1884, Iris Susiana by Michael Foster

The Garden p.15, January 12, 1884


I HAVE only one or two additions to make to the remarks of Mr. Ewbank and Mr. Max Leichtlin. I do not think that the former's experimental comparison of the two modes of culture will prove much in one year, but in the long run I am sure the taking up plan will prove the inferior. It must be remembered that even when kept entirely from rain these plants are frequently not wholly at rest, at all events in the first period of the drying-off process. Young plants especially and pieces of rhizome too small to flower make very rapid growth under the stimulation of the lights. For instance, last summer a seedling I. iberica which l had planted in the preceding autumn, a tiny bit about the size of the end of my little finger, hardly made any growth till I put the lights on, and then in a few weeks grew to a patch of rhizomes about 5 inches in diameter. Hence, if you desire to increase your stock, you will find it best to leave the plants in the ground under lights and not to take them up.

Mr. Max Leichtlin takes off the lights late in July or early in August, and leaves the plants fully exposed all the winter. Now, " whatever Mr. Max Leichtlin does is right" has become by experience one of my cardinal doctrines in gardening, but qualified by the addition " at Baden-Baden." His winters are colder and dryer than ours: he has more snow and less rainy, muggy weather. And I am coming to the conclusion that it is well to manage the lights so that they can be put on during heavy winter rains. But the plants must not be " cossetted " and made tender by too much covering up. Let the lights be off all the autumn in any case, and do not put them on for frost or snow, but use them only to ward off the heavy rains which we too often get in our mild winters. I have some plants which have been fully exposed ever since August last, and I can see by their condition now that I must not expect such good bloom from them as would have come if this winter had been like that of '80-81. If "Veronica" should happen to live in a humid climate like that of Ireland, I would strongly advise him to plant his I. Susiana in thoroughly well drained ground in a sandy, gritty loam under a low south wall, and make arrangements for putting on lights whenever necessary. This may seem a good deal of trouble, but plants of this group, including the new ones promised by Mr. Max Leichtlin, are worth a little trouble.


For more information on historic Irises visit the Historic Iris Preservation Society at

-- BobPries - 2014-09-30
Topic revision: r1 - 30 Sep 2014, BobPries
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