Monday, September 17, 2012

ACHOO ! by Jim Murrain


    I admit I wondered if I could think of anything new to post. Having the worst cold I've had in years has not helped. I was digging through my photos looking for inspiration when I came across some old pictures of Iris suffering a virus of their own. 


    As you can see, a virus can be quite beautiful when a flower catches one. This was an icy blue Iris cristata. Every fan in the clump was affected at the same time. The dark blue stripes made for an astounding looking flower but the plant was very weak and did not survive the summer.


Another Iris that came down with a virus that manifested on the leaves and bracts only. The flowers were unaffected. This was a typical Iris magnifica until it became ill. 


As you can see the bright yellow foliage with green stripes was quite showy. I was excited when I first saw this as I thought it was a variegated sport. Alas, it barely managed to open its last flower before collapsing never to be seen again.


    Iris with broken colored flowers and variegation do not have a virus. You can grow these with no worries of infecting the other iris in your garden. I often hear someone state that all variegated plants have a virus and this is patently untrue. 
    There are, of course, always exceptions. Iris latifolia, the 'English Iris' nearly always displays the results of a minor viral infection. Even when grown from seed it will eventually develop a stippling of color on the flower that resembles a broken color Iris. This seems to do no harm to the plant however and there is nothing to suggest it can pass the virus on to other Iris.
    Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go blow my nose!

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