Unable to view Iris foetidissima Post

eroctuse2(z5 SE Michigan)November 10, 2009


Are you able to view your post regarding I. foetidissima? I can't view it and I've been wondering what you had to say or what you were wondering about it.

Though I don't own it yet, it's always been a fascinating plant to me and I'm curious what made you bring it up. I've always wanted to work with it.

If you're still interested and able, will you repost?

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bari26(6 (Cape Cod))

hmmmm, I couldn't bring up that post, either... but, like you, I'm interested in iris foetidissima.... I tried to buy some rhizomes from a catalog (not an iris grower, but a general plant catalog) last year, but they both promptly died off. I complained, the catalog actually replaced them, and, so far, they are still viable.... I was told they like to be grown in shade, but that was where I had planted them..... anyway, would like to see some discussion here about them.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 8:00AM
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I also wondered about the unreadable post.......:-) I've grown this iris - both the straight species and the variegated form - for years in my former garden. In my climate, it is typically recommended for dry shade locations, which makes it a rather handy plant for a tough planting situation, but it can also be grown in quite a lot of sun.

This is not necessarily an iris to be grown for its flower effect. It is not very showy. The flowers are a pale mauve color, usually with yellow markings, and are often held within the tall foliage (evergreen in my climate) and can easily pass notice. The variegated form is also a very reluctant bloomer - I think I had only one or two flowers on a clump that was easily 15 years old. But the everpresent, clean, upright variegated foliage was a handsome addition to my shade garden anyway.

The big attraction with this iris - at least the green form - is its seedheads. Seedpods form after the flowers fade and mature during the summer and early fall. In late fall, they split open to reveal big clusters of bright red-orange 'berries' that remain present throughout the winter. In my garden these seeds would eventually be dispersed by the dogs or wind, etc. and I'd have seedling irises popping up here and there.

In culture, this iris is most similar to Siberians or some of the other beardless species iris. It is slow to develop and expand but it divides easily, although the fleshy root system of a mature clump is heavy and massive.

I recently moved to a new, mostly shaded garden and I am kicking myself that I didn't take any starts of this plant with me - it's not that easy to find. Propagation is often limited because of a rust that plagues it, especially the variegated form, although I have never had any issues with it in that regard. In fact, the foliage IME stays pretty much unblemished - even slugs don't bother it.

Here is a link that might be useful: GPP - Iris foetidissima 'Variegata'

    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 9:33AM
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bari26(6 (Cape Cod))

If you want to replace the foetidissima that you left behind (and can't sneak back to your old home and swipe some), Aitken's Salmon Creek Garden sells both the "lutea" and the variegata; the non-varigated sells for 3.50, the varigated (spelling?) for $5.00.... of course, I haven't ordered them from him, because I was ordering tb's from someone else and didn't want to send an order for just a couple of things and pay that postage! I actually got mine from Royal Bulbs (whom I can't really recommend, but like I said above, they did replace the ones I got that died, so for that I have to give them credit....). Terry Aitken has a website: www.flowerfantasy.net
with a large catalog attached (difficult for me to navigate, for some reason).

anyway, it is for those "berries" that I wanted to get the iris... it just looks interesting to me and I wanted to see what it really looks like....

    Bookmark   November 12, 2009 at 9:51AM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

The post is part of the problem GW experienced Fri night late, just as several of the back pages here are missing. They said they were not lost for good and they expected to retrieve them, but did not post when that would be. Threads were lost at some other forums too.


    Bookmark   November 12, 2009 at 3:24PM
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mooseling(Z5 CO)

I thought I already replied to this. Must be that ADD sneaking up on me again.

Anyway, I mostly wanted to know if anyone knew the hardiness zone for these guys. I've seen them listed as far down as 4 some places, and sometimes, only down to 8. It seems like 6 was a very popular one that I've seen. Has anyone grown them successfully in zone 4 or 5?

Right now, my iris is in a pot indoors since I wasn't sure on the hardiness. I'll plant him out in the spring and then bring him back in. At least until I get a few extras to experiment with.

I got mine from somewhere in Oregon. I can't remember which place. I'm pretty sure it was in Mollala, though. My mom was out there and I made her pick one up for me. And I. sanguinea too. I can probably find out the name of the place I got mine from if anyone wants to check it out. I know they've got a website because that's how I knew they had the species I wanted. Just can't remember. Probably because I visit too many iris sites.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2009 at 8:54PM
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eroctuse2(z5 SE Michigan)

Too many online communities and not enough time!! And now I'm adding a draft horse forum and facebook to my online regimen...

Thank-you everyone that chimed in. It's been interesting and educational reading your replies.


A book I'm going to finish reading today (The Gardener's Iris Book) said that it is "reliably hardy at least to USDA Zone 6". I agree that safe is better than sorry in this case.

Also, my best guess for your source is Wildwood Gardens, because they're located in Molalla, OR and have it listed here.

Good luck!

Maybe 2010 will be the year that I finally get a few to work with and bring some diversity to the deep shade iris world. Everyone says the blooms are insignificant, but I've always thought the photos were absolutely gorgeous.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2009 at 2:07PM
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mooseling(Z5 CO)

I'm pretty sure that it was Wildwood. Because they have the variegated varieties and I remember telling my mom not to get those ones several times.

Before I got that plant, I bought some seeds online. I planted them in the summer and had them in my refrigerator, but they froze, so I wasn't sure if they were going to survive or germinate. I even considered throwing them out, but I kept them, and just the other day, I noticed that I have three little seedlings! I'm so excited about them. I even had a dream that I had twelve more last night. Sadly, that was only a dream, but some Aroid seeds that I got at the same time have germinated as well. But now I check the little pots several times a day just in case I get some more baby irises.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2009 at 6:11PM
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garden_of_mu(Z7/8 PNW)

I'm delighted to see so much interest in this species! It is one that is neglected IMO. More needs to be done to improve the flowers, as they are rather drab unless you take the time to examine them up close. A few notes from my experiences with them:

Zone 6 is about their limit. Maybe zone 5 if you give them good protection during winter, but their native climates are western Europe coast down thru north Africa - Mild areas to say the least.

They are difficult to divide and transplant and I have lost several starts trying. I still do not know the best time of year for it. Anyone have any ideas? I usually try to take a whole clump or a large chunk on one rather than an individual rhizomes.

The flowers are usually a dull lavender that end in pods of orange seeds, but you can also find yellow flowered varieties with yellow seeds, and white flowered ones with white seeds. SIGNA is an excellent resource for the seeds for these, and they are super easy to grow from seed. The bright seed pods and gorgeous deep green foliage make them of garden interest thruout the year.

They can take full sun to mostly shade and will still do well. They do like a dry soil in summer, so will do very well on the west coast, but in beds I water regularly they do fine.

I know of only one registered and named variety so there is alot of room to work with this species should one have an interest in hybridizing. I have three starts from seed of the yellow variety, commonly called Citrina, in the ground now and hope to begin crossing this spring. Larger flowers, cleaner colors and taller stems are the goal. Maybe in another ten years I'll have something really wonderful for the effort. We'll see!


    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 4:30PM
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mooseling(Z5 CO)

Flowers, schmowers. Who cares about flowers for this one? It's called a "stinking iris." That's got to be good! Of course, I think I'm one of the few people who wants to get plants for reasons besides the way they look.

I have two protected areas where I'm thinking about putting them. One is really nice - I've got an Agapanthus and Gladiolus that are overwintering there. The other I'll probably have to give some additional winter protection, but I noticed that a rhododendron was still green there, while the others have browned up, and there's a ton of weeds still growing there too. At least keeping them dry won't be a problem.

Good to know about dividing and transplanting. Hopefully I get plenty of seed to regrow them from.

In ten years, I'll be waiting to see what kind of irises you've made!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 1:24AM
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