Monday, July 19, 2021

Re-plant at Smokin Heights 2021/22

By Mel Schiller

During our last blog post in January 2021, we were in the middle of digging and trimming irises and getting ready for re-plant in South Australia.

We have now completely finished re-plant for this season. Give it a few months and standard dwarf bearded irises will be blooming. It is crazy how fast the days are going by.

This past season we were not overly happy with a section of the iris field and the way rhizomes were growing. We shifted fresh soil from around our property into this area. 

Once the soil was smoothed over our dog Aura inspected it.

The soil consisted of top soil with some clay for added benefit to rhizomes. At planting time we also top dress fertilizer so that it is worked into the soil prior to planting.


We completed trimming iris fans by the time the soil was ready to plant in. Rainfall has been extremely low so we needed to water the ground by hand to get some moisture in before tilling could be done.

Once the ground is prepared we lay water drip line down to work as a guide to get rows planted straight.


Mel plants the field while Bailey organizes all rhizomes into categories to reflect our catalogue. This makes varieties so much easier to find!

We plant all the irises by hand. We cannot plant rhizomes on the surface because the searing hot sun will scald and burn them. We get much better results if each rhizome is pushed into the ground tip first and the soil smoothed out behind the rhizome. The rhizome is around 1 cm under dirt.  We cut old venetian blinds into pieces for labels or plastic display tags.  Venetian labels are written with Hobbytex (an Australian-made craft paint that comes in a ballpoint tube) and the plastic tags with pencil. 

Because the ground hasn't had water on it for many months the soil becomes hydrophobic. Water from the dripline system eventually gets moisture into the ground. 

This field is now home to tall bearded irises only. The other varieties are elsewhere on the property this season! We ran out of room.......😏

We place rows of water dripline about a foot apart, with a wider walkway between rows. This season we planted each variety of iris 2 rhizomes wide, staggering as we go.  

Each row was then top dressed with a pre-emergent herbicide and we timed it beautifully. Shortly after we received some much needed rain which fell at exactly the right time. The irises and pre-emergent were watered in by rainfall. The pre-emergent stops germination of self-seeding weeds by putting a barrier on the soil. Since irises are not germinating, the pre-emergent does not affect them in any way. 

Sunrise is an especially beautiful time of day. Colours of the new day are gorgeous and there are few noises except birdlife and the surrounding animals. I find it an important way to start my day!

My eldest son and brother to Bailey working up the area where we needed more room for irises....😜

Bailey is now working on this season's catalogue and he will be starting to update the website shortly. With bloom around 3 months away time is flying by and the gardens still need to be maintained. Keep an eye on our Facebook page "Smokin Heights" for regular updates and to follow our bloom season. 


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