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Growing PCNI in Texas/cultivar list, long

Kathryn Mohr wrote:

> Remind us how cold your weather gets, and how you planted and cared for 
> your PCN baby. 


It seems there is more than passing interest in PCNIs here. (We all seem 
to want what we can't have!)  SO, I'll elaberate on what I've done and 
my  LIMITED sucess.  

I got interested in PCNIs because my real love is species.  I set a goal 
to grow all the No. American native irises.  (I had all the species from 
East of the Rockies untill the slugs found my I. lacustrus.)   I've 
started PCNIs from both seeds and transplants.  I have yet to get a 
transplant through the summer.  I have a few seedings that are facing 
their second summer.  I recommend that people try this route, it seems to 
be the surer path.
I know of at least one other brave soul growing PCNI here.  He also 
started from seed.

Now the particulars:

I'm about 25 miles North and West of Dallas TX in Zone 7. The 7/8 line 
cuts through Dallas county so that's a warm 7.  The temperature can range 
from 10 to 115 deg F, but 20 to 105 are more typical.  Winters are mostly 
mild but we get some hard freezes, often after several days of warm 
weather (very tough on plants). Summers are hot and humid but dry as in 
not much rain.  My understanding is that heat with humidity or rain is 
the big problem for growing PCNIs.  My particular patch of ground is flat 
and low lying clay soil with very poor drainage.   Great for LAs, not the 
ideal place for PCNI. 

My PCNI bed is a raised bed on the east side of the house.  It is 
somewhat shaded by a tree and with the house gets little direct afternoon 
sun.  It is also protected by a room on the North side.  

I lost 6 of 6 of my first batch of rhizomes.  I put them in pots in the 
fall and then transplanted them to the bed in the spring.  Most of them 
didn't recover from the transplanting.  It was a very wet summer (I was 
loosing LAs to rot), and I didn't do enough to keep them dry.   One hardy 
soul, JEAN ERICKSON made it to August. 

 That next year I joined SPCNI and got some seeds.  (A much better source 
than SIGNA for PCNI seed!)  I start all my iris seeds indoors.  The 
seedings transplanted easily and were maybe 4-6" tall when summer hit.   
After the temps hit 90 deg, I covered the bed when there was rain in the 
forcast.  I missed a couple of showers but the seedlings got very little 
rain for three months or so.  (It was really hard to deprive my little 
seedlings of water!) They were content to sit there.  They didn't grow 
but they didn't turn brown either.   They put on some growth in the fall 
and were again unaffected by winter.  We had at least three nights of 
temps in the middle teens.  

The second batch of rhizomes were planted last fall.  We got a light 
freeze two weeks later and on the whole it was a dry winter.  Lots of 
fluctuation between cold and warm weather.  The rhizomes sat there and 
eventally died back.  (All except for one piece of Pacific Rim which I 
had potted. It put on some significant new growth.)  We had some late 
freezes (The above mentioned middle teens were in Feb).  Many of my other 
irises are a week late in blooming.  I had almost given up hope when all 
of the rhizomes started to put on new growth early last month.  Now, one 
by one, they are dying except for Pacific Rim.  The Pacific rim rhizome 
in the bed bloomed!  It has some healthy leaves and may just make it.  
The potted Pacific Rim is still growing strong, but hasn't tried to 

The seedings are still doing fine but I'm a bit dissapointed that they 
haven't tried to bloom.  More so now that Pacific Rim has given me a true 
taste of these irises.  Not only was it my first bloom but the first I'd 
ever seen live.   The prescription for this summer is no rain again.  
Other than that it's wait and see.  The potted Pacific Rim will come 
indoors, into the relative comfort of the AC.  I'll still debating on a 
third try with rhizomes.


I selected my first cultivars partially from an article in the AIS 
Bulletin No. 286, July 1992.  It was a "my favorite varities" by members 
of SPCNI.  I selected some of those listed by Robert Ward in Little Rock 
AR and Dot Hujsak in Tulsa OK, the folks closest to me.


* I tried these two plus SIERRA DELL, JEAN ERICKSON and a couple of species.

My second set came from Colin Rigby who selected them for me to try.  (No 
doubt he felt sorry for me that all the plants I had purchesed from him 
had died.  He has been a mentor and a cheerleader for me in this 
Colin sent the following:  SIERRA DELL, PACIFIC RIM, CACHE CREEK, DR. 

Many of the cultivars I've listed have I. munzii in their background.  It 
is the most heat tollerant but the least hardy PCNI.  I have a clump of 
I. munzii which I started along with the seedlings discussed above that 
is doing well.

That's the sum total of my experience with PCNIs.  I'll keep the list posted.


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