Monday, November 17, 2014

Why Grow Rebloomers?

by Betty Wilkerson

In the world of irises, there are different guidelines for garden judging and exhibition judging.  What is the difference, you ask? Show bench irises for exhibition only have to look good, and be good, for one day.

'Summer Radiance' (Wilkerson 96)
Garden judging involves how an iris appears in the garden, not for just one day, but for the full iris season. It also assesses plant health, branching, bud count, and sequence of bloom, among other things.  Sequence of bloom not only involves how the blooms open on the stalk, one at a time, two at a time etc., but how the stalks extend from the iris clump.  For instance, an iris I grew years ago had approximately 15 stalks and they all opened the terminal buds on the same day, and then it bloomed all of the first branch primary buds a couple of days later. Yes, it was beautiful, but the clump was finished blooming in just a few days. An iris that puts up one stalk at a time, like 'Summer Radaince,' displays its beauty for a much longer time.

'Vanishing Act' (Wilkerson 2004)

'Echo Location' (Wilkerson 2007)

'Returning Chameleon' (Wilkerson 1995)
When you hear people speak of their remontant irises, they are talking about reblooming irises. Reblooming irises extend the length of bloom per season, per iris. Since there are only two or three fall shows for reblooming irises in the United States of America, most of my focus is on hybridizing good garden qualities.  I'm particularly fond of irises that are dependable for rebloom, as are those shown on this page.

Seedling # 1907-10Re 
My interest in rebloom began over 30 years ago, because I love iris blooms so much that spring bloom was not enough for me.  I'm as thrilled with one bloom as most people are with a whole clump!  When planting a new rebloom bed in my garden, I first research the cultivars that rebloom well in my area, zone 6. Second, I plant them in a good spot.  Third, I make sure I water and fertilize them well.  Nevertheless, there are no guarantees! We are still bargaining with Mother Nature.

As a breeder, I have the added advantage of seeing seedlings, like 1907-10Re, that others may never see. Ask any questions you like.  Enjoy!

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