En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
4 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

It's so hot, even the Salvia greggii are sad, in Bulverde Texas
July 28, 2011 - I have several Salvia greggii in large terra cotta pots. The leaves have developed a yellowish tint and are thinning. What is the best process to get them back to full green foilage?
view the full question and answer

Need plants for a slope in KY.
September 29, 2012 - I have a slope in my back yard that is mostly a slate shelf, grass and Weeds will grow but not well, very spotty. I am wanting a ground cover that blooms. Would like to not have to mow. This is a ve...
view the full question and answer

Dying blackeyed Susans in new garden in Pennsylvania
August 26, 2008 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants! I have recently planted black eyed susans in a newly dug garden along with some cone flowers. The other flowers are doing fine but the black eyed susans have all dried up and are...
view the full question and answer

What habitat would my Antennaria solitaria like in Red Bank, TN?
October 26, 2010 - I want to know what habitat my mystery plant will like- sun, shade, dry or moist. I think it is an Antennaria solitaria or Little Pussytoes. I got it at a native plant sale here in Chattanooga. It has...
view the full question and answer

Propagation of Simsia calva from Albuquerque NM
January 27, 2014 - Hi - I was given some simsia calva seed from the LBJ wildflower center. It doesn't have a lot of info about starting the seeds, so any help is much appreciated! I tried starting some outdoors last ye...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center