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MDBs for warm climates (was Re: pumilas!)

Mike Lowe comments

:If you are zone 7 or warmer, look at the background of MDBs prior to
:acquiring them. If they have a large percentage of pumila, they will
:probably need more winter chill than zone 7 can provide. If their
:background is largely chamaeiris they will bloom without the extended
:winter-chill that pumila demands.

Yes, indeed! I'll go further and add that there are now a number
of MDBs on the market that are essentially pure SDB by breeding,
particularly many of Hager's. These ought to do just fine wherever
SDBs grow, especially since Stockton, California, is not known for
the severity of its winters! LIBATION, DITTO, PIXIE TRICKS, many

The MDBs are currently probably the most genetically diverse group
of bearded irises. I. pumila is the main species used in their
breeding, but an individual MDB can be anything from 0 to 100%
pumila. Some of Hager's have quite a lot of I. aphylla in them,
which is a very rugged iris, and hardy as a rock.

FWIW, Hager managed to sustain colonies of I. pumila in Stockton
by growing masses of them from seed each year. Not only did this
breed in tolerance for warmer winters, but even when many dwindled
and died out there were always more seedlings coming along to bloom.

One of the reasons I think there is great promise in aril/pumila
breeding is that these two types of irises seem to have complementary
preferences as far as climate is concerned. Arils like it dry, so
are suited to the southwest US. Pumilas like it cold, so do well in
the northeast. Combining the two promises the possibility, at least,
of a race of dwarf arilbreds that are more adaptable to different
climates than either the typical arilbred or the typical MDB.

Happy irising, Tom.


Tom Tadfor Little         tlittle@lanl.gov  -or-  telp@Rt66.com
technical writer/editor   Los Alamos National Laboratory
Telperion Productions     http://www.rt66.com/~telp/

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