Growing Dwarf Iris (MDBs) by Bob Pries et al.

'Alpine Vista' -->(MDB) Iris 'Alpne Vista'

The culture of most bearded irises is similar and easy but there are things to consider that are special with the Miniature Dwarf Irises.

  • First, they are small. Under 8 to 10 inches or 20 cm. Because of this, they can be easily overwhelmed by weeds. In the summer, if it is hot and wet, weeds will block the airflow around the dwarfs and steam them so they are susceptible to rot. Good maintenance is essential.

  • Second, Although their root systems will eventually grow deep to a foot or more, newly planted plants may take a year to achieve this and in their first winter they may be susceptible to frost heaving. If the ground remains frozen there is not problem, but alternating freezes and thaws can destroy newly planted plants. Solution, place a brick on the rhizome the first winter and check them to see if the roots have been forced out of the ground. If so, kept some spare scree soil around to cover the roots quickly.

These are probably the two main reasons for failure. But one should remember the origins of these miniature Iris. There are many Iris species that are by nature dwarf Irises. The primary species involved in most MDBs today is Iris pumila. Pumila is native to the steppes of Eastern Europe. In these short grass prairies, pumila has adapted to cold winters and hot dry summers. The short grass prairie biome of North America is very similar to these areas and extends East of the Rocky Mountains from New Mexico to Montana into Kansas, North and South Dakota and Oklahoma. Gardeners in these areas should celebrate the fact that the beautiful Iris pumila will grow easily here. Others areas need to be more aware to maintain their plants. Fortunately the mixture of species in the modern hybrids allows for a wider range of environmental tolerance. Choosing the right cultivars may also make life easier in various climates. One should always keep in touch with other growers through local clubs and the Dwarf Iris Society to learn what is best for your area. In turn your successes can help other gardeners.

If you read this, feel free to add your experiences in the comment box below.

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Interested in MDB's? Please visit the: Dwarf Bearded Iris Society website.

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Your Observations Are Valued. Please make note of bud count, branching, purple based foliage and bloom time, etc. Because these are affected by climate, note date, year and geographic location and write these and other comments in the comment box below.

 

-- Main.RPries - 2011-03-07
Topic revision: r3 - 25 Feb 2016, af.83
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