soil for miniature iris

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  #1  
Old 11-01-08, 02:00 PM
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Question soil for miniature iris

Wild miniature iris grow on the edge of a wooded area leading to our home. I am trying to use native plants around our property, so have just purchased some miniature iris bulbs (Iris reticulata).
They look very similar to what is growing along side our gravel road, so I hope they will thrive. We had some excavation done where I want to plant, so there is little to no topsoil....just clay earth. I know this clay soil needs to be amended prior to planting. I have the following available: potting soil, peat moss, and of course all the clay "soil". I can mix a big batch of these
ingredients. My questions are: Should I use all three ingredients and in what proportions? Also, lets say I plant a group of 3 bulbs (4 inches apart, 2-3 inches deep). How big of a hole do I dig up and fill with this amended soil mixture? thanks
 
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Old 11-01-08, 03:31 PM
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Hi Frogtoes,

The best way to improve clay soil is to add organic matter such as rotted leaves or compost. A 3'' or 4" layer mixed into the planting bed will help with drainage.

Iris reticulata are native to the Caucasus Mountains and into Iran. You don't say where you live, but if you are in the US, these aren't native there.

I wouldn't use peat moss as once dry, it's difficult to rewet, it's low in nutrients and has a low pH. Potting soil isn't soil but a soil-less mix that is peat moss based. Most potting soils today have a slow release fertilizer in them and that wouldn't be good for your iris. Since these plants grow on the edge of a woodland, they would prefer rotted organic material as I mentioned above.

Newt
 
  #3  
Old 11-01-08, 04:45 PM
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Thanks for such a quick response. I live in Oregon. Our property is surrounded by douglas fir (our wooded area includes the firs, viney maples, sword ferns, salal, a few trillium, and other forest plants.)...I guess what I meant was I am trying to plant what I see growing in the wild surrounding/near our property. I shouldn't assume they are native.....those iris I see are wild, but are they native? I'm stuck with the bulbs I purchased, so it will be interesting to see if they survive.

So, I do have some shredded bark that I was using for ground covering. The remaining pile is at least 5 years old and looks somewhat rotted......would that be better to mix half and half with the existing clay soil? Or just plant the bulbs in a pocket of pure rotted shredded bark?(I'm planting on a slope so that should help drainage some too.) Appreciate your input. thanks again.
 
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Old 11-02-08, 09:18 AM
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Frogtoes, you are so very welcome! Since you have an aged pile of shredded bark, what would be best is if you can use what is near the bottom of the pile. It would be well rotted and the nutrients from the pile rotting above it would probably still be there. If it it's a big pile, start at one end and start with the edges, using what is there right down to the soil level. Try and spread it out so all the planting bed you are doing will have some that is from the bottom and some that is from the top. Then mix that in. Sounds like great stuff.

I plant mostly natives, but I also plant what isn't native as long as it's not invasive. I also have the same iris, so you'll still have the look you want. If you would like to seek out native plants, these links should be helpful.

Native Plant Society of Oregon.
NPSO - Home page

Oregon Flora Photo Gallery has some great pics and good info. It has an atlas of where plants are distributed in the state.
Oregon Photo Gallery

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is located in Texas, but has pics and info on different regions and what might be in bloom and when. It also has good articles and is home of the Native Plant Information Network (NPIN) where you can search for info on native plants.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin

At this site you can search for wildflowers by color, location and more. It doesn't have all states, but it does have pics and info on wildflowers in Oregon.
Photographs of wildflowers, native plants, trees, landscapes

I realize I've used the words 'native' and 'wildflower', but I want to clarify that just because a plant is a wildflower, doesn't mean it's a native plant.

Hope that helps,
Newt
 
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