Tuesday, January 9, 2018

New, Exciting Mohr-type Irises

By Bryce Williamson

In my one and only year at Chico State, one of the highlights was the ability to go to Leo T. Clark’s garden at Corning and to see his aril and arilbreds in bloom, irises that sadly had a limited growing range for growth. As a result, I have been keenly interesting in the new generation of Mohr-type arilbreds being introduced, often from a combination of medians and half arilbred irises. Current hybridizers have pushed the colors and patterns into new, exciting directions and the flowers, although only a quarter aril, show more of the aril characteristics that make this exotic group of irises so much fun to view especially since growing the half aril hybrids and pure arils can be a challenge in many climates.

Eye to Eye (Keppel) is an example of more aril-like flowers, including the signal,
and the winner of the 2017 American Iris Society Mohr Medal.
Image by Keith Keppel.

The hope of these new Mohr types is that they will expand the areas where they can be grown with little trouble and bring these exotic, flamboyant flowers to a much larger audience both in The American Iris Society and the general gardening public. For a background on these interesting hybrids, Tom Water wrote a informative World of Irises blog,  Arilbred Iris: A Little History.

Older Mohr type hybrids tended to be crosses of tall bearded irises with, at first, William Mohr, but the new hybrids are using medians and tall bearded irises with variety of arilbred hybrids. I do hope you, as I have done, will add some of these varieties to your garden, expanding your bloom season and bringing fresh colors and patterns into your palette of spring flowers.


Calypso Dancer (Tasco)--image by Rick Tasco

Confederate (Rick Tasco)--image by Rick Tasco

At the present time, the leaders in producing this new generation of Mohr type arilbreds includes Keith Keppel, Paul Black, Thomas Johnson, and Rick Tasco.



 Octave (T. Johnson)--image by Paul Black
 Sri Lanka (T. Johnson)--Image by Paul Black
Suspect (T. Johnson)--image by Paul Black

These are garden irises of limited fertility.  Paul Black in email wrote, "For most here is no fertility, especially the 1/2 breds X SDB....There is a very limited fertility with a few--meaning a seed of two."


His seedling V351A, pictured below, is "the result of Brash and Bold X reblooming TB seedling and there was only 1 seed in the cross, though V351A does show some limited fertility."

Brash and Bold (Black)--image by Paul Black


Black V351A--image by Paul Black

He was extremely lucky with the cross that produced four introductions, ‘Heart of Hearts’, ‘Galaxina’, ‘Perry Dyer’, ‘Red Ahead’ and ‘Soaring Falcon’ are all siblings.  As he wrote, "What a cross!  I’ve gotten a few seed from a couple of them and Adam Cordes has gotten 7 seeds from ‘Heart of Hearts.’"


Soaring Falcon
Red Ahead


 Heart of Hearts

Perry Dyer--images by Paul Black

In responding to my question about the range where these hybrids will grow and bloom, he wrote, "Yes, the aril-medians (1/2 bred X SDB) will grow further south than SDBs.  ‘Desert Snow’ has grown well and bloomed in Manitoba, Canada, and also for Walter Moores in Mississippi.  That probably accounts for its popularity."





Desert Snow--images by Paul Black

At this point, there are only a few sources for plants. Two reputable sources are Mid America and Superstition. Click on the nursery name and it will take you to a link where you can find out more information from the garden owners.




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