Bearded Iris SOS!!!


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I am writing out of desperation to save my poor Bearded Iris, War Chief variety. I only just purchased and transplanted the plant, and it's not going well. Admittedly the conditions of my garden weren't absolutely perfect for this plant, but it is my very favorite flower and I wanted so badly to make it work!

Here's what happened: my cursed clay soil didn't drain well enough. On top of that, I planted the poor thing too deep, and it got too wet. By the time I noticed the ailing plant, a lot of damage had already been done.

I have since dug up the plant, and cut away many rotted roots (more than half!). The bulb-like rhizome was rotted, and filled with stuff that resembled cream cheese (will it grow back?!). The plant thus separated into three plants with meager roots; the smallest one seems to be maintaining the best. Otherwise, the leaves are shriveling and fibrous, and turning yellow at the ends. Not sure what to do, I placed the separated iris into two containers filled with well-draining medium with some compost. I also moved the plant indoors where I can closely monitor them and they won't get overwatered.

What can I do to bring this poor guy back? Is there any hope? Should I keep them in the containers, indoors, for now? How can I amend my garden soil so iris can survive? Here's a pic of the plants' current condition:

20170803_102446.jpg


Is it still planted too deep? You can see the damage at the base of the plant where it started to rot... Any help would be greatly appreciated. I LOVE iris so much and would hate to see it die because of me!
 
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Definitely too deep. The rhizome should be on the surface with just the roots which come from it being in the soil. It should be positioned so that the rhizome faces south too, if possible. The leaves naturally die off a lot at this time of year (best time to split clumps by the way as now is when they make new roots). You could cut those leaves back by half to help with water loss.
If the rhizome has begun to rot then there is not much you can do other than cut away the bad portion until you reach a good bit and hope that it has some root buds on it.
 
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Thanks for the quick reply. I was afraid this was the case... Basically the whole rhizome rotted, though there were some roots left at just the base of each plant. I have a bad feeling that this Iris is a goner, but I'll try my best to bring it back, and cut the leaves as you suggested. Any other tips? Keep indoors? Magical elixers? Would have to be magic, I'm afraid. Was adding straight compost to the medium too much for the ailing roots??

Thanks again

Definitely too deep. The rhizome should be on the surface with just the roots which come from it being in the soil. It should be positioned so that the rhizome faces south too, if possible. The leaves naturally die off a lot at this time of year (best time to split clumps by the way as now is when they make new roots). You could cut those leaves back by half to help with water loss.
If the rhizome has begun to rot then there is not much you can do other than cut away the bad portion until you reach a good bit and hope that it has some root buds on it.
 

alp

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@Ms. Mary Kate By the look of the leaves, you might still have hope. Best is to use a lot of grit or even half if you have clay soil.

Please have a read here

Preventing Rotting Iris Roots Iris root rot is not easy to cure. However, many times you can avoid it by using good cultural practices in your garden. First, make sure that your irises are planted in sunny sites. Good soil drainage is critical, so consider raising your beds if need be to ensure proper drainage. Adequate spacing between rhizomes is also important since overcrowded plants are more vulnerable to bacterial growth. Don’t plant your rhizomes too deep in the soil, and keep dirt from the base of the fans. Never use fresh manure on your iris plants, especially if drainage is a problem. Instead, feed your plants with gentle fertilizers. How to Treat Iris Rot If you want to know how to treat root rot, it means your irises are already under attack. You’ll need to dig up each diseased rhizome and inspect it carefully. If the iris root rot is extensive, destroy the iris rhizome. Unfortunately, this is the only method of root rot control in iris if the rot has spread. You can learn how to treat root rot that is not so extensive, however. For less seriously affected plants, cut out and dispose of all parts of the rhizome that are diseased. Use sterilized tools to do this, and sterilize them again after use to prevent spreading the bacteria.

Read more at Gardening Know How: Iris Root Rot: Preventing Rotting Iris Roots And Bulbs https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/bulbs/iris/rotting-iris-roots-bulbs.htm


And next time after you have bought something, google youtube as there are a lot of good videos to take ideas from. Good luck.

PS I love irises too.. They can take a lot of abuse, - Free draining compost and rhizomes being baked are the keys. They just don't like sitting in wet clay soil.
 
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Wow, great feedback thank you so much. Yes, unfortunately the rhizome was EXTENSIVELY rotted, and most (nearly ALL) of it was cut off. It was extremely mushy and gross. The plant separated into three as a result, and each plant has only 1-3 good roots coming out of the base. I moved them into containers since I clearly need to amend my garden soil. I planted them in very well-draining gritty medium plus a little compost, and have them very very shallow, just the roots going under the surface. Since there are so few roots, they are extremely unstable so I brought them inside to a very sunny location in a screened in south-facing porch.

I plan to amend the clay soil with half sand, half homegrown compost, lightly turning it into the first few inches of clay soil. My compost is activated with manure from my chickens--however, I always make sure the manure is well-rotted (not fresh) before adding. I may also add a raised portion for next season, but that would be complicated since I already have so many established plants in the area (in particular, blueberry bushes and a strawberry patch).

I will definitely make sure to do a LOT more research before buying a new, unfamiliar plant from here on out. It was definitely not cheap as far as plants go; but even if it it doesn't make it, I suppose it was worth the learning experience!

Thanks again for the great and detailed feedback. I hope they bounce back!

@Ms. Mary Kate By the look of the leaves, you might still have hope. Best is to use a lot of grit or even half if you have clay soil.

Please have a read here

Preventing Rotting Iris Roots Iris root rot is not easy to cure. However, many times you can avoid it by using good cultural practices in your garden. First, make sure that your irises are planted in sunny sites. Good soil drainage is critical, so consider raising your beds if need be to ensure proper drainage. Adequate spacing between rhizomes is also important since overcrowded plants are more vulnerable to bacterial growth. Don’t plant your rhizomes too deep in the soil, and keep dirt from the base of the fans. Never use fresh manure on your iris plants, especially if drainage is a problem. Instead, feed your plants with gentle fertilizers. How to Treat Iris Rot If you want to know how to treat root rot, it means your irises are already under attack. You’ll need to dig up each diseased rhizome and inspect it carefully. If the iris root rot is extensive, destroy the iris rhizome. Unfortunately, this is the only method of root rot control in iris if the rot has spread. You can learn how to treat root rot that is not so extensive, however. For less seriously affected plants, cut out and dispose of all parts of the rhizome that are diseased. Use sterilized tools to do this, and sterilize them again after use to prevent spreading the bacteria.

Read more at Gardening Know How: Iris Root Rot: Preventing Rotting Iris Roots And Bulbs https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/bulbs/iris/rotting-iris-roots-bulbs.htm


And next time after you have bought something, google youtube as there are a lot of good videos to take ideas from. Good luck.

PS I love irises too.. They can take a lot of abuse, - Free draining compost and rhizomes being baked are the keys. They just don't like sitting in wet clay soil.
 
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The Iris will be better off outside but there's no reason why you shouldn't stake them temporarily why they establish good roots and rhizomes. A bamboo cane or similar is all they need to keep them steady. :)
 
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The Iris will be better off outside but there's no reason why you shouldn't stake them temporarily why they establish good roots and rhizomes. A bamboo cane or similar is all they need to keep them steady. :)
OK, I'll move them out ASAP. I need to amend the area first!
 

alp

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Just watched The Beechgrove Garden in which Chris Beardshaw showed how to divide iris. He says that the rhizomes should be at least 2 inches long as the plant needs this much as it fuels any future growth.

Pot them up instead of growing outside. 25% grit and 75% garden compost. Mixed well. Then plant the rhizomes a bit deeper and I would suggest trim the leaves in a fan shape and put the pot in a hot and sheltered places. I would opt for a south facing border under a shrub and yet the iris will get the sun and he says it should be planted deeper i.e not exposing the rhizomes. Water it very well. Once roots have developed, you could remove the top soil. ( I add this) to expose the rhizomes.

I myself have a big clump of rhizomes sitting on a garden compost. It's not clay, but very moist and free-draining. Already it has several new bulblets comiing up. Will show you these tomorrow. I have 2 of these.
 
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Having said that, I have managed to save Irises where there has only been the new roots coming from the base of the leaves with no rhizome at all. They just take a few seasons to reach flowering size.
Really must go and clean up our Iris garden, not been in there for a while and it does get weedy. I find Iris are the most weed attracting plants of all.
 

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