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I Purchased Some Iris Bulbs From Breck’s, But Didn’t Plant…

Tom Asked

I purchased some iris bulbs from Breck’s, but didn’t plant them in time. Can I keep them over the winter and plant them in the spring? If so do I have to refrigerate them?

The Gardener’s Answer

Hello, Tom in Wisconsin: Iris are technically rhizomes. They belong to a very large genus comprising of over 200 species. They provide nice color in the garden during the late spring/early summer months. Not to worry about storing your bulbs, you have not missed your opportunity to get them in the ground. Even in the northern climates October is still a fine time to plant, unless of course the ground is already frozen. As a general rule, iris rhizomes do not do well when stored for the winter. They tend to rot and are better off planted in the ground or even a container outdoors under not so optimal conditions rather than being stored. Tropical bulbs are a different story since we have no other option, but hardy bulbs/rhizomes are pretty tough and have certainly been planted later in the winter and still survived. So, given that you have time to get them in the soil be certain to find space in the garden that is well-drained and remains fairly dry during the summer months. Planting these bulbs at the proper depth is important; they only need to be 2 inches deep and the top of the bulbs can be sitting at soil level. Water in to encourage root growth.

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