Irises forum: Where did the horns go from my "Rocket Randy"

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Name: doglover
Illinois (Zone 5a)
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doglover
Jun 13, 2013 1:27 AM CST
For those iris experts here on the site, could you tell me why my iris "Rocket Randy" decided to produce it's second bloom without any horns? This is the second year for it to bloom.
Thumb of 2013-06-13/doglover/50d135
Thumb of 2013-06-13/doglover/d4a0c8
Thumb of 2013-06-13/doglover/d5e3df
You can see from the previous photo and the following photo that there are not any horns and the colors is not the same.
Thumb of 2013-06-13/doglover/2c0470
So what can I expect from this iris next year? This was not a so called "cheap" iris.
Here is last years photo. Any explanation.
Thumb of 2013-06-13/doglover/0af285
Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
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Paul2032
Jun 13, 2013 6:47 AM CST
I am not an expert on space agers but know that one of the hybridizers main goals is to introduce things that regularly produce the desired appendages.....to breed things that are stable. I'm not certain that they have reached that goal 100% of the time yet.
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
Name: Greg Hodgkinson
Hanover PA (Zone 6b)
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Misawa77
Jun 13, 2013 7:50 AM CST
I agree with Paul. Not yet 100% stable. I have Thornbird which has many "states" of horn appendages, even on the same stalk. ( "States" = no noticable horn all the way to massive full blown appendage)
Name: doglover
Illinois (Zone 5a)
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doglover
Jun 13, 2013 10:13 AM CST
Perhaps they should not be offered for sale on the market until they prove to be stable.....just my thought. I am not a hybridizer, just someone that admires the beauty of all plants. The higher ticket prices on certain items should also guarantee they will bloom true to what they are offering for sale. Are gardeners suppose to ask for a "refund" since they are not stable? What is your thought on this?
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
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irisarian
Jun 13, 2013 1:57 PM CST
They may be different in different climates as time is needed to produce appendages. if everything was stable there would be none. I suspect weather has a great deal to do with stability. It does when flowers sometimes have extra parts.
Name: doglover
Illinois (Zone 5a)
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doglover
Jun 13, 2013 10:00 PM CST
Lucy: You say that in different climates it takes time to produce appendages, ie: horns. Correct? SO they were produced last year. So am I to understand that each year it may bloom correctly/or incorrectly or is the iris going to completely revert back to what was used to create it? I am just trying to understand a little bit of what goes on. So iris sold as "space agers" quite possibly may not bloom correctly each year. is that correct?
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
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tveguy3
Jun 14, 2013 3:35 AM CST
Each year the growing conditions can change, i.e. longer, shorter, cooler, hotter, etc. The conditions this year can affect the bloom next year. Last year was hot and dry, many of the iris had smaller blooms for me, or shorter stems, or shorter appendages, etc. Some didn't bloom at all. Fertilitly can affect them as well as how crowded they are. Many of these things we can't control, but you can control water, fertilization, and crowding.
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Name: doglover
Illinois (Zone 5a)
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doglover
Jun 14, 2013 10:25 AM CST
Hi Tom: Yes, I understand all about the growing conditions effecting "PLANTS". A true gardener know all about these factors. Yes, we all understand about longer, shorter, cooler, hotter, etc. Yes, this years flowers (blooms) definitely will show the affects of the season before. Such as smaller, shorter, and no blooms. That is something gardeners have been dealing with and understand since the beginning of time. Crowding...not in this case. It had plenty of room. You say many things we can control such as water, fertilization and crowding. I can not control water since Mother Natures seems to have been providing wayyyyy to much water this year. My dirt is excellent rich black soil, the same as it was planted in last year and for crowding, I stated that it definitely was not crowded. So we have to discount everything except too much water, which in my belief should basically account for loosing iris due extra water.

All the above possible reasons , including to much water in my case should not have caused it to revert back.......on the same iris. Still looking for an explanation. Notice ,not only the horns are missing, but it has not bloomed even close to what was suppose to be. Nice frilly standards??? Color variation.

So am I and the other home gardeners to expect this from any and or all of my space age iris? Perhaps a person should not purchase them until they become stable........how many years should they prove stability before they are put on the market? I thought it was 5 years?
Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
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Paul2032
Jun 14, 2013 11:18 AM CST
I buy many iris which turn out better than expected and some that disappoint. Some in my garden are better some years and not quite as nice other years. Some are more consistent. Sometimes 2 plants are side by side and one excels while the other struggles. I would keep your experience in mind before I ordered more space agers.
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
Name: Greg Hodgkinson
Hanover PA (Zone 6b)
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Misawa77
Jun 14, 2013 11:22 AM CST
I have a few SA (Space Age'rs) and ALL of them do as you describe. They do not 100% bloom "true" if you will. Some seasons I have more blooms with the appendages and others where I have less. The same stalk will have different (possible) displays of exaggerated horns ect than others. Some are more likely to be better at blooming true than other cultivars, reguardless of the circumstances(ie water, fert., Sun, warmth, ect).

I just enjoy them and marvel.

Name: Greg Hodgkinson
Hanover PA (Zone 6b)
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Misawa77
Jun 14, 2013 11:23 AM CST
Ditto what Paul said (I was writing as he posted) He just said it better!!!
Name: doglover
Illinois (Zone 5a)
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doglover
Jun 14, 2013 7:41 PM CST
Thanks Paul and Greg: It is nice to hear the truth about a certain plant. Now that I know that, it will be something to expect from them every year. Most novice home gardeners that are not growers, do not know the ins and out about such things. Only hybridizer and specialist in that field, or from folks like you that have experienced this themselves and accept this is a problem that can happen. Perhaps you have friends that have experienced this and/or know growers. Catalogs do not explain any of this, they just sell. sell, sell. Perhaps I am being too honest with my feeling, but I am sure there are a lot of other novice home gardeners that have just found out about Space Age iris if they should be reading this post. These are definitely little known facts that need to be shared with the consumer. Thus the buyer can make the decision to purchase them knowing this may happen..

Being said, I will pass this information on to all my garden friends and relatives should they purchase or decide to purchase any such iris. Mesmerizer bloomed true to its pictures and information I received when I purchased it and has bloomed reliable this year. It is a beauty. Thanks for clearing a few things up. I take it that it will take several years for Space Age iris growers to perfect these iris. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy all my beautiful plants, even the ones that do not bloom true to name.

And yes, I have plants planted next to each other and one excels and the other does not do as well, but it usually blooms true to name.
[Last edited by doglover - Jun 14, 2013 7:43 PM (+)]
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Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
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Paul2032
Jun 14, 2013 7:54 PM CST
One of the hottest things in Hostas now is streakers.....Some come as hybrids and others as mutations of an existing plant. They are often not vary stable and revert to a solid colored plant . They are expensive to buy and the catalogs some times indicate in the description if they are stable or not. They still sale to fancier/addicts.
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
Name: Mary Ann
Kentucky
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Muddymitts
Jun 14, 2013 8:27 PM CST
Years ago, I bought a dozen or so variegated monkey grass plants -- planted them in front of two burning bushes -- planted in front of a birch tree. I thought the variety of colors and textures would be striking. And they were -- for awhile. Pretty soon the burning bushes covered up the trunks and therefore the bark of the birch tree (which is the whole point of a birch tree) -- and the variegated monkey grass turned into plain green monkey grass. My exotic focal point in the yard turned very bland.

The best plans go awry -- and plants cannot be counted upon to remain true to form.
Thoughts become things -- choose the good ones. ([url=www.tut.com]www.tut.com[/url])
Name: doglover
Illinois (Zone 5a)
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doglover
Jun 14, 2013 10:35 PM CST
Thanks Paul and Maryann: So to sum it up, I guess if you are selling, trading, or giving away plants........as you say......."plants cannot be counted upon to remain true to name"......so you just have to be happy with whatever they turn out to be. No guarantee on anything. This advice is something all gardeners have to share and realize that they cannot rely on pictures when they purchase plants, there are absolutely no guarantees. The ideal situation of being able to look at a beautiful plant thru pictures or at a nursery or garden center with hopes it will bloom true to the picture.......just sheds some light on things and really makes me think before I put my money out there again. Yes, I have seen this a lot in the hostas. Spilt Milk is just one example of this. We all understand that color varies because of the ink quality used in printing pictures. We do not want to start that discussion, we all realize this.

Most gardeners have experienced it in some form or another with other plants as you are mentioning.....hostas, grasses, etc, and so forth. I guess to really sum it up is that folks need to pay attention to how much they are spending and realize they probably will not be able to rely on it to bloom "true to name" year after year. Too bad the price does not reflect this, perhaps the prices should go down or buyers need to ask for refunds if this is going to be happening ......as you say......."plants cannot be counted upon to remain true to name."

I would say as a home gardener, there is just way too much experimenting out there. Perhaps things should be tested longer before they are put on the market, then they would be tried and tested. Five years must not be long enough. Trials gardens need to be set up in every zone for testing........probably not going to happen. Very informative and perhaps getting off the subject of the iris, sorry. Looks like we have another topic.
Name: Arlyn
Whiteside County, Illinois (Zone 5a)
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crowrita1
Jun 15, 2013 6:36 AM CST
i had an experience with Bishop's Weed, and I think that the same thing happened with your monkey grass.....When allowed to go to seed... the "new" plants revert to the original color forms, AND their rampant growth! They soon become a real pest !and are hard to eradicate, as well. Thankfully, your space age iris won't do that! I have no "space-agers(yet !)", in fact most of mine are still in the "horse-and-buggy" era, but I have noticed a lot of "different", or "deformed", or "strange" blooms, over the years. Most, probably weather related, some ,maybe from chemical exposure, and some ."just because"! Point is, nature is full of suprises, and just because we try to changr it( in this case by hybridizing), we're not going to eliminate them. I think most "space -agers", MOST of the time, appear ALMOST the same. But NOT always, just like a lot of things, there will be differences, maybe small, and maybe great, but, differences, just the same. So my advise...enjoy the differences!...they're part of what makes the iris so interesting(to me at least)..Arlyn I tip my hat to you.
Name: Mary Ann
Kentucky
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Muddymitts
Jun 15, 2013 7:46 AM CST
You're prolly right Arlyn -- that's as good an explanation as I've been able to come up with. I'm gonna spray 'em all out (the monkey grass), severely prune back the burning bushes -- and try again. Maybe with daylilies -- they seem to stay true to form pretty well.
Thoughts become things -- choose the good ones. ([url=www.tut.com]www.tut.com[/url])
Name: doglover
Illinois (Zone 5a)
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doglover
Jun 15, 2013 2:39 PM CST
Aryln and MaryAnn: Good luck with trying to rid yourself of unwanted out of control plants. I still think there is a lot of difference in comparison. Yes, I too had the same problem with the bishops weed reverting back and never have grown Monkey Grass. I do know that from my own experiences, there seems to be a big difference in the costs of new introductions of specialty plants such as iris, daylilies, Echinacea and such....and we can go on and on. I do not use any chemical since I live close to the river so I can rule that out and yes, mother nature does throw us a curve.

That said, I think the hybridization is the culprit. As I mentioned before, in my opinion, testing needs to be done for more years before putting out to the market for sale. Oh, would it be nice if the "Space Agers" would spread like the Bishops Weed and Monkey Grass. Then I would have a better chance to get truly named iris. A large patch of surprise iris would be very pretty.... as long as they did not cost $$$$$s to start with.

So, I have learned a lesson from all this and will probably try to stay away from the newer hybridized varieties. As I said, I love all perennials it is just that one can not afford to keep loosing varieties that they paid good $$$'s for only to find they have who-knows-what coming back each year. Besides, when one does not live on many acres of land, they are limited in space to grow plants. I live on less than one acre and love many varieties and species. So, something will have to go and on the other hand, it is hard to trade, give away or in some cases, sell ones that do not have a name or are not reliable. Thanks for all your comments and sharing your experiences. This is just my opinion. Love this site, nice to share our thoughts.
[Last edited by doglover - Jun 15, 2013 3:03 PM (+)]
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Name: Kent Pfeiffer
Southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
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KentPfeiffer
Jun 15, 2013 3:38 PM CST

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doglover said: can not afford to keep loosing varieties that they paid good $$$'s for only to find they have who-knows-what coming back each year.


You haven't really lost anything. There's every chance that, when 'Rocket Randy' blooms next year, it will have the space age beard appendages you are hoping for. Sometimes, you get the wrong weather at the wrong time at some point during the spring and they end up not looking their best. This is what Sirocco Mist looked like two years ago in my garden:



I was quite disappointed in its form. This year, it looked like this:

Thumb of 2013-06-15/KentPfeiffer/3150e3

This particular iris was hybridized by Barry Blyth. He could have tested it for 20 years and it still would have looked poor in 2011 and great in 2013 (except that I wouldn't have been able to buy it of course) in my garden. Just one of those things.
[Last edited by KentPfeiffer - Jun 15, 2013 4:10 PM (+)]
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Name: doglover
Illinois (Zone 5a)
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doglover
Jun 15, 2013 4:07 PM CST
Hi Kent: Thank you for joining in and offering your comments of your own experience. I appreciate your taking the time. I am sure other novice gardener will also appreciate reading about my experience and perhaps this may have answered some questions they have been wanting to ask but have not had the chance or were skeptical about even asking. As Paul said earlier, "I would keep your experience in mind before you order any more Space Agers".

Glad to know that I have not completely lost the original Space Age iris, "Rocket Randy". Hopeful that it will return in 2014 in its original state. Thank you for telling me that "He could have tested it for 20 years and it still could look poor", that is how I am interpreting your statement. That said and not being a horticulturist, hybridizer and/grower, I realize that when a person does end up with a new iris, tested it for 5 years ( ? ), they still can not be assured it will bloom correctly year after year. So I need to keep that in mind if ever the day should come that I try my hand at creating (hybridizing).

Good luck with all the new hybridizing you and some of the others are doing. I appreciate your adding some comments and clarity to the true nature of iris that have been changed due to hybridization. Very interesting and informative. Keep up sharing all your knowledge. Thanks folks. Marsha

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