Iris paradoxa habitat, was Onco seedlings

Jane McGary
Wed, 21 Oct 2015 10:40:50 PDT
Bob Nold wrote,
"I was told that some of the oncos, like Iris paradoxa, grow in soils 
with quite a bit of organic matter in the wild, but here they get “sandy 
loam”, a purchased soil with no organic matter in it. "

I haven't seen all the onco species in the wild, but have seen a number 
of them, and some of their soils didn't look very organic to me. A photo 
of Iris paradoxa will appear with a little article I wrote for the next 
Bulb Garden newsletter, and I hope it shows the substrate, because it 
was on the very top of a rocky hill in what looked like pure mineral 
soil, and flowering like mad. On the same trip I saw two subspecies of 
Iris iberica (ssp. lycotis and ssp. elegantissima), and lycotis was 
growing in grassland, but elegantissima atop a rocky knoll. Some other 
species grow in desert sands. We did visit an agricultural experiment 
station in Azerbaijan where various iris species (Onco and Bearded) were 
being grown in a field in what appeared to be clay soil, but they had 
been place on top of berms. We also saw Iris gatesii, an onco, growing 
in a garden in woodland, but the gardener told us it came from far up 
the nearby mountain.

Here in Portland, Oregon, growing pure Oncocyclus species is very 
difficult because of the humid winters. Even under cover, the irises 
(which make leaf growth in fall) are afflicted by molds unless regularly 
sprayed, which I don't want to bother with. (An exception seems to be 
Iris kirkwoodii, which I grew from seed and it is doing well in the bulb 
house.)  However, the Regeliocyclus hybrids, many of which have 
beautiful flowers, do much better here. I've recently moved divisions of 
some of them outdoors.

Jane McGary
Portland, Oregon, USA

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