Thursday, November 24, 2011

Winter Care for Irises

Irises are flowers that grow from a rhizome.  This rhizome is planted close to the soil surface; no more than two inches bellow the soil surface.  When winter comes there may be snow and ice and if the iris is not shielded from the winter weather the rhizome may be damaged. 

Late November marks the end of autumn and soon the winter season will bring snow and ice.  This is the time to get the iris gardens ready for winter.  Care for your irises by removing the leaves, sticks, and acorns.  Then do a hand pull to remove any remaining weeds.  Protect the iris rhizome with a light organic mulch; pine needles, grass clippings or fresh wood from chipper.  

    Questions and Answers:
    Why do you apply organic mulch?  Organic mulch retains moisture, helps in preventing weed growth, provides root protection and when the mulch decomposes the nutrients improve the soil

    Why do your remove leaves from iris bed?  Leaves attract borers and rodents and these garden pests will eat the iris rhizome.  So it is best to remove all leaf matter from the iris gardens. 

    What is the best way to remove leaves from iris garden?   Removing  leaves from an iris bed is a little tricky because a conventional rake will uproot the plant.  The was best way remove the leaves is to blow them out of the garden.  Set the blower on low and slowly move the leaves out away from your plants. Slow and gentle movement will not harm the rhizome or disturb the roots.  If there are remaining leaves then go over the iris garden lightly with a metal tines rack.  By raking over the iris bed you will be able to remove the leftover leaves, sticks and acorns.  There will always be leaves leftover, that are buried in the foliage.   Remove the remaining leaves  by hand.  

    When do you weed your iris garden?

    Spot check for weeds in the garden before you apply the organic mulch.

    Irises grown and photographed by sgolis


    Remove the organic mulch from your iris garden in early spring.  Do this to prevent borers and other rhizome eating pests .

    View this video to learn more about caring for irises.


    Monday, November 14, 2011

    Landscape Trees -Planting and Buying Advice

    Buy a healthy redbud tree
    Planting a tree is not difficult however buying a healthy tree may be a little tricky.  A tree is an investment and will increase your properties value, so it is important to  buy the right tree for your landscape. 

    When it comes to buying a tree for your landscape choose from  tree roots that are wrapped in natural burlap or from trees that are grown in a nursery container. Always buy trees from a quality nursery and check the return policy and tree warranty

    I usually buy trees that are wrapped in a natural burlap covering. The wrapped root ball is easier transplant.  There is no need to remove the natural burlap root ball cover because    the roots will grow through the burlap.  This covering does not inhibit growth and because it is natural the burlap will break down in the earth over time. 

    Note: Before transplanting a tree that is wrapped in natural burlap (no wax coating) it is best to cut or pull the burlap away from the tree trunk. By doing this you will allow the tree to get air, better hydration and the tree will not become infected with insects.  Some tree experts say to clip the wires that hold the burlap in place others says to leave the wires because the roots grow out of the burlap.  I have planted trees withe the wires intact and I have also cut every other wire
    If buying a  tree grown in a container look for a healthy root that is growing outward. An indication would be roots growing out the drain holes of the container. Another way to determine a healthy tree is to look for a full tree or bush with new growth.  A tree with brown leaves or dead branches is an indication that the tree is under stress or infection. 

    Removing the tree from a container takes work. You would need to set the container on its side then roll it back and forth to loosen the soil.  Then gently pull the tree out of the container.  Loosen the roots if they are entwined and hydrate the root ball before planting by setting tree in bucket of water or hosing it down.


    Buy trees for your landscape in fall or in early spring.  Plant trees in fall a month before    a hard frost.  

    Plan on planting the tree in soil that is well drained and in a location that provides the sun/shade requirement.  

    Transplant the tree on a cool and cloudy day to prevent unnecessary stress. Water the transplanted trees well.  Continue to water throughout the growing season and in the autumn months if there is no rain. Soil is best if it is evenly moist but not wet.

    Here is a video on planting large landscape trees.