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

Retention pond from Hendersonville NC
April 24, 2012 - We have a retention pond that has recently been cleaned and we would like to plant perennial native plant and grass seeds that will enhance the appearance and contribute to the natural process of filt...
view the full question and answer

Source for Dichondra from Hillsboro TX
November 26, 2012 - Where can I get dichondra and info about it?
view the full question and answer

How to deal with wild verbena.
April 07, 2010 - Hello. I have a great 9 acres of black dirt in Dripping Springs! However now that I have cleared cedar, and then w/the great rains came...I am being taken over by wild verbena. (purple)..looks like wi...
view the full question and answer

Small plants for space between stones on a path
November 03, 2007 - We've just installed a stone path (unmortared) near our house and are looking for plants/seeds that would do well in the gaps between the flagstones. Naturally they need to be very low growing and h...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover plants for a shady North Carolina yard
March 20, 2016 - Ground cover erosion control for heavily shaded area in Cary, North Carolina. Current landscapers use strong blowers for leaf control. This blows away any seeds, loose soil and mulch. Tree roots ar...
view the full question and answer

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