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Sun, Jan. 19

Time to buy, then plant, iris rhizomes at weekend sale

Rhizome sale

Rhizome sale

This year’s annual Rhizome Sale, hosted by the Prescott Area Iris Society, takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Yavapai Title – both indoors and in the parking lot, 1235 E. Gurley St. – on Saturday, July 30, and noon to3 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 1.

Iris 101: How to grow iris

The best time to divide and transplant rhizomes in Prescott is in July to early August. Iris produce the best blooms when clumps are divided every three years.

Dig up the clumps and divide by breaking off rhizomes from each other. Replant only the largest fans (leaves), trimming the fans to 4-6 inches. After watering the hole and waiting a day, plant rhizomes no closer than 18 inches apart in a mix of forest compost and garden dirt.

Water two or three times a week, letting the soil dry out between watering, until you see new leaves, then water once or twice a week. The rhizome needs time to root before the first freeze, which could be as early as mid-September in the Prescott area; it takes a minimum of three weeks to root.

People stopping by the sale can find information on how to adjust the usual guidelines for growing iris to adapt to Prescott’s altitude, soil and growing season. Sellers will answer questions from any beginner or experienced grower, and free handouts on caring for irises are available.

During the annual Spring Show and Exhibition, irises are displayed in full bloom, and buyers can see exactly what the flowers look like. The Rhizome sale offers the same look at blossoms, but in photo form, to identify what they want. Some iris will be available in pots.

“Several hundred varieties of unique, colorful irises from historic favorites to recently hybridized irises are available at bargain prices. Photos of the blooms are displayed for easy selection,” the PAIS website states. The nonprofit club is open to all.

Members reduce their over-crowded beds and donate rhizomes to the club, where volunteers separate and mark them for sale. PAIS prices the rhizomes based on how recently the variety was introduced.

These sales support the group’s Community Outreach Programs, which include the Marcusen Sculpture Garden at Yavapai College, Embry– Riddle Aeronautical University Memorial Gardens, Sharlot Hall Museum, Citizen Cemetery, and horticultural education programs in local schools.

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