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How to Hybridize Irises

I recently started an iris garden and would like to learn how to hybridize my own irises.

Begin with the end in mind. Select parents that closely resemble the results you are trying to achieve. Select one plant to be the female parent (it will produce the seeds) and another to provide the pollen (male parent). Visit the garden early in the morning just as the flowers are unfurling. Remove the falls (3 drooping petals) of the female parent you have selected. This eliminates the landing platform for insects reducing the risk of unwanted insect pollination. Remove the male flower parts to prevent self pollination. Now pick the anthers (male flower parts) from the open male parent. Rub the anther on the stigma (female portion) of the female parent. Label and record your crosses. The flowers will soon fade and if you are successful a plump green pod will soon develop. Harvest the pods when the tip begins to split. Keep in a dry location to finish ripening. Remove seeds from pods and store in a cool dark location for fall or spring planting. For more detailed directions see The Gardener’s Guide to Growing Irises by Geoff Stebbings.


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