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Agriculture Today

Age not a factor when it comes to irises

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South Texas Gardener
January 16, 2013 | 4,113 views | Post a comment

Q. My neighbor gave me a bunch of old, dried-out iris bulbs that he says will grow if I just plant them. I am doubtful. Are they as tough as he says?

A. Yes, irises are a great plant for central and south Texas. They have attractive, evergreen foliage and magnificent blooms in February (Cemetery) or March (Dutch or German). Irises are drought-tolerant and deer-proof.

Plant the rhizomes in a sunny location where water does not accumulate. A key-planting requirement is to place the rhizomes in the ground so that the top is level with the soil surface. They do not do well in soggy soil or if buried too deep. For the same reason, do not mulch irises. Even rhizomes that have been out of the ground for several years can recover to bloom after one growing season.

Q. I have just retired and want to get heavily into gardening to fill my time. I will garden more at home, but what are the best organizations to join?

A. Every year I produce a Gardening Resolution article that lists lots of ways to use your gardening skills and interests to meet the gardener’s needs and to contribute to the community. Go to or to check out the suggestions.

Check with your local school and/or gardening club to see what they do. You can also join the closest Master Gardener chapter. Master Gardeners offer great training and volunteer opportunities in youth education, beautification projects, and environmental programs. Chapters exist in Bexar, Comal, Gonzales, and Guadalupe counties. Call the respective county courthouses or Google the chapter for contact and enrollment information. Master gardeners are affiliated with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

Calvin Finch is a horticulturist and the director of the Water Conservation and Technology Center at Texas A&M-San Antonio. Hear him on “Gardening South Texas” on KLUP 930 AM radio Saturdays noon to 2 p.m., and 1-3 p.m. Sundays. Or, email him at

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