Bearded Iris & Mulch

Sun, 25 Nov 2012 19:30:06 PST
Hi Jerry!

I live on ranch land that was once upon a time part of Lake Lahonton so we
have a lot of heavy clay and few rocks.  When I work in the next county I
stop to collect big rocks to put around my plants.  I consider it
transplanting rocks :)  I think they help to retain heat and moisture and
keep the soil in place.  

We don't have summer rains so I have to irrigate the yard with a fire hose
in order to keep up with the drying wind.  One problem I have is that my
flower beds are a real patchwork so everything gets water or no water and it
is survival of the fittest.  I am trying to at least have sections for the
different water requirements.


-----Original Message-----
From: []
On Behalf Of
Sent: Sunday, November 25, 2012 12:29 PM
Subject: Re: [pbs] Bearded Iris & Mulch

I do mulch my bearded iris.  I use a ground pine bark mulch, applied  at a
depth of about two inches in the spring, which disappears (breaks down  &
blows away) by fall to a thin layer; by the following spring there is bare
My bearded iris are grown at my property south of where I live.  They  are
on a slight slope, in very thin soil, in the open.  The bed is  surrounded
by the native stones that came out of the bed.  Without mulch,  the soil
would be very dry and would blow away; the surface become very dust  like.  
They never receive supplemental irrigation outside of rain, except for new
individual plants at installation time.
Have you ever noticed at the garden centers in the spring, there are many
bearded iris available for sale in full bloom?  And then suddenly they just
"disappear?"  Look behind the store...they've all rotted being too  deep and
too wet in "potting mix" and with poor garden center  culture.
In-ground, especially in my situation, they do just fine with mulch.   But 
I do not have experience with leaves as mulch.
Also, deer do eat bearded iris.  All winter they eat the foliage to  mere
nubs (normally our winters are mild enough to keep the bearded iris
evergreen or at least partly so).  They continue eating them until a more
preferred food greens-up in the spring.  However, they continue to eat the
flower stalks as they emerge.  Once the flowers are open, the deer seem to
leave the bearded iris alone, even the ones with fragrant flowers (unlike
hyacinths which they leave alone until the flowers open, I think it's the
fragrance the deer can't resist).  The deer do sample the bearded iris
flowers, like they do daffodil flowers, but never really eat them.  For
both bearded iris and daffodils, if I look long enough I can find the chewed
flowers the deer spit out.
--Jerry Lehmann
Olathe, KS, zone 5, but enjoying an unseasonable warm November afternoon out

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