James Waddick
Tue, 09 Mar 2004 15:07:14 PST
Dear All;
	Iris... where to even start. Here in the mid-west the Pacific 
Coast natives and hybrids are a total wash. A lot of work and then 
	I'll keep to the bulbous iris for the time being and this is 
their time.

	Iris reticulata here are something of a challenge to get them 
going well, but we have worked at it for a few years and find them 
easy, vigorous , bloom like crazy and multiply like mad - with lots 
of reservations. Some do, some don't.
	I won't name names, but a few years ago I corresponded with a 
few growers about the mis-named reticulatas making the rounds. One 
grower assured me his were correct and true. I order 200 each of 10 
named cvs and divided these collections of 10 x 10 each with a number 
of people around here. Even overseas mail made them reasonable. Some 
were/are still mis-named, some are excellent and others a total 
waste. We planted about 500 in the lawn and don't mow until their 
foliage goes down. We got seed and repeat bloom, but these petered 
out after a few years. I think from a combination of our extreme 
heat, drought and competition. A few hundred others planted on a 
ridge and given morning shade have proven better. Some groups of ten 
are now dozens and maybe hundreds. A few have totally gone and others 
linger. It seems obvious that not all reticulatas are equal. Instead 
of telling you what works here, I think you have to try a lot on a 
variety of places and find the ones that do best for you.
	Incidentally none show a trace of virus.

	Right now Iris hyrcana (perhaps a form of reticulata) is 
about to open its single sky blue flower in a rasied bed.
	Iris danfordiae is an annual. Smply doesn't last long.

	Dutch iris are also worthless here and I have had mixed 
results with English (speaking of virus!).

	My bulbous iris stars are the Junos. I grow them in a raised 
bed and they are great. Iris magnifica (various forms), I wilmottiana 
alba and I grabereana all do great. One bulb of I wilmottiana alba 
produced 18 bulbs in 3 years in the this bed. I dug them all out and 
now a half dozen are still coming up where I must have left a few 
scraps. Iris aucheri isn't quite as vigorous and a few other hardy 
enough are doing fine. I bucharica is easy even in the open garden as 
long as doesn't sit anywhere wet.
	[Incidentally Regelia, Pseudoregelia. Oncocyclus and Aril 
bred hybrids do great in this same raised bed. The arillate iris are 
all very intriguing colors and forms. Worth the bit of extra work.]

	The only Juno to frustrate me is I cycloglossa one of my 
favorites. I used to grow it in my previous garden, but haven't found 
a spot in the current garden yet where it is happy. It is a beauty. I 
know it needs more moisture, but that is always hard to guarantee 

	A nearly bulbous iris is the peculiar Iris anguifuga. This 
Chinese species has quite a story. It is known as the 'Snake Bane' 
Iris because of the Chinese belief that it can repel snakes from the 
garden. Here's the logic: The foliage appears in late summer to early 
fall and as it starts to grow 'chases snakes away (into 
hibernation)'. Foliage remains green all winter at about 2 inches in 
height (even here and even well below 0F). As the weather warm, the 
foliage extends to a foot and the flower appears like a puny purple 
spuria (incidentally it is the only iris with a single bract below 
the flower). As the flower withers and foliage dies, the plant 
'looses strength which allows the snakes to return to the garden' 
(come out of hibernation) and dominate the garden all summer.
	However, do not fear. If a snake were to bite, simply rub the 
rhizome on the snake bite and the poison will be neutralized (NOT!). 
Or grind the rhizome for a poultice applied to the bite.

	By the time fall has come the rhizome sort of withers and the 
underground part looks like a bulb, but in full growth the plant has 
a clear underground rhizome somehow straddling the world of bulb and 
rhizome by season. The species seems unrelated to any other iris and 
may be similar to an ancestral missing link between rhizomateous and 
bulbous iris, spuria, siberian and other Asian species. Totally hardy 
here, too.

	And Mary Sue, if you have read this far, the picture you 
asked about is Iris japonica. I assume it has no stem and the fan of 
foliage is right on the ground, not elevated.

	With planning, I can have iris species in bloom here from Feb 
through August.

		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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