1896, Iris Lupina

Garden And Forest p.214, May 27, 1896

Plant Notes


Iris lupina. — The Wolf's Ear Iris is found in Mesopotamia and Central Asia, and is one of the introductions of recent years. Like the other Oncocyclus Irises, this is a spring-flowering plant, and coming from a country of rain-less summers, it naturally becomes dormant soon after flowering and wakes into life again when the fall rains begin.

I. lupina varies materially from I. Susiana, the best known of this section, especially in the form of the flowers, the falls being lance-shaped and the standards being oval, not orbicular, as in I. Susiana and most other Oncocyclus Irises. Like other Irises of this section, it has scanty, narrow and dwarf foliage, and the characteristic coloration of narrow veins on a ground of contrasting color. In this case the veins are purplish brown on a yellow or greenish yellow ground, a combination familiar in some Cypripediums, and altogether quiet, dainty and indescribable. Of course, language always fails to give any adequate description of the colors of flowers, especially when they are unusual shades of primary colors, but it is quite as impossible to describe the infinite varieties of forms which give individuality to every Iris. Altogether, I. lupina is well worth growing for its distinctness and beauty of form and coloring. It has flowered nicely with Mr. Gerard, who, after many experiments, has finally adopted as closely as possible the method of culture worked out by Herr Leichtlin. The rhizomes, which are reliably hardy, should be dried off a few weeks after flowering and kept perfectly dry until late in the year. These Irises are treated in Mr. Gerard's garden as if they were hardy bulbs whose leaves are not frost-proof. After ripening them up they are stored in perfectly dry earth in a cool cellar and planted out at the end of November, at which time the ground is too cool to encourage growth. Planted out in a perfectly open border, without protection, they make no growth until after early frosts are over, and if they were properly grown the previous year their flowering is a matter of course. This season they have required artificial watering, as there has been practically no rain here since March. Every one who has bought Oncocyclus Iris roots, especially of the new kinds and those which have been collected, has been struck by their apparent weakness, and this suggested to Mr. Gerard that it might be well to grow them on so as to secure stronger plants. The result was strong roots, but no increase of flowers, so that with his present experience he is not prepared to say that strong roots and luxuriant foliage are conducive to successful flowering. On points like this, however, it is not well to be dogmatic.

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

-- BobPries - 2014-11-06
Topic revision: r1 - 06 Nov 2014, BobPries
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