Friday, March 02, 2007

Summer blooming iris

I grow my Pacific Coast Iris seedlings in a slightly unusual manner. Our climate is quite different to their homeland – we have wet and cold winters, and hot and dry summers. They would not survive the summers very well without extra watering, but they do not like having wet feet. My answer has been to grow them in a mulch of bark from Pinus radiata. The Monterey Pine is the most common timber tree in New Zealand, having a phenomenal rate of growth in our climate. As this is so well drained I need to apply summer water.
I think a consequence of that is early flowering of seedlings. I sow my seed in March, prick the seedlings out in late spring and usually plant out the following March. Some of the seedlings will flower the following spring, but usually only one or two each batch. Sometimes a larger number will flower in the summer, probably as a result of the extra watering.
This year one of my older seedlings has had a summer flowering season, a seedling called 2003-109, grown from ‘Cross Purpose’ seed from the SPCNI pool.
It’s pretty enough and I would have kept it in the garden, but it might be useful to breed with more extensively if it passes on its re-blooming characteristics in the following generations. The I can look forward to irises all summer too!

1 comment:

Diane W said...

But Gareth, that is exactly the climate of the west coast of North America. That is why they do so well for me here in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Dry summers (sometimes there are one or two days with a bit of rain between June and October) and rainy winters. When the rains start in October, the iris start growing new roots and leaves.