Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
10 ratings

Saturday - October 06, 2007

From: Round Rock, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Herbs/Forbs
Title: Difficulties in growing iris in Central Texas
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in Round Rock TX. I would like to plant Irises and have failed before. What type of irises grow best here? When should I plant them and should I add something to the soil to help them grow?

ANSWER:

Let's talk first about native or non-hybridized iris. There are 26 irises native to North America in our Native Plant Database. Of these, only 4 were shown to be found in Texas. Most of them seemed to favor the West Coast, or cool, wet areas. The four irises tough enough to grow in Texas are Iris brevicaulis (zigzag iris), Iris fulva (copper iris), Iris hexagona (Dixie iris), and Iris virginica (Virginia iris).

But, perhaps you were thinking of the Iris germanica, bearded iris. This USDA Plant Profile link refers to the I. germanica as "introduced"; that is, not native to North America. The USDA Plant Distribution Map at the same web location does not show Texas as one of the states where it is distributed. Of course, we know that many gardeners grow it here, but that perhaps gives us a clue to why it seems hard to do so. This site from Floridata will give you more information on the culture of I. germanica. It apparently began as a natural hybrid between I. pallida and I.variegata. Iris germanica is thought to be native to Southern Europe and the Meditteranean, and other species from Europe and Asia have been brought into the breeding, but it has become established all over the temperate world and can be found on road shoulders and old home sites throughout much of the United States and Europe. There are literally thousands of different irises, many of them with commercial cultivar names.

Now, we begin to see the value of using native plants, as promoted by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. When you are dealing with a hybridized and/or non-native plant, you have no idea what characteristics it has bred into it, nor of the ideal way to grow it. With plants native to the area in which you are gardening, you don't have to make as many adjustments in water, fertilizer or even soil content, because you likely already have good conditions for the native plant to flourish.

 


Iris brevicaulis

Iris fulva

Iris hexagona

 

 

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Apples, pears and geraniums in Kipling, Saskatchewan
March 30, 2013 - My geranium's leaves became yellow - Why? Where can I buy a good nice apple tree? Will apples and pears grow in south Saskatchewan?
view the full question and answer

Need source of plants for making teas in Bend, Oregon.
July 08, 2012 - I love to make my own tea, just moved to central Oregon and want to know some good plants I can find anywhere in town and can use in my teas.
view the full question and answer

Shade ground cover under honeysuckle from Wichita KS
February 21, 2012 - Hi! I know this is a bit odd, but I am trying to find a nontoxic, good ground covering plant that can live in the shade while competing with the roots of a whole bunch of honeysuckle. I have a few ide...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover Suggestion for OK
April 24, 2015 - I need your suggestion for a groundcover for a flower bed in the sun and in the shade in Oklahoma.
view the full question and answer

Effects or insecticide on Monarch butterflies
July 28, 2013 - Thank you for fielding questions about plants!! Our nursery just informed us that their milkweed grower was using imidacloprid in their milkweed production. As a follow up to the question already in...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.