Iris miscellany

John Lonsdale
Wed, 21 May 2003 06:23:51 PDT
<<The section Limniris also include a wide range of 'beardless' irises
including 16 distinct series. One of these is the series Chinenses which had
been poorly represented in cultivation until the past few years. The most
common species is the very small, I. minutoaurea, but it is now possible to
purchase I. koreana, I. odaesanensis, I rossii and others. Also in
cultivation but not yet commercial is the smaller still I henryi and the
larger I. speculatrix.

I was told quite succinctly by at least two people, that Iris rossii is not
in cultivation in the US and that it's very difficult to grow. Is there
really a commercial source of Iris rossii here in the US? Please tell me
there is. The fine photo of I. rossii in your book Iris of China by James
Waddick and Zhao Yu-tang (which I should've mentioned in my previous
message, a "must have" for anyone interested in Iris), reveals that it's a
highly desirable species.>>

Mark et al.,

Iris rossii is indeed in cultivation in the USA, albeit barely.  Barry
Yinger (Asiatica) has imported plants from Japan and I picked up a couple
when I visited him last week.  Potted up last fall, they were the only two
showing growth among a number of pots, confirming, I think, its difficulty
of cultivation.  They are very slow into growth and will clearly need a lot
of TLC to get them established.  I. rossii has been listed by at least one
other nursery in the USA but these are actually I. ruthenica.

I also grow I. koreana and I. odaesanensis and have recently propagated
about 30 of each, by division.  They will be available later.  They are
vigorous and robust species, clumping up quickly by making mats of lots of
small and tightly congested fans.  I am pretty strong but it took all of my
200+ pounds on a sharp spade to get through the mat of I. koreana !  When
the fans are separated they come out with disconcertingly little root but
the I. odaesanensis divisions established immediately.  In contrast, I.
koreana divisions appeared to brown off rapidly, a few only left with any
green on the central blade.  However, a dibble at the weekend showed they
are making new growth buds below ground so it looks like they will be fine.
Like many plants, taking care of business downstairs precedes any attempt to
make new top growth following disturbance.

Both of these species need to clump up before really flowering well, this
was the first year that I. odaesanensis flowered well, I koreana was
spectacular.  The latter has also set seed.  Like many of the plants from
Darrell, they are both wonderful introductions - I hope i. henryi does as
well.  I have two clones of I. speculatrix, but neither have flowered yet.

I realize most of this is probably off-topic-ish for PBS so will stop now -
but anyone with a suitable site must grow these iris !  In the next week or
so I'll be updating my web site with over 500 new pictures, including images
of the above species.


Dr John T Lonsdale
407 Edgewood Drive,
Exton, Pennsylvania 19341,  USA

Phone: 610 594 9232
Fax:      801 327 1266

Visit "Edgewood" - The Lonsdale Garden at

Zone 6b

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