Pacific Coast Iris survival

Michael Mace
Thu, 09 Feb 2012 11:36:53 PST
To share my two cents here...

I've experimented with growing a fair number of Pacific Coast hybrid Irises
over the years.  With my heavy soil and relatively warm climate, I find that
I have to give a lot of attention to mail-order (bare root) transplants in
order to get them established.  In particular, that means preparing the soil
carefully (good drainage is needed at the start), soaking the plants in
water + fungicide before planting, and then watering with a fungicide
mixture after they go in the ground.  They have to be kept moist until they
get established.

And I can only transplant in October, at the beginning of the rainy season.

If I do all those things, most of the plants survive to bloom at least once.
But many of them mysteriously die out a couple of years after I get them, no
matter what I do.  A friend who breeds Pacificas told me that longevity is
not one of the characteristics that some of the top breeders shoot for.
Plus a lot of the breeding is done in Santa Cruz, which has one of the most
benign climates you can imagine.  He expects to lose 50% or more of the new
hybrids he obtains, and he's an expert grower.

On the other hand, some of the old classics like Drive You Wild settle in
and grow happily here for decades.…

If you can find the right cultivars, these things are incredibly rewarding
and carefree (in my climate).

So, if you're looking to grow PCI hybrids, my rules of thumb are:

--Treat for fungus.
--Rehydrate the plants before they go in the ground.
--Buy selections that have been around for a number of years, rather than
the latest hot thing.

San Jose, CA (zone 9, min temp 20F / -7C)

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