Why only white irises survive?

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I obtained a large number of bearded irises about twnety years ago. They were from a friend who was an iris fancier, and there were many colors. Now, only white remain. I thought that must be due to that color being hardy enough to survive my neglect, until I received a few bulbs of reticulated irises a few years ago. Since the instructions with them said they should never be allowed to dry completely, I placed them in a spot that would suit them. Since it is in a conspicuous place, they even got fertizer at least once each year (the bearded irises got no such pampering). The reticulated irises were a very dark blue about five years ago, but of the three blooming now, two are pure white and one is pale blue streaked with white.

Are irises like hydrangeas that change color with soil pH, or is there something else going on here? This is a mystery I would like solved. Thanks for your input!

-- Ruth Willson (rwillson@inforum.net), April 22, 2000


Ruth, oh how I envy you. I love iris, but lost all mine when we moved out here. In all the years I grew them, I never had anything happen like what is happening to you. Just wish I knew what to tell you. Can you go back to your friend or to the local iris society? There may also be some one you can contact through the county extension office who might be able to give you some answers. I've checked my Wyman's and nothing is listed as causing color failure.

In the meantime, all I can suggest is dig a few up and check the rhizomes carefully for any signs of pest damage or rot. Many problems can be treated with a bit of effort and, assuming you find something, might help the plants. Gerbil

-- Gerbil (ima@gerbil@hotmail.com), April 22, 2000.

I don't know the answer to your question. But we have a similar problem with daffodils. Haven't figured it out yet.

-- R. (thor610@yahoo.com), April 23, 2000.

If you allow irises to set seed or pods, they may revert to white or blue. Always cut off the spent blooms. They like slightly acid soil (about 6.8) and should be divided every 3 or 4 years. Irises are my favorite flower. Some of my prettiest I got from Schreiner's in Oregon. I have trouble keeping the red ones alive. They don't seem to be as hardy as the others.

-- Peg(WI) (wildwoodfarms@hushmail.com), April 23, 2000.

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