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Re: Re: CULT: I. japonica

From: "Patterson, Dallas" <nye@mail.fidalgo.net>

Hello Everyone,

We started growing our potted Iris japonica plants in the USDA Zone 10 of 
the San Gabriel Valley in Los Angeles County, California. It bloomed 
gloriously the entire month of March in 1994-95. In January 1996, we 
moved during a bitter blizzard, and the movers left them outside too long 
as they unpacked the moving van. As the temperature dropped to 16 degrees 
F., the foliage of these poor plants turned from a healthy light green to 
a ghastly and sickly dark green. Finally, they were moved into the 
kitchen to recover as the the house was reheated. Despite this trauma, 
none of these plants were lost, but they also did not bloom in 1996.

Since 1996, however, the plants have remained in their pots, and they 
have faithfully bloomed each year. This is in USDA Zone 8 of Western 
Washington and along the seacoast of Puget Sound. The secret to getting 
reliable bloom from the potted I. japonica is to never allow the foliage 
to become damaged by temperature extremes and other dangers. Once the 
foliage is damaged, the plant will not bloom until it has recovered in a 
subsequent year. To accomplish this, the potted plants are kept under the 
overhanging eaves of the house, so the plants can avoid any damage by 
frost. When the temperatures are forecast to go below 34 degrees F., the 
pots are moved into the garage until the temperature rises above the 
frost danger once more. They've been kept in the garage as long as a 
couple of months in the winter.

The potting medium is a standard soilless potting medium consisting of 
peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite. We've used liquid fertililzers, but 
you could try azalea/camellia fertilizers. They are repotted from time to 
time to keep them from becoming root-bound.

The healthy and happy plants have provided dozens of blossoms each over a 
period of several weeks. Although this occurred in March in Southern 
California, they bloom about May here in Western Washington. The blossoms 
and foliage of I. japonica and its close relatives qualify them as truly 
beautiful and special forms of iris. They are entirely worth the effort 
to grow them in any climate, whether indoors and/or outdoors.

For a description of this and related species, see:

Köhlein, Fritz; et al. Iris. Portland, OR: Timber Press; 1981. 2nd 
Printing 1989. ISBN 0-88192-049-5; Pp. 179-181.

Dallas Patterson
USDA Zone 8 W. Washington

DWiris@aol.com wrote:
> From: DWiris@aol.com
> Hi Cindy,
> Here in northern Ohio, about Zone 6, we grow I. japonica variegata in pots.
> They were outside until our first light frost and then went to a greenhouse.
> We have had it for about 2 1/2 years, however, we haven't got any bloom yet.
> Dorothy Willott
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