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Cultivation of Iris Species

There are between 250 and 400 species of Iris depending on which authority one cites. Theoretical each species occupies a unique niche or place in the ecosystem. So how can one say anything about growing species? Each has its own ideal growth environment. Often species are more rigid in their requirements than hybrids which tend to adjust to the spectrum of environments that were ideal for their parents. But despite this caveat Irises are a very adaptable genus and most species can be accommodated in normal garden situations.

The first step at understanding a species' culture is to look to its native habitat. If one can duplicate that then it should be very easy. Even if one can not, understanding its place in nature may give clues of small changes that can make it easy to grow. Fortunately one does not need to know each species intimately before one can have success. Species can be divided into certain groups that have general requirements for cultivation in common.

Modern classification seems to be heading towards dividing Irises into two groups Dryland Irises and Wetland Irises. The wetland Irises are what normally referred to and the Pond Irises, Section Limniris.

Pond Iris Culture; Not all irises in this group actually live in ponds but all share the fact that when transplanting they must not ne allowed to dry out. Until new roots are established the plants are vulnerable, but once established, they can be very drought resistant varying in degree from species to species. Most of these species grow in nature on well drained soils that experience lots of moisture in the spring prior to and during bloom. Generally the hybrids that have been developed from each species reflect and blend the requirements of their ancestral species. Most Siberian Iris Hybrids have been primarily derived from Iris sanguinea but also have some contribution of Iris sibirica in their back ground. For further understanding of these two species one can refer to the Cultivation Of Siberian Irises. But cultivation of the Series Chrysographes in the Siberian Irises can be quite different. Rather than generalize it is best to check the cultivation of each pond iris species individually. For those reccommended for actually growing in ponds see Pond Culture.

Dryland Irises; This group includes the bearded Irises commonly grown in gardens with their large rhizomes, and also Bulbous Irises and Junos. These differ from the wetland Irises in that they generally come from environments that provide a dry summer dormancy. This allows them to be easily shipped dry in the summer or fall and begin a new growth season after planting. Although often tolerant of extreme dry conditions generally they do benefit from a speedy replanting so that they can form more new roots before winter.


-- Main.RPries - 2010-05-10
Topic revision: r1 - 10 May 2010, RPries
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