A question on division:

When a cut is made, a raw fleshy area is exposed. I put a 10% bleach solution on the cut and dry it off.

Now, should that cut area heal over before replanting???
(Which would take at least several weeks) Or can it be planted within a few days?

Information about division is confusing. I read somewhere to keep two fans, which would leave a larger central rhizome. But, in my yard, I found that this thick center rhizome was a point of rot. So, when I divided, I cut the sides off and am going to plant the sides. . However, when doing this, I knew that I removed potential roots for my plants.

Also, I have areas in my yard that will be full sun in the winter and spring, but shade in the summer. These areas will be sunny during growth and bloom time and have good drainage. I've read not to grow them in the shade, but I have a unique situation. So would that still provide the proper growing conditions?

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