We are planning a move to upstate NY, around Utica. I am bringing some iris corms from Oregon and am wondering how to take care of them and grow them in NY's climate. Any ideas? resources? Thank you.
Thanks for writing. Since you are moving from Oregon, where the climate is milder for the most part, it might be worth double-checking that your corms are going to be cold hardy to zone 5 or even colder, zone 4. If you know the species of iris you are bringing I would imagine most references will be able to tell you their cold hardiness. That being said, I would simply get them in the ground when you get here. As long as you can pierce the ground I would plant your corms about 4" down in a spot with ample sun and soil that is well draining. If you are dealing with larger bearded iris then those rhizomes need to be planted much shallower, with the top 1/3 or 1/2 of the rhizome above ground. Again, it might be worth checking the cold hardiness first. Either way, planted in the fall your iris should be able to establish enough of a root system to perform well for you next summer. As far as references to use, the American Horticultural Society puts out a number of books through DK publishing that I consider excellent reference books across the boards. They are even getting more specific with regional books and they do have one specifically on the northeast. Otherwise, when you get here ask you local garden center what books they use as references. Regarding the internet I like a website called gardenweb.com and can easily spend days reading about everyone's experiences, successes, etc.
In related news, I will be teaching an informal demonstration class on planting bulbs in containers tonight at the HSNY headquarters from 6-7:30. I will be discussing planting bulbs both indoors and out and there will be a little hands-on demontration towards the end. This program is free for HSNY members and $10 for nonmembers.