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RE: Moraea Aristata

I think quite a few people have joined us since we last had some postings
about Moraeas - I seem to recall it was about 7 or 8 months ago, so maybe a
few extra words about these marvellous irids may not be amiss.  I fell for
them some years ago and have built up quit a collection - since I can
actually get M. aristata to flower, perhaps my culture of these things may
be of interest.

1.  Most (but not all) are winter-growing corms, and resent summer moisture.
I plant them in new compost in September, and start them into growth then.
For compost, I use a soil-based compost, but with the addition of 50% sharp
grit, plus added osmocote fertiliser, i.e rich but very free-draining.

2.  Give the plants all the light they will take during winter - don't
overwater but don't let them totally dry out either.

3.  I only give them heat when the temperature in the greenhouse may go
below zero (centigrade that is), and then only enough to stop the
temperature dropping below freezing.

4.  In spring, after flowering, the plants start to die back as the
temperatures rise.  Start withholding water from this point onwards.  When
dried out, the pots can be put somewhere dry till time to repot comes round
again.  I put them under the staging.

That's it really - some are hardy outdoors here (USDA Zone 8 I think) - if
these might interest you, have a trawl through the archives to find our last
discussion.  Alas, I have not been keeping photos of the flowers of these
plants, but I will try to remember to do this and perhaps post them on my
web site if they are of interest - anyone?

BTW, if you want to get the complete works on these little gems, get the
monograph "The Moraeas of Southern Africa" by Peter Goldblatt.  Its
published by the National Botanic Gardens, Kirstenbosch, in 1986, ISBN 0 620
09974 7

According to Goldblatt, the correct name is as in the header to this
posting.  The genus was originally named Morea by Philip Miller in 1758, but
Linnaeus changed it to Moraea in 1762 - possibly to commemorate his wife's
family name of Moraeus - perhaps this explains some of the variability in
the spelling?

There aren't so many iris-type flowers during the winter months - with the
honourable exceptions of the bulbous irises (reticulatas, junos) and I
unguicularis.  Moraeas and other related genera provide a fascinating
extension to this, and are a good way of extending the Iris obsession into
the otherwise dead months!

Ian Black  ianblack@easynet.co.uk
Hampshire, UK  - mintemp  -8C

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