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       Aril & Arilbred Iris

The "secret" to growing any type of iris is to find out what works for others who have the same growing conditions and emulate their practices. There are excellent resource books available including THE WORLD OF IRIS, MAGIC OF IRISES by Barbara Perry Lawton, and THE GARDENER’S IRIS BOOK by Bill Shears. Only basic starter tips are provided here. For Aril and Aril-bred Iris, Sharon McAllister is an excellent source of information.  The irises that fall within the horticultural classes of aril and arilbred irises are so very different from each other and so variable that there must be some understanding of the entire collective group in order to grasp the particulars.

The Aril iris include five (5) groupings, with the two major groups being Oncocyclus and Regelia Irises. The Oncocyclus are true desert dwellers, found in the mountain ranges of Turkey, Iran, and the Caucasus or in the deserts of the Middle East and Asia Minor. The Regelia are more tolerant of moisture than the Oncocyclus Iris. The Regelia are not as well adapted to the desert and may be found in mountain valleys in southwest and central Asia.

The word "arilbred" refers to hybrids from crosses between the Tall Bearded iris with the Oncocyclus or the Regelia iris. It has been suggested to treat Aril Bred Iris (ABs) the same as Tall Bearded Iris (TBs) with perhaps some better drainage. ABs are more susceptible to leaf spot and rhizome rot than TBs. Beginners may want to experiment with growing ¼ breds and ½ breds before tackling the ¾ breds and the pure arils. Another wise choice is to choose varieties that have proven to be good growers.

When to Plant:  The best time for planting arilbred irises is during the dormancy period. The exact time of the year will depend on the climate. Planting during summer heat is stressful, and planting too late in the fall prior to severe winter weather is stressful. It is best to plant as summer fades into the cooler days of autumn, when the plant starts to break dormancy.

Where to Plant:  Aril and arilbreds are more difficult to grow in parts of the United States where the summers are moist. They are more easily grown in warm, dry regions of the country, especially in desert-like areas such as Arizona and New Mexico. Raised beds or sloped beds may be advantageous provided these offer good drainage. Select an area with plenty of sunshine and good drainage. In the desert and high altitude areas where the sunshine is intense, afternoon shade is suggested. Soil

Preparation:  Good Drainage is essential to growing arils and arilbred iris. If the soil is acid or neutral, add limestone to increase the pH. Arils and arilbreds prefer a more alkaline soil than do bearded iris. The alkaline soil needs to contain a good amount of calcium and magnesium, which can be obtained by using slaked lime or ground limestone. Dolomitic limestone, which contains magnesium, is especially good. The soil must be highly fertile and rich in mineral nutrients. Organic matter, such as well-prepared compost, is beneficial.

Distance Apart:  Giving them more space for circulation is suggested. These iris resent crowding.

Watering: If summers tend to be dry in your region, stop watering and allow the plants to go dormant during the hot dry months. Begin withholding water right after the blooming season. If summers are excessively wet, arils can be protected from excessive water using overhead awnings or canopies. The key to growing is providing good drainage.

Fertilizing:  Arilbreds are heavy feeders and benefit from regular fertilizing. Feeding with soluble fertilizer having high potash and phosphate rating may be useful.

Bloom Season:  Arilbred iris bloom with the Standard Dwarf and Intermediate Bearded iris.

Moving & Thinning:  Many of the arils and arilbreds increase rapidly and require dividing annually or every other year to avoid overcrowding. Again, thin and replant when summer days begin to cool and before winter days begin.

Pests & Diseases:  Arils and arilbreds are subject to the same array of diseases and pests as Tall Bearded Iris – including attacks by aphids, whitefly, iris borers and other insects, and by leaf spot, rhizome rot and other fungi, bacteria and virus.

Kalifa's Robe