Monday, December 21, 2020

Winter Watch for Irises

 By Hooker Nichols

The Winter Watch season is about to begin for us particularly in the Southern states. You might ask yourselves what is he talking about? Many times people in our areas tend to continue replanting irises until near time for the first frosts.

Image by Jeanette Graham

Here in northern and eastern Texas we have an average first frost or freeze date of November 22. They usually even bloom the following spring. Keep a constant watch for any late plants heaving out of the ground due to constant freezing and thawing of the soil. If this happens, just gently step on the rhizomes and push them back into the ground.

Now is the time to plant your iris seeds. This will ensure that the young plants will not germinate prematurely and be killed by the freezing temperatures. Be sure to keep your seedbeds slightly moist through the winter.

For you who are hybridizers, this is the time we plan our future spring crosses. Be sure to use only irises which have the best growth and blooming characteristics in future endeavors. You should pay closest attention to bud count and branching.

Reblooming characteristics may be incorporated too. For those of you who are exhibition fans, remember that a Best of Show specimen begins the moment you plant that iris in your garden the previous year. Winter garden care is the key to wonderful spring bloom. Wishing all a safe holiday season and a better outlook for Spring 2021.

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