Search This Blog

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Pacific Coast Iris

This is a great time to visit the nursery if you are interested in Pacific Coast Irises.  Most of the nursery plants are in flower and the irises in the gardens are also coming into bloom.

Pacific Coast Irises (PCI) are a group of 11 species of beardless irises that occur only in states along the West Coast of the U.S. from Southern Washington southward through Oregon and into Central California.  PCI species and naturally occurring hybrids typically have narrow petals or falls, some with intricate vein patterns, and a prominent patch to attract insects.  They occur in a wide range of colors including white, yellow, blue, and all shades of purple.  

Pacific Coast Irises are so closely related that they hybridize freely with one another to produce new and interesting results. This occurs in nature when they grow in close proximity to one another and it is often difficult to accurately identify plants found in the wild. 

Iris hybridizers have developed complex PCI hybrids and the plants sold in nurseries are often many generations removed from wild plants.  The result of these hybridizing efforts can be seen in an seemingly infinite array of colors, patterns, sizes and forms.  We grow our own PCI hybrids at Wild Ginger Farm and many of the plants we offer are our own hybrids. 

Pacific Coast Irises grow best in Western climates with winter rainfall and low summer rainfall and low humidity.   They are difficult to grow in areas east of the Rockies that have high summer humidity.   PCI are best grown in sun to part shade in well-drained soil with low summer water.  Their drought tolerance makes them welcome and colorful additions to drier areas of sunny and open woodland gardens.