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Re: (Was:OT-Bio: K.Haggstrom) Now: SPEC: CULT

From: Haggstroms <hagg@alaska.net>

HIPSource@aol.com wrote:

> I was just telling a list friend the other day that there was a bit in the
> recent AIS Bulletin from a fellow in Petersburg, VA, which is about
> twenty-five miles south of me, who says he is having some bother getting his
> setosa seedlings to bloom.They have not bloomed after three years. I've never
> had any bloom before the third year, but I've always had bloom that year,
> with the exception of one I grow from SIGNA seed under the name I.setosa
> "Grandiflora", which I don't think is legitimate. I need to check the BIS
> book on that taxonomy. Anyway, others in colder climes claim bloom in the
> second year and I'm wondering if this area may be the southern limit of good
> growth.

Anner (and also Dennis, Christy and Barbara),

Thank you for your generous welcome - it is nice to see old familiar names.
Anner, about the setosas you mentioned above:  I've mulled over the situation you
describe, and have several possible explanations. You must realize that I'm
limited by my lack of widespread knowledge of this plant. I have very little
experience with it in any other latitude or zone than mine (latitude proves to be
just as important as zone with this species).
1) The plant is getting too much shade or root competition from nearby trees.
Those are always the culprits I consider in my area. Setosas are a "transitional"
plant, and are in nature an open meadow, bog species where it receives a lot of
sunshine and no competition from trees.  I'm not confident in saying that shade
is as much a factor in the lower latitudes as it is here, but I do know this is a
species that tolerates very little root competition,  and withers rapidly under
the onslaught of trees, especially Birch in my area.
2) Anner, I think you hit the nail on the head for the possible real problem:  it
may be at the southern limit of good growth FOR THAT SEED SOURCE. Seedling bloom
in two years is the norm and they  need healthy freezing periods in the winter
for good success, BUT I'm finding wide variations in reactions to such things as
cold, light levels/amounts in the setosas I've purchased through commerce. I
bought quite a few from stateside sources to observe what differences and
variations there may be from mine, and I've been a little surprised at just how
much there has been. It is very similar to the thread that is going on now
regarding cold climate Spurias - some  do well in colder climates, and some
Even though the gentleman is dealing, not with named varieties, but basic setosa
seedlings, there seems to be almost as much variation in all the I. setosas
floating around as there is in named varieties of other species bred in differing
parts of the country. I, of course, am having greater success with the setosas
from more northerly states, and have my greatest difficulty with setosas from
Oregon, through no fault of theirs other than they aren't acclimatizing. I
haven't ordered any from a southern state, though I'm interested in doing that
now, out of curiosity. If this is the problem plaguing the person from Virginia,
he probably would do best, and be well advised, to purchase seed/plants from as
southerly a source as he can.
I'm having less confidence I could sell plants which would do well outside of
Alaska, not so much because of the amount of cold (northern Minnesota often has
colder weather than my area), but because of the latitudes. The minute light
levels start dropping in September, coupled with a frost, the setosa  enter their
dormancy amazingly fast. By the end of Sept, they are completely gone, with next
years leaves barely peeking above the ground. Meanwhile, the purchased plants
(even one from Minnesota, though it fared the best, along with Andrew Wheeler's
from Foxbrook in Maine), were basically clueless, putting on big husky displays
of gorgeous green blades, as if they had plenty of time to go about their
business of winterizing. I'm sure a large part of their problem was not getting
the light cue, because they were receiving plenty of temperature cues they should
have already understood. Ian Efford, in an e-mail to me more than a year ago,
said he felt the light/temperature adaptation might be one of the largest hurdles
I would have to overcome in marketing Alaskan iris out-of-state, and I agree now.

This is long, and I may have over-explained, but I'll leave it as it is.
Kathy Haggstrom
Anchorage, AK USA
zone 3

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