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Re: SPEC: I. tectorum water needs

Celia asked.

<< This may sound like a lamebrain question, I know, but how much water does
 I. tectorum require? TWOI just says a rich soil and half day of sun. >>

There are no lamebrain questions.Celia; haven't you been listening to Aunt
Sharon on this point? Unless you want to establish this new category with the
sole criterion being even Anner can answer it!! And frankly, I know just what
you mean about the World of Irises on this plant because I have been there,
and asked the same question, and found the cultural directions in on Iris
tectorum inadequate.

Iris tectorum, also known as the "Japanese Roof Iris" is a member of the
Evansias, or "crested" irises, so-called because they have a ridge of raised
tissue, the "crest" in place of a beard or signal. The story is that they
were once grown by Japanese woman who ground the dried rhizomes for face
powder. When forbidden the practice becase all available land had to be used
for growing foodstuffs, the women started growing the irises on the thatched
roofs of the farm buildings. 

Now, I know this plant. I've grown slews of them from seed--easiest iris of
all---and raised them to maturity in pots and in the ground. Gorgeous things.
Iris tectorum plants have a stout rhizome like a bearded iris, meaning that
they are actually pretty drought resistant if necessary, but they generally
prefer some moisture in the ground because they also have rather marginal
hairlike root-systems which do not extend like that of a bearded iris. I
understand that too much moisture can lead to fungal leaf spot problems, but
I've never had that problem. They do like semi-shade, or high shade, and
loose, friable soil which remains evenly moist but does not dry out. I
suspect they can take rather more sun than is generally thought, but they
look so good with other plants of the semi-shade, such as bue hostas, that
I've never tried them. With the cristatas should be fine, but enrich the soil
and make sure you've got good drainage Under the magnolia is liable to be too
dry and compacted. We've had a major drought this year and I never saw them
suffer, even though I watered them only when the nearby hostas looked limp. I
think you will find them easy to grow if you prepare them a nice bed and
leave them alone, watering them only when the weather is dry. Remove the pods
if you don't want an invasion. They do produce a lot of sterile fans and they
do exhaust the soil quickly and they should always be moved only just after
flowering. I suggest raising new plants rather than dividing old ones. Seed
to five fans and bloom in about 17 months.

Let me know if I haven't been clear. Addlepated today.

Anner Whitehead , Richmond, Va
Henry Hall  henryanner@aol.com

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