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Re: SPEC:Setosa:Transplanting Seedlings

From: Haggstroms <hagg@alaska.net>

Dan & Marilyn Mason wrote:

> BLUE LIGHTS is the only mature east coast Setosa that I have. The
> west coast Setosas I've grown so far have been much taller and
> larger, larger flowers. Here's a question for Kathy or anyone
> else:
> Are there west coast I. Setosas that compare in dwarf or compact
> habit to the east coast Setosa - Hookeri? Perhaps in some
> windswept exposed location?

Dan -
The timing on this question is interesting, as Christy Hensler and I
exchanged e-mail yesterday concerning a dwarf variety she acquired under the

title "Dwarf setosa" in Washington, and which is such a willing trooper and
wonderful bloomer, that she is trying to positively ID it. She can give you
more info on it, but she does have a photo on her web page.

To answer part of the question, though, yes there are other dwarf setosa
which are quite different looking than hookeri, which is considered, not a
subspecies, but its own species now, I believe.

The standard old garden variety setosas ARE much larger with much larger

The other dwarf varieties of setosa are:
I. setosa var. arctica -  They are dwarf and grow in the northern areas of
Alaska, but not in my area, and  this is the one form of Alaskan setosa I
haven't seen growing in the wild, so I can't give you the difference
between this dwarf and hookeri. I do know the flower looks more like the
traditional setosa than hookeri does. This one came to mind when I saw
Christy's picture, because I know there is a "dwarf" variety of setosa which

is found growing in gardens , and also sold through commerce, which is
almost identical to "arctica" and is conjectured to originate from arctica.
You're going to find a little bit of confusion about this variety, okay?
seen references to it in the past as I. setosa ssp.hookeri var. arctica - in
words an Alaskan variety of hookeri. I haven't seen that reference recently,

and most sources list it as a setosa variety, which I think is more correct.

It has been bothering me for a while that I can't speak to the issue of var.

arctica a little more authoritatively, as it is within my reach to study it
a little
better. I've made plans to fly around the Kotzebue area and further north
during their bloom season next summer to get a better handle on the variety
other than what I read, because the literature is a little vague, and in the
books, confusing. If you can wait until next fall, I'll give you an amateur
eye-ball opinion.

 There is one more truly dwarf setosa - the form alpina, which grows in
Siberia, is quite short. I have not seen this one in person either, so I
say how it differs from var. arctica. What makes this variety dwarf is a
short stem or scape. I don't know if the flower size is proportional to the

There is a subspecies, I setosa ssp. interior which tends to be somewhat
smaller than the standard. While they are taller than a true dwarf, they are

also daintier, as a rule, than I setosa ssp. setosa. They are almost
to ssp. setosa, except they have shorter, slightly more violet spathes.
These differences are kind of subtle - what I notice is that the flowers
to be more butterfly-like or less "lush" than regular setosa, and they have
finer foliage. Some will "bulk up" when I transplant them into my patch,
but some will retain their more delicate look. They are found inland, not on

the coast, as indicated by the name.

Of course, windswept hills will do the trick if one is looking to
dwarf one's iris a little :-)

I'm kind of curious about what other type of iris you grow in your garden -
I wouldn't mind trying some you recommend as hardy, and would appreciate any

info about those.
Kathy Haggstrom
Anch, AK USA
(zone 3)

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