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Iris Culture In Tucson

Produced by TAIS

Bearded Iris

(Tall Bearded, Median Bearded, & Arilbreds)

When Received: If purchased at the TAIS sale, remove from bag and place in a cool, dry place. Do not allow the rhizomes to become wet or damp. Allow for air to circulate around the rhizomes. Do not refrigerate. If purchased by mail, open shipping box immediately, remove packing material, and check the order. Look into the fan of leaves on each plant. Healthy rhizomes are clean, firm, and free of disease or pests. Store as instructed above.

When To Plant: In our desert area wait until daytime temperatures stay under 100 degrees, usually between September 15th and October 15th. It doesn't hurt to delay planting the dormant rhizomes until November 30th. Roots grow quickly in warm soil and need to be established before cold weather. If desired, rhizomes may be planted in nursery pot, (1 to 3 gallon until ready to plant in ground.

Where To Plant: Plant in well-prepared, enriched soil that has good drainage. Full to at least 1/2 day sun is required (morning or afternoon). Iris have specific water requirements for each season, be careful if you select to use iris in mixed plantings. TAIS recommends iris grown for show be planted isolated from other perennials. No water must stand! Avoid low areas! If you have a drainage problem, used a raised bed. Be aware of invasive roots from nearby trees, shrubs, and lawns.

Preparing The Soil: Tucson gardeners use a variety of methods to amend our native soils. Examine your garden location to determine what will be required to improve the soil. Dig the native soil at least 18" making sure to remove caliche, rocks, and debris. Be sure to eliminate Bermuda grass or any other types of invasive plants. Fill the area with water and make sure it will drain. If drainage is more than 4 hours, dig through caliche or consider a raised bed.

How to Plant: Tall bearded irises are planted 1.5" to 2' apart. You can space medians closer. The iris rhizomes are planted close to the surface. If the rhizome ha s some dry roots, use them to anchor the plant by spreading them out and covering them with soil. Pack soil down firmly to avoid air pockets. The rhizome will grow new roots. Cover the top of the rhizome with about an inch of soil. This soil will eventually wash away, leaving the top of the rhizome exposed to the sun, which is what they like. Avoid deep planting. For an instant clump, plant 3 rhizomes of the same variety in a triangle about 8" apart. Face the fans of the leaves all the same direction.

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