You Bet Your Garden

Do you have a caterpillar plaguing your iris?

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July 21, 2012 — Beautiful bearded iris are outstanding garden plants, but they are plagued by the pest known as the iris borer. Mike McGrath tells you how to outwit this hungry, hungry caterpillar. Plus the latest news on honeybees with Dr. Bill Quarles of the Bio-Integral Resource Center; and answers to all your growing questions.

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Question of the Week

I have written you before with much success, and am hoping you can help me this time. I have iris plants all throughout my gardens, in front and back. I thought that this spring’s wet weather was to blame for the buds not opening on some, as the stalks looked brown and very wet. I have since come to discover that these plants are “infected” with what appears to be an iris borer worm. The Ortho Problem Solver book helped me identify it, but now I don’t know what to do, because I refuse to use the chemicals they recommend. (McGrath here: Thank you for that decision, Gayle!) Any suggestions you can provide would be much appreciated. Thank you in advance from a broken hearted Iris-lover, Gayle in Buckingham, PA. P.S.: There is a wonderful lady near Upper Black Eddy, PA who has the most lovely (and huge) iris garden. When it blooms, she sends a notecard to those who have signed up and you can visit, pick out the irises you love, and she will graciously dig some up—for a price, of course. The flowers are perfect and she happily shares her growing knowledge. I haven’t been there for a few years, but with this problem, I think I’ll have to visit her next year (I believe the name is ‘River Valley Iris Garden’.) Oh, and here’s a photo of some of my beauties, now gone but not forgotten. Thank you for all of your help. Get the answer »

Photo by Flickr user Bob Gutowski



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