Iris beginner

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Iris beginner

Post  Raymondo on Thu Sep 04, 2008 5:00 pm

I moved to Armidale some 3 years ago. In the first spring I noticed several clumps of these magnificent purplish blooms. I was always passing in a car so never freally found out what they were. Then, last spring I bought my house and lo and behold, I had a clump of the same flowers, though these were pale blue. I discovered they were irises, though which species I do not know. A friend saw them and insisted on a swap, so now I have two varieties. I think they are the same species. After having seen your iris gallery I think I might try for a few more.
Jan, do you mind a few questions? What would I need to post picturewise for you to be able to identify the species? Or is that not possible from photos? And if I was to save seed and grow them, would I get exactly the parent or is there a chance that they'd be different? Mine are showing growth and the ones against the brick where it's a touch warmer have buds.

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Re: Iris beginner

Post  Lomatia on Thu Sep 04, 2008 5:54 pm

Ray, they are a bit of a mystery to me. I have quite a lot at Mville so bought the RHS Iris book on eBay which has proved to be useful. I need to divide mine this summer. (Is that right?)

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Re: Iris beginner

Post  siri on Sat Sep 06, 2008 4:57 am

Hi guys. Just coming into iris season of course, so this topic will warm up from here on.
Raymondo - your irises are most likely tall bearded irises, although your description doesn't leave me with a lot to go on. Do they have fuzzy little beards like fuzzy caterpillars, on the downward hanging petals (the falls) up the top where the petals attach (at the haft)?
If so, then yes they are bearded irises. They should grow well in Armidale, and if you are finding that, then I would be happy to send you a sample box of smaller rhizomes when i dig over my beds over the summer (as Lomatia says) Same for anyone else here, for the cost of postage.

Raymondo, they require at least a 1/2 day sun and well drained garden soil. They like liming in winter if the soil is acidic (too late now - wait until next year) and pottasium and phosphorous for root development and bloom quality, colour etc.
They do not like a lot of Nitrogen. They will appear to grow very well at the expense of bloom, and rhizomes will be larger and softer, and at risk of rhizome rot in hot wet conditions.
Having said that they do need some nitrogen, and will deplete the soil in 3 to 4 years, when youo have to dig and divide them and plant into fresh soil.
They do not like to be mulched too close to the rhizome, as it provides those hot wet conditions that they hate.
OK - that's just off the top of my head.
Keep the questions coming.
I write for the Victorian Iris Society newsletter, so answering your questions keeps me on my toes :-)
I will discuss what tasks you need to do over the next few months, on a month by month basis, in new threads.
Cheers, Jan

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Re: Iris beginner

Post  siri on Sat Sep 06, 2008 4:59 am

Oops - missed some questions:

Just a photo of the flower will do for identification. If I don't know it I will ask for more details.
Seed saving is worthwhile in some cases, particularly with species. Let's see what you have first. If you have very old varieties of bearded irises, I would advise against saving seed for a number of reasons.

Cheers, Jan

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Re: Iris beginner

Post  Raymondo on Sat Sep 06, 2008 3:16 pm

The irises that were here are planted on a clay mound. The rhizomes are visible as they are only half buried and are criss-crossed by couch grass stolons. The mound is never watered, not even accidentally. They live on whatever moisture falls from the sky. I don't remember whether they have beards or not. I'll take a pic when they're in flower. As the garden develops, they'll be moved. It really is a blank canvas, apart from couch and kikuyu, my favourite grasses!!!

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Re: Iris beginner

Post  Raymondo on Wed Sep 10, 2008 4:09 am

Okay, I lashed out and bought a bearded iris yesterday. A single piece (are they rhizomes?) with a shoot. The variety is Bluebird Wine, a pretty two-toned flower. I'll put in a pot for this year.

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Re: Iris beginner

Post  siri on Wed Sep 10, 2008 7:12 am

Yes rhizomes. Bluebird wine is an old one that I particularly live with its very blue standards and much darker falls, and by memory red beards?
I hope it does well for you. Give it plenty of room to grow. I usually put about 4cm of well rotted cow manure in the bottom of the pot, then top with a good quality potting mix. A general purpose, slow release fertiliser will do to. They are reasonably heavy feeders, if you want them to do well and flower.
Cheers, Jan

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Re: Iris beginner

Post  Raymondo on Wed Sep 10, 2008 12:50 pm

Thanks Jan. It'll only stay in the pot for a year. Once there are more garden beds I'll plant it out.

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