Fall Line - M. Sutton, Bountiful Harvest - B. Hager, I Repeat
- J. Roberts
Iris in New Jersey
I was a child in elementary school I had a teacher
who wanted us to draw each week a picture of nature as
we saw it:
flowers, landscapes, etc. I had little talent for art
so I used to hand in a drawing of an iris flower. With
oval for the top (standards) and a few more for the
falls, a green stalk and a few sword-like leaves,
always came out pretty good. "You can't draw iris
any more because they are no longer in bloom" I
was told. With my father's help, I returned to class
the next day with a
beautiful flower stalk in hand. My dad had selected
his iris from early, mid and late season bloomers so
display lasted quite long -- much to the dismay of
It was quite pleasing to me when I learned of iris that
not only bloom in the spring, but rebloom again in the Fall. Also called remontants, some of these
cultivars can put on quite a spectacular show in the
Fall garden when there is not much competition from
other plants. The ability to rebloom varies from cultivar
cultivar and is also affected by local garden conditions
(any plant grown well will do better than one that
is not) as well as climate zone. In California, some
will bloom practically all year long. Here in Central
New Jersey, Zone 6B according to the National Gardening
Association (get your zone from their web site
at http://www.garden.org/zipzone/index.php), rebloom
tends to be less reliable. It is partly for this reason
that I am listing this information here so that other
gardeners in this region can know what cultivars might
perform well in similar situations for them.
All photos are dated so you can get an idea of what
blooms when. That being said, it should also be pointed
out, howver, that 2009 was an unusual year climate-wise
in New Jersey. Temperatures (all of the talk about
global warming to the contrary) were much below normal.
In early August we had a streak of very cold nights
(much to the unhappiness of my tomato plants) that
have triggered early rebloom on some of these iris.
on the Fall Rebloom button below for a report of Fall
rebloom. Which cultivars performed best in NJ?
I'm sure we all remember that famous gum commercial, "Double your
pleasure ... Double your fun ..."
Plain and simple, two bloom seasons are better than one! It seems like
a "no brainer". Why would you want an iris that blooms only
in the Spring when you could have one that blooms in the Spring and
the AGAIN in the Fall.
Not Reblooming Iris?
Unfortunately, it is not as simple as that! In nature, the sole purpose
of the flower is to grow more babies -- to provide for survival and
increase of the species. A pretty flower with alot of extra fringe
and ruffles, aside from expending additional energy for the plant,
does not provide any gain so far as reproduction is concerned -- for
the most part. And an iris that reblooms in the Fall is also "wasting" plant
energy -- as the flowers usually lack enough time before frost to yield
viable seeds. Clearly, being fancy and reblooming are characteristics
appreciated by the gardener much more than the plant.
In addition, both of these "traits" tend to be recessive.
If a fancy flower is crossed to a plain one, most of the offspring
will be plain. If a rebloomer is crossed with one that does not rebloom,
most (if not all) of the offspring will lack this trait. If you look
at the non-reblooming flowers on the following page (click on photo
bottom of this page), you will find that greater variety and sophistication
is available than in the rebloomers shown here. Most hybridizers pursue
a relatively narrow goal. If you cross your best "fancy" to
your 2nd best "fancy" -- the chances are good you'll get
a few fancy
offspring in the brood, if you are lucky. The same goes with rebloomers.
But if you cross you best rebloomer to your most fancy iris, chances
are the children will not be as fancy as the one parent nor will they
be likely to rebloom.
So you can appreciate that alot of work goes into the hybridizing of
iris. While I can attest that it is alot of fun to "dabble" with
pollen (it is always the highlight of the day to see your "babies" open
for the first time) most of the advances will come from "professional" hybridizers
who do this on a large scale. The more times you "roll the dice" coupled
with the knowledge of what to expect from what -- the better your chances
of having a "winner". The good thing about growing iris is
that when someone hits the "jackpot" -- everyone wins when
they add that great new addition to their garden collection.
The Reblooming Iris Society
more information about iris, please click on
logos above to visit their web pages.
All photos are copyright, 2009, 2010, 2011 by Peter
Postel -- We do not sell iris. Please click on photos for information
regarding availability of cultivars.
Contact us: Our email address is shown below. Sorry, to cut down on spam,
it is not "clickable"