Iris--TOW foliage

Robt R Pries
Fri, 12 Mar 2004 08:03:04 PST
While I won't defend Iris foliage here in Missouri, I would like to point out that Tall-bearded species and hybrids can have quite stunning foliage in certain climates under certain conditions. In the Southwest, given some irrigation, I have heard that the foliage maintains a very beautiful blue-green due to a higher glaucous coating and lack of fungal diseases. Unfortunately collectors often have so many iris the swordlike foliage which can add to a planting can become tedious when that is all that is planted. Iris pallida is considered one of the better species for maintaining decent foliage. Unfortunately many bearded species suffer from being removed from their sunny native habitats. I can think of many alpines that grow out of their form because they are not grown hard or cool enough in our gardens.
I have seen pictures of some of the Iris xrobusta in Germany that have totally purple plants in the spring. We only see a taste of this here with some purple at the bases. Obviously in an ideal cool spring the foliage can be quite impressive.
Since Iris come from a full range of habitats, often at some elevation in the dryer mountains of the Western Orient, we should probably withhold judgement on the quality of the plant when it's prefered requiremnts are rarely met. Nonetheless they still are remarkably tolerant for the most part and their blooms are reasonably exotic.

James Waddick <> wrote:
>Iris - NOT a genus noted for its beauty of foliage, although there are a few
>exceptions (I. confusa and allies, and some of the variegated ones are OK).

Dear John et al;
I know this is a taboo topic, but I agree pretty much with 
John. The tatty, down right nasty foliage of most bearded iris during 
most of the garden season is a serious reason for banishing them from 
the garden. There are some gorgeous variegated foliage forms of I 
laevigata (in the pond), I ensata and others.
I am fond of the giant tufts of I lactea even out of bloom 
and as tan features in the winter garden. In spring the foliage pulls 
off fairly easily as new growth appears.

Gardeners often forget that after bloom the foliage can hang 
around for a long long time and be an eyesore.

Hybridizers hardly ever consider foliage characters, or all 
season garden quality, alas.

best Jim W.
Dr. James W. Waddick
8871 NW Brostrom Rd.
Kansas City Missouri 64152-2711
Ph. 816-746-1949
E-fax 419-781-8594

Zone 5 Record low -23F
Summer 100F +

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