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Re: Iris ID's

  • Subject: Re: [iris-photos] Iris ID's
  • From: "Hensler" <hensler@povn.com>
  • Date: Thu, 20 Dec 2001 10:55:56 -0800

----- Original Message -----
From: <craigiris@ipns.com>

> I strongly urge you to NOT try to identify unknown iris. That
> is how so many misnamed iris get traded around.  Unfortunately, some end
> up in commercial gardens and we end up with a real mess. Just enjoy what
> you have and only purchase from the hybridizer or a very reputable
> commercial garden.

Just wanted to mention that even the most reputable commercial gardens and
hybridizers can sometimes goof and send a mislabeled plant. Having a
business license doesn't protect you from Murphy's Law.

Rather than dismiss all of the wonderful small-time growers of irises, take
the time to learn how to confirm the identity of an iris. Wherever a plant
comes from, it's a good idea to follow at least one basic rule: Always check
the description of any iris against what the bloom looks like in your garden
before you share starts.

If (like a lot of us) you find you've fallen for something that is obviously
mislabeled, start with the basics:

1. If the iris was a purchase or trade, contact the person you received it
from immediately. There's a good chance that it's a case of Right
label/Wrong iris and they'll recognize a photo and description.

Orphans take a bit more detective work to identify:

2. Get an accurate description and a series of photos of the bloom from
different angles as well as close-up photos of the rest of the plant. Note
what else is blooming at the same time.

3. When you find a possible identity, order named starts from at least 2
other growers and grow the plants side by side for comparison. Plan on
getting comparisons for at least 2 years so you can see how they react to
changing weather conditions.

If your unknown has exactly the same bloom time and the exactly the same
type of presentation, the same growth habit and the same details in rhizome,
roots, stalk, texture, fertility, etc., you just might be able to identify
it. The trick is to be extremely aware of the smallest detail that doesn't

If all efforts fail, and the orphan still doesn't have a name, don't give it
one! While we share some of the loveliest orphans, we make certain they're
labeled as unknowns. "RG Unk 1" is a lovely rich blue TB who lights up the
garden and is nearly indestructible. I can't image throwing it on the
compost simply because we don't know what its real name might be.

Christy Hensler

Variegated and Colored Leafed Plants

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