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Re: Iris Adaptable to Varied Conditions

Arnold, the best idea is to learn the names of some hybridizers from your
own zone and try their introductions, or consult with other iris folk more
experienced and see what grows best for them.  I grew iris for a time in
the northern parts of zone 4.  I found that the Oregon-California
originations had only a 50-50 chance of making it there.  Of course at that
time (about 40years ago) more iris were coming out of New England and the
upper Midwest, or so it seems.

Probably the upper AIS awards are also a reasonable guide.  Hard to believe
that an iris could make it to HM or Dykes medal without being at least
decent in most parts of the country.  I'm sure there are exceptions,
though.  The Popularity Poll may also be a good guide, though I'veheard it
said that some people vote for a variety just on reputation, without having
seen it.

The problem seems to stem from the infusion in the early part of the
century of genes from the tetraploid species, like I. trojana, which as
Mediterranean plants were less hardy than the old "germanicas" and
variegatas of northern Europe.  But they do grow beautifully in Italy,
parts of Australia, Southern California, and Chile!  Because of this, I
think hybridizers may unconciously select for less hardy types in those
climates.  Other breeders, in areas like Britain, N. Europe and the eastern
part of the US, favor the old diploid gene complexes that produced
hardiness but may be conducive to failure in Mediterranean-type climates.

If you're eager to always have the "latest" at $20-45 a pop, you're going
to get burned sometimes.  Now, I would think long and hard about buying a
TB iris introduced less than 5 years ago and which has not been awarded by
AIS.  I think most people on this list would agree that far too many TBs
are introduced each year, and that most of them do not represent any
advance, however slight, over their predecessors.

Rather than spend a lot of money trying to hit a moving target (tracking
what might be "in" or "our" a few years hence)  I have more fun raising my
own plants from seed.  Most are dogs,  to be sure, but they give me
pleasure and local friends always seem happy to take some away with them.

Best wishes, Bill
William A. Shear
Department of Biology
Hampden-Sydney College
Hampden-Sydney VA 23943 USA
phone (804) 223-6172
FAX (804) 223-6374

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