Let's introduce ourselves forum: hello from Minnesota

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sheila
Mar 26, 2015 8:23 PM CST
I have been working on my gardens for 25 years. Five years ago I lost more than 75 iris to the iris borer after a friend brought me some iris from his mothers' grave site. Although I saved some in a different area, I am afraid to reinvest in them because of this gross and ugly worm/borer. Any advice?
ImageMuddymitts
Mar 26, 2015 10:09 PM CST
Name: Mary Ann
Kentucky
Hi Sheila -- welcome to our group! Smiling Where in Minnesota are you? My sister lives outside of St. Paul -- I've spent a lot of time in that part of the state!!

Yah -- Iris borers. I'm sorry that you lost so many Irises -- that's hearbreaking. I had a break-out when I lived in Elmhurst IL. We dug up every rhizome, and soaked them in a bucket of water with bleach in it. Pretty soon there were many ugly borers floating on the surface of the bucket. Big Yellow Grin I scraped away any damaged portion of each rhizome and replanted them. Didn't lose a single one.

I'm thinking that the Irises from your friend's mother's gravesite probably didn't have much to do with your losses. Borers are nothing more than the larvae of a moth. The moth lays her eggs in the debris surrounding rhizomes, the eggs hatch and the baby worms chew their way down through the Iris leaves and ultimately into the rhizome. That's when we usually notice them because by that time, the leaves are looking really bad because the plant is dying.

My point is -- moths fly -- and can reach any garden area that appeals to them. For you to have had 75 Irises affected, it's likely that you were the target of an especially large number of moths. Maybe a bumper year for moths that year? I'm curious -- how long had you had Irises before this happened? Also, had you ever had a borer problem before this?

There are products that you can spray on your Irises to kill any larvae that dine on your Iris leaves. However, some states are preventing the sale of some products because of environmental issues -- and many people won't use the products because they have deleterious affect on bees. Sad

So -- the best way to handle this is to be diligent about keeping your Iris beds clean. Either at the end of the season, or before growing activity in the spring, remove all leaf debris and weeds from your beds. Then, when your Iris leaves are growing -- watch them closely -- if borers are present, they damage the leaves and this damage is visible and recognizable. You can see what the damage looks like by Googling Iris Borers. If you're paying attention, you can see the borer inside the leaf by the swelling surrounding the borer, and at that point, you can squeeze the leaf and kill the borer. If you miss this stage of things, and find borer damage in the rhizome, you can do what I did -- dig up the rhizome, soak in bleach water, clean the rhizome after the borer has died, and then replant.

And you are so right -- borers are ugly and gross!!! But I hope you don't give up on Irises because of them -- Irises are too beautiful to go without. And now that you've lost some to borers, I'm betting that you'll recognize the problem quickly, if you encounter them again. There is a lot of information out there on borers -- Google will direct you to it.

Now that you've found us -- I hope you decide to stay and join us regularly. We're kinda nice!!! Whistling Big Yellow Grin
Every day is a second chance. Every day is precious time.
Imagecrowrita1
Mar 27, 2015 4:56 AM CST
Name: Arlyn
Whiteside Co, Illinois Zone 5A
I agree with Mary Ann !.....and I second her welcome. Too !!
ImageDaveinPA
Mar 27, 2015 7:53 AM CST
Name: Dave
south central PA, Zone 6a
Welcome Sheila.
Borers are often discussed on this forum, so stay tuned. I watch for what Mary Ann said but also look for "frass" around the plant which is the leftover chewed and digested plant parts. That is a sure sign. I have done similar things to Mary Ann but also have just dug around the affected rhizome, speared the critter in its newly dug hole, treated it with bleach cleanser and recovered with dirt. The treatment is to reduce chances of a bacteria getting into the freshly dug areas before it scabs over.
They do require a bit of vigilance at their busy times but irises are worth it.
ImageMShadow
Mar 27, 2015 8:31 AM CST
Name: Marilyn Campbell
Houghton Lake, MI
Welcome Sheila. Its always nice to have new iris friends. Smiling
Imageirisarian
Mar 27, 2015 9:07 AM CST
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA
irises
Hi Shelia My daughter in St. Paul gave up on irises because of the borer & she had a free sources for borer free iris (us). Obviously they are very active in the area. We keep an eye out for them & when we see wet & sticky areas along the leaf, we take a look. When found, they squash beautifully. Start with just a few plants, be alert & you can stop an infestation in its tracks.
Imagetveguy
Mar 28, 2015 4:31 AM CST
Name: Tom
Wisconsin
Welcom Shelia, Some good advice has been given. Stop buy often. Smiling

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