Posted on | April 1, 2012 | 5 Comments
Last spring I wrote about how the March release by nurseries of Pacific coast irises tempted many — myself included — to plant the flowers in April. I put up this post-script because, having done it in 2011 after a wet winter leading into what proved a cool summer, I still saw mortality rates of 15%. Anyone trying it this April would be starting after a dry winter going into what looks like it’s going to be a hot summer. Here’s the problem: If you are watering newly planted irises as they become dormant in May and June, and given the only partially charged soil, you probably will be, it’s a perfect recipe for root rot and death. At $5 a plant, or more, there are much less dispiriting ways to waste money. So in these dewy days following our long-awaited rain, my advice is to inspect established Pacific coast irises in good native gardens, note which you like, even take pictures. Then take your shopping list to a good nursery (a Pacifica hotspot being Matilija Nursery in Moorpark) next autumn, and then plant irises when they have a long cool period to become established. These are shots of this year’s survivors from a selection of plants purchased from Matilija and the Theodore Payne Foundation in Sun Valley.