Pacific Coast Iris

Kathleen Sayce
Fri, 10 Feb 2012 09:33:37 PST
The Society for Pacific Coast Native Iris is redoing its website this year, and one of the topics under discussion right now is promoting good plant handling practices by commercial growers. From what I've been reading on this group site, we do need to post a best practices section for commercial growers on our new website.

Several commercial growers ship PCIs in pots, sending them out only when plants are actively growing and have sturdy roots. I've been the recipient of plants in pots and bare root plants both, and the potted ones do much better in my garden. Granted, I live within the native range of at least one species in this group, and garden on sand, which is an advantage. 
As for gardeners like Ernie in NY, yes, growing from seed, and starting with our hardiest species, I. tenax and I. innominata, is a good way to get PCI going in your gardens. The one climate that PCI cannot tolerate is very damp, hot, humid summers, which puts the southeastern US out, except at higher elevations. We have society members who have had at least some successes with PCI in most other areas of the United States that are zone 6 or warmer, and even some zone 5 growers who are in warmer microclimates.

Like a number of members, I'm doing my own hybridizing, starting with the hardiest species, to work towards showy plants that have more cold tolerance than most of the present hybrids. I recommend growing from seed to anyone outside the West Coast, unless you have a very similar climate to the coast, and a commercial grower who will ship you plants in the fall in pots, when roots are in active growth. 



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