I planted 15 Acidanthera bulbs in late April/early May. The foliage has come up, but the flowers have yet to show themselves. My question is, does the Acidanthera only flower every other year? or does the Acidanthera not flower the first year? Any advice or answers are appreciated.
Hardiness Zone: 5a
By Kevin from Sidney, NY
Hi Keven, If we are talking gladiolus callianthus. I have planted & lifted mine for 6/7 years now. The last two years, they have been very unproductive. This year though, I have a fair number of blooms. I think it is that the bulb has to be the right size/age, the size of a hazelnut. Too old & they're bloomed out, too small & they are immature.
Regardless of whether yours have bloomed this year, after first frost lift them & store in a cool dry spot for the winter. There should also be a lot of little pea sized bulbs you should save too. About 1/2 of these should survive to be planted next spring. If you plant in a basket, there is less chance of losing these tiny bulbs & will be able to keep planting your bulbs every year, with success when they attain the right size. This is only what I have experienced myself as I could find no help on the subject on the internet or in my many gardening books. I should also mention that I have never fertilized them per se but have usually used fresh triple mix to pot them up each year. I have attached a pic of one of my baskets (which I sink into the ground) As you can see, mine have almost finished their bloom.
Marg - Fenwick, Ontario (Cdn Zone 6)
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The irises that were planted decades ago in the backyard do blossom most years, but haven't flowered yet. Should I fertilize them in the winter? Why don't they bloom? We did have a few days under 40 degrees over Christmas, and other places I've lived in L.A. have blossomed like mad! We're at 1800 feet here, with rather acidic soil and very alkaline water. Help?
Hardiness Zone: 10a
Brandy from Los Angeles, CA
Here are some ideas:
Because your daffodils are also failing to bloom, I suspect you may have a problem with your soil. You mentioned having slightly acidic soil and very alkaline water, but you didn't mentioned what type of irises you're growing. Although most irises are pH tolerant, some perform prefer slightly acidic soil, while others prefer a neutral to slightly alkaline soil. Just to be safe, I would recommend getting a soil test done. Your county extension agency can give you more information. Tests usually only cost around $15 and the results will tell you exactly what you need to add (if anything) to correct soil problems-including problems with pH and fertility. For example, test results may recommend adding sulfur to lower the pH of your soil, or recommend adding limestone to raise it.
Your soil may also lack sufficient organic nutrients. Irises can be heavy feeders, and they don't like to compete with nearby grass, weeds, or other iris rhizomes for nutrients. A light application of fertilizer in the spring and again 4 weeks after blooming is usually more than sufficient. It is also best to avoid fertilizers high in nitrogen. Again, a soil test will provide you with specific recommendations.
Planting Depth and Spacing
Iris rhizomes prefer to sit near the top of the soil with only their roots buried below the surface. They also like to have some breathing room, and should be divided every 3-4 years when they become overcrowded. Here is a great bulletin from the UC Davis Extension Agency on growing all types of Irises.
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As soon as leaves appear in the spring, add a 20-20-20 fertilizer. (05/31/2008)
My mother in law did the same with iris. She didn't have them planted deep enough (they need to be shallow, but the bulbs were WAY out in the open). This year, I moved them over for her. I "conveniently" covered the bulbs with more dirt, and they are blooming! (05/07/2008)
Try giving them some bulb food. Sounds simple but that may be just what they need also they may not be in the right sun zone in your yard. Maybe not enough sun?
Hope that helps.
Also most commercial bulbs are ready to plant and have been refrigerated. Normally it won't require you to do that unless you pull them out of the ground and want to force them to bloom indoors after they bloom and die back.
Sorry for the 2 postings. (04/09/2008)
Make sure your iris tubers aren't planted too deeply. If you completely cover the tuber, they are reluctant to blossom. Only the end of the tuber should be under soil.
For your cold weather bulbs, a few weeks isn't long enough to trick them into thinking they've experienced a winter. They need from 10-14 weeks of refrigeration.
I live in the Los Angeles area and my iris (bearded and Japanese) are just starting to bloom. Some of my shorter ones are still not showing the flower stalks yet. The tubers need to be really almost on the surface, just half buried. I do need to put out stuff to keep pill bugs from eating them:) Also, I never put them in the refrigerator. I know tulips do and daffodils may need that done (not sure, I don't have any), but iris don't seem to need it and neither do narcissus in our climate.
Bulb food would be good because it will raise the pH in the soil around your bulbs. Most (except daffodils) prefer a more alkaline soil. As stated before, irises should be planted with the top of the rhizome just at the surface of the soil. Good luck! (04/10/2008)
Probably too deep in the soil (04/10/2008)
Sometimes bulbs won't bloom the first year they are planted. I think they may get damaged from being uplifted and replanted. I am wondering if this is true for rhizomes as well. I live in USDA zone 5b, and I've had some newly planted iris not bloom until the 2nd year. Also, as others have stated, they need to rather lay on the ground and be just a little covered with soil. Mine stick up out of the dirt. Good luck. The Iris is my favorite flower. (04/11/2008)
By Carol in PA