a non-flowering iris

Jane McGary janemcgary@earthlink.net
Sat, 26 Sep 2009 17:35:41 PDT
Kathleen on the Oregon coast wrote
>A few weeks ago, someone mentioned a non-flowering iris. I took the
>time today to go measure the leaves on a clump of Iris I have that
>has also never flowered for me.  Would the person who wrote about it
>contact me so we can compare notes?
>I have had this plant for more than 10 years; it came with a label
>indicating it was Iris tenax, but now that I know that species
>better, I know the leaves are too long, and the leaf color is too gray.
>In this mystery iris clump, Individual leaves are at their largest 4
>mm wide and 60-62 cm long. The clump is 25 cm across, and the foliage
>color is light greenish gray. In my yard, zone 8, it grows in sandy
>silt, in a bed that gets no summer water and full sun.

Are the leaves 4 mm wide? Other than that, the foliage description 
reminds me of Iris munzii, a member of the same section (Pacific 
Coast irises) but from California. It has grayish leaves that are 
broad for a PCI (probably up to 4 cm) and quite long and rather 
erect. I grew it for a while (until it froze to death -- it has the 
reputation of being the most tender of the section) and it never 
flowered here in the Oregon Cascade foothills. The flowers are 
supposed to be a beautiful shade of blue, and this species has been 
widely used in breeding Pacific Coast iris hybrids. Perhaps 
Kathleen's plant is a hybrid seedling from a garden where I. tenax 
was growing with this species or with hybrids related to it. I don't 
know why it would survive more than 10 years without flowering, 
unless it needs more heat to initiate flowering -- it won't get much 
where Kathleen lives.

The only irises I know of that would actually have leaves only 4 mm 
wide and that long are I. filifolia and I. tingitana, which come from 
the western Mediterranean, but they are bulbous and don't really form 
"clumps" like the rhizomatous to fibrous-rooted PCIs do. I grow these 
in the bulb frame, where they have flowered.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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