Any idea why my iris won't bloom?

Thomson, GA

I planted an iris I bought on eBay (before I found Dave's); it's been so long I can't remember for sure but I seem to remember it was a German Iris,. When it didn't bloom the first year I thought, well, what did I do wrong. Turns out I planted it too deep, I learned. When I dug it to fix that problem, I discovered that it had many new tubers and I divided it and planted both groups of tubers as directed by the iris experts on Daves. I understand it sometimes takes a year for them to adjust to a new location, so I waited. Three years now, no blooms. Absolutely gorgeous foliage that looks lush and very healthy, and it is obvious that both clumps have multiplied A LOT! Did I get a dud? Could it be something besides an iris? I bought some kind of lily once on eBay that turned out to be a pregnant onion, LOL.

Salem, IL(Zone 5b)

Can you furnish a pic of the foliage and the way you planted the rhizomes?

Thomson, GA

I will get some pics tomorrow. When I replanted them, I made sure the rhizomes were about half above ground, I remember Dg's telling me they liked to sunbathe. I can still see the rhizomes if I pull the foliage away (it's very dense). I wish I could remember what I bought them as; it's been so long and it may not even make a difference - was it a German iris or Japanese? I have even treated these babies with Messenger, hoping that would spur them to bloom. No luck. I appreciate any help.

At least the foliage is pretty.

Thomson, GA

Here's a pic of one of the replanted clumps. This one gets almost full sun, the other one gets some afternoon shade. Both clumps are about the same size, and earlier this spring before they got so dense, it was apparent that these were the"daughters", as the center was empty and surrounded by four plants.

Please excuse the weeds; it's all I can do to do a little every day, and right now the veggie garden is taking most of my time. That and my little helper.

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Thomson, GA

Miss Emily was telling her baby doll how much she liked the daylilies. What a joy to have a grandchild (17 months) that shares my appreciation for flowers. I love her "oohs" and "aahs". She tries to say "pretty" but it sounds more like "kitty".

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Salem, IL(Zone 5b)

That is interesting. The pic shows a healthy, disease free plant. Leaves show good color
but are a bit small for this time of the year. A very wild guess would be plant nutrition. The
plant is not storing the proper nutrients for blooming. Maybe some of the members in the
south east will come in and give you a better diagnosis.

They normally should be in full bloom by the second year after planting. Roughly 40% will
bloom the first year after planting. You are well within the usda zone requirements and
irises do not require a chill time so there is no obvious reason why they will not bloom.

Thomson, GA

Thanks for that response, I had not considered that as an issue. I feed all my flowering plants routinely, e.i, bimonthly, with Miracle Grow for flowering plants. The soil is clay & rock amended with composted cow manure, which has improved the texture of the surrounding soil tremendously; I actually have earthworms now! Think I should have the soil tested?

Salem, IL(Zone 5b)

From what I have picked up from this forum and others, it would or could be the PH of the
soil. If the PH is skewed too far either way, plants cannot take up nutrients regardless of
the amount in the soil. Take it from a person who limed azaleas. It took about 3 years of
sulphur and bone meal to get them started.

Again, this is just an unsupported guess. Try checking with other gardeners in your area.
Soil tests are always beneficial if obtained at a reasonable cost.

Prescott, AZ(Zone 7a)

I think a soil test is a good idea, too.

If I am not mistaken, it is not an uncommon practice to apply "Bulb Booster" or some other good source of phosphorous annually. Phosphorous is the main macronutrient associated with flowering and fruiting. This might be a good time to do it.

Cocoa Beach, FL(Zone 10a)

If you would like someone to test a rhizome, I would be willing to try an experiment to see if it would bloom here in NY. Just mail to me in a bubble envelope. I have a few others I am testing to see if I can match up for correct identity.

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Hannibal, NY(Zone 6a)

Just a thought, but when you divided it, did you plant the individual rhizomes, or did you just divide it into smaller clumps. It looks to me like it needs division.

Thomson, GA

I divided the one large clump and replanted the two resulting individual rhizomes in two separate locations on opposite sides of the yard, using the instructions I received from DG'ers here. That was two years ago and I am still waiting for the first blooms. :( I was told it may take a couple years for them to recover from being relocated? If you'all think they need to be divided again, I can do that and I will be glad to send you one, Pollly. I probably won't be able to get to it until the weekend, though. Thanks for all the help!

Taylorsville, KY

I know you are pressed for time to weed, but only the hardiest iris will bloom if grass is growing in it. I had an entire row that did not bloom this year because I wasn't able to weed the grass out of it! A row I planted the same time that I did get weeded bloomed like crazy. Could be just another peice of the puzzle.

Prescott, AZ(Zone 7a)

I'm curious; what's on the other side of the fence? Is it a pet area?

Thomson, GA

Okay - ph is 6.5. I think that's pretty normal, right? I will get some more weeding done tomorrow and Thursday if all goes as planned ( I have Miss Emily this weekend so no "real" gardening will get done then, LOL). Steve, the area just on the other side of the fence is actually one of the few places in the back yard that is off limits to the pets. It was previously just yard, but last fall we sectioned off the area for a small raised bed in which we grew some fabulous onions this spring, and I have just turned over the soil to try to decide what to do with it next. It is fenced w/chicken wire to prevent the kitty from using it as a litter box when she's outside.

But since you mention it, I am wondering if the neighbor dogs are tinkling on my irises. My dog is the only one in the entire community that is fenced in 24/7/365. We have no leash law in the county, and I don't really have a big problem with it, but since both plants are on the opposite corners of the lot, they would be in logical places for the doggies to sprinkle. They usually find the tires on my van, but who's to say they aren't spreading it around.

Hannibal, NY(Zone 6a)

I'd like Dee to take a look and see what she recommends. To me it looks like it needs to be divided. I'll ask Dee to come over.

Prescott, AZ(Zone 7a)

Doggie tinkle is a rich source of nitrogen. It looks like there is a sort of path worn to this corner as if there is some traffic.

Dividing will probably help. Remember to add some phosphorus.

Lebanon, OR

Well upon looking at the area closely here is what I would recommend, first sometime this summer July, August, Sept, dig them, get them in an area where you have more control on weeds, animals and DIVIDE them. Iris do not like to get too crowded. This is why commerical growers must divide at least every 1-2 years.

If you have any further questions please dmail me and I will answer, until July 1 because then I start digging all the commerical orders. I have 3 acres, bearded all sizes, siberian, japanese, spuria, daylilies, lilies, seedlings of others.

Hope this helps you.

D

Thomson, GA

Thanks so much for all the great advice. The more I look at it, the more I am thinking that there are a multitude of issues here, most of which will be corrected by digging up, dividing and relocating them. I am really jealous, since my daughter moved into a home 5 years ago with several iris beds, has never touched them and was loaded with blooms every year. I hope my granddaughter has more interest in gardening than my darling daughter does. Her idea of interest in the garden is asking when the cucumbers and tomatoes will be ready.


Hannibal, NY(Zone 6a)

I bet she will. It seems to skip a generation. My daughter does do some gardening, not much, but her daughter, aged 7 is just crazy about it, and loves iris. She even told her mother how to plant an iris, like a duck sitting on water, Mommy.

Lebanon, OR

Polly
You would think with as much as I have that my daughter would have a little interest NOT, but like you my grand daughter loves to garden, does not matter what...she also is one of the best in the business of iris rhizome cleaners:) I put that almost 12 year old against any one as far as getting them and quickly:) At least someone, and my son loves to make crosses.

D

Hannibal, NY(Zone 6a)

It's so much fun when the younger ones are so excited about it.

Thomson, GA

Polly and Dee,
You have both given me hope...My daughter and I are very close but have no hobbies to share; she scrapbooks mostly, I garden and make jewelry. She also blames me for not teaching her how to cook. Hey, nobody taught me!! My little munchkin, 17 months old, has learned the path to not miss ANYTHING in bloom, and today she carried around a pink petunia bloom for 2 hours, put some of my first dahlia blooms in her little vase, and met the 2nd bloom open of "Lady Emily" daylily, purchased in honor of her. When I asked her what she thought of "Raspberry Pixie" and she said "Bebe" translated - "baby". She loves Grandma's garden and nothing could make me happier, except maybe when she gets older she can help me pull weeds!!

Hannibal, NY(Zone 6a)

How cute. My grandaughter has been 'tromping' through the garden since she could walk. And picking flowers. At four she began to understand not to trample. And it's been uphill since. She helps me make the tags for my irises, and helps me plant them. She picks out some of the ones she wants, and takes a piece home, and really is overjoyed when they bloom.

Don't hold your breath on the weeds though. Both my granchildren find that BORING. How I hate that word, LOL.

Prescott, AZ(Zone 7a)

Sometimes the gardening bug takes a while to bite.

My parents grew vegetables in rows when I was I child. No flowers; just long rows of stuff I didn't care for. In retrospect, I think they saw gardening as another chore. And in midlife they gave it up. But I remember visiting my grandfather in Ohio when the snow was deep on the ground. He proudly descended into his cellar and brought up six apples which he lovingly cut into sections pronouncing their names "Winesap, Jonathan, Cortland, ... " There was a love of growing things there that was undeniable. But through my childhood and early adult years I found gardening BORING.

Then, when I was 35 I discovered a little gardening center that I thought was really cute. And I fell in love with the smell of fragrant flowers. I started with fragrant confederate jasmine which grew like topsy in Austin TX, filling the air with fragrance. I tried lilies, daffodils, old roses. And had success with a few. Once in a while I try vegetables. And on rare occasions I have succeeded. The basil in my new raised beds is flowering and filling the air with its own fragrance. And the shallots I planted last fall are blooming.

The most odious of chores in the garden, I think, is weeding. And I have come to look forward even to that simply because I love to be in the garden!

Thomson, GA

LOL, Steve, I SO get it. When I was a child I couldn't understand why I was being tortured by being dragged out of bed at 6 am to pick field peas and butterbeans at my uncle's farm, so early of course because any later and we melted in the SC July heat and humidity. Why couldn't we just buy them at the store? They usually found me hiding in a row of tomatoes with juice running down my chin. A privileged only child, of farm-grown parents who grew up raising not only their own veggies, but meat as well, I didn't appreciate any of it until my late 30's. I have always loved growing flowering plants, a double green thumbitis inherited from grandparents who were masters at making stuff grow, but until moving here I never had room or time to plant in earnest. Now even my semi-retired DH has turned into Farmer Vince, only lacking the overalls. He still doesn't know what he's doing but he loves to piddle. And he is crazy over all my flowers, very supportive of my never-ending need to fill every single spot with something blooming, as long as I find time to bring in some so he can admire them while in the house.

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Raleigh, NC

Guardians, I just found this post, and I didn't read all the way to here.

has anyone suggested to you to get rid of your iris and try again from a reputable grower? Irisloverdee sells. so do several others on here.

I think she is being polite too, as she was the one that first alerted me to the fact that there are folks on ebay that sell mislabeled and dud irises. fact is, irises grown from seeds are sometimes non-blooming. Duds. hybridizers I know have used this number often: only about 1 in 1,000 iris seedlings is good enough to keep.

you've spent so much time on these - but I usually get bloom (about 60-80%) that first spring.

get the weeds under control - that will stop some blooming - but also while you're at it, get some good plant stock.

Oak Lawn, IL(Zone 5a)

Bonjon has offered excellent advice here.

Thomson, GA

Wow, I never even considered that. It makes perfect sense. Well, I guess later on I will dig these up and move them elsewhere, if for nothing other than their lovely foliage. I know the perfect spot!! I am planning to tidy up the beds all around the fence with additional mulch and widening some to create more of a buffer from the grass (centipede does love to travel). I want to plant some more lilies this fall, and I am sure I will be checking out the members here that sell Irises.

I have gotten some real deals on eBay, flower wise, and obviously some questionable acquisitions. Imagine getting a lily bulb among others that never blooms and won't stay in the soil in the pot, but keeps climbing out and looking weird with a 4' long flower stem and frond-like bloom! That was my reason for visiting Dave's the first time, only to discover my lily was in fact a pregnant onion. Thank goodness I had planted it in a pot and kept it inside! LOL .Thanks so much for all the help. I really think this is the answer that makes the most sense.

Raleigh, NC

here's a hint Guardian - anyone that labels it "german iris" has a high probability of NOT being an irisarian!

centipede grass will choke any flowerbed. I've had bermuda grass - same thing. and it's especially impossible with roses and irises, because those are my two favorites. you'll need to edge your flowerbeds with a very very deep edging that the grass cannot penetrate. even in our hardpan clay soil, a creeping grass can spread by going six or more inches deep and under any edging.

then keep the grass trimmed such that it doesn't go over the top of the edging, too. good luck. irises DO NOT LIKE creeping grass around them. it strangles.

we have so many golf courses here in NC, the dang birds poop out viable bermuda seed EVERYWHERE. LOL!

Hannibal, NY(Zone 6a)

I respectfully have to disagree with you on one point Bonjon. All irises will bloom given the proper conditions. All plants that bloom have what's called mRNA, messenger RNA that is inherent in the plant. If a plant has mRNA, which all irises do, they will bloom. Maybe not every year, and certainly not under adverse conditions, but the ability to bloom is there. Whether it was started from a seed or a division it has the ability to bloom. Some plants with the mRNA to bloom only bloom every 20 years or so, (not irises), but they do bloom. In fact there's one, I forget what, that blooms like every twenty years and then dies.

I totally agree that some irises are inferior, and will not bloom well for a lot of people. And that is why we should buy from a reputable company. (Such as one that just made the top five on Garden Watchdog, LOL).

Raleigh, NC

great Polly! didn't know that. any reason then so many seedlings go so many years without blooming? Keith Keppel once told me that a seedling that didn't bloom for 3 years was a dud and to toss it out. maybe he meant, in terms of being useful for his purposes, i.e. hybridizing? or maybe I didn't hear him right - that's always possible, with my bum hearing.

Lebanon, OR

Polly

You are so right. Iris (bearded and beardless) will grow and bloom, it is in the genetic makeup of the plant. Some iris have taken as long as 3 to 4 years to bloom. One such for me was a TB named Woodwine, and it is not to my liking so it will go on the compost this year.

All plants including our wonderful weeds will bloom, some have such tiny blooms that you can not see them unless under a microscope but they are there trust me on weeds!

Now as to ebay there are many super sellers on there that are as honest as the day is long and try hard for the best of the best!

Then there are a few that are dishonest and buy nothing but NOID iris themselves and sell them under a stolen picture from many of the big growers and hybridizers and most are the old fashioned no name iris in purples, whites, yellows and lavender.

You, as a buyer must do the research before being drawn into the auctions. Know the seller, know your iris as best as you can...

Hope this helps you and thank you Polly for the genetic tag as I knew it was there, just could not think about what the name was now with the wedding less than 10 days away now and the bride has lost her brains LOLOL Just nervous and she was not at all the first time.

D

Lebanon, OR

Bonjon

Keith feels any iris that does not bloom in 3 years is of no use to him for either commerical or hybridizing reasons. Not that the iris will never bloom, just not in a timely fashion for him.

You have to remember many of the super great hybridizers are getting up in years and they do not have the time or patience to wait...

D

Oak Lawn, IL(Zone 5a)

Sort of reminds me of the 17-year cicada. LOL!

Hannibal, NY(Zone 6a)

Bonjon,

I'm sure as Dee said, Keppel meant for his purposes. Some plants just don't have the good genetic makeup others do. Like some irises bloom reliably every year, some don't. It's the same for every category of plant, shrub, tree, perennials, etc. A wisteria with bad genetic composition may not bloom in your lifetime, but it does have the capacity to bloom.

As you can imagine plants are set up to continue the species in nature. To do so, they have to bloom, so they can set seed. Otherwise they would be extinct. It's just in the makeup.

Over on daylilies they have a list going of who the ebay sellers are that are also on DG. I think it would be nice if we did a thread on that. So we could recognize the DG people and know they are good.

Personally I never buy on ebay as I don't know who the sellers are. I only buy from the growers. I do realize there are good sellers on ebay, but I don't know them. And it seems the ones on ebay are often more expensive then the ones from the growers. And that makes no sense, but I still see people bidding on them.

Hannibal, NY(Zone 6a)

figaro52, is that the one that blooms then dies? And stinks?

Oak Lawn, IL(Zone 5a)

pollyk -- you're certainly right about that!! Talk about bacterial soft rot!

Hannibal, NY(Zone 6a)

That's the one I was talking about then! I couldn't recall the name. Thanks!

Midland, TX(Zone 8a)

Phospherous! Nitrogen grows that lush folage and phosphate means lots of blooms. In an 8-10-2 fromula in a product like Perfectly Natural Bulb and Boom Booster it is the middle number. Do NOT put high nitrogen grass and lawn fertilizer on your iris because that will just grow more leaves. Put something with a high middle number. Miracle Grow Bloom Booster has a high phosphate formula -- 15-30-15 . Super Phospate is another product that can be worked into the soil. Fertilize with a high phophate product and I bet you will have blooms next year whether you divide or not. When I have time, I fertilize iris with a high middle number in the early summer, fall, and on Valentine's Day in my zone. There are a multitude of bloom booster products on the market and they are good for pansies, geraniums, etc.

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