Create Your Own Irises!

It is possible for even amateurs to create their own irises by hybridizing!  It really is easy because irises are easily pollinated, the seed sets readily, and it is even easy to grow the seed. You never know if your creation might be something remarkable.  Although hybridizers rely on genetics in determining parental rules of inheritance and compatibility, a basic knowledge of the mechanics of fertilization is all that is really necessary for the amateur.

There are two sets of chromosomes in every iris cell except the pollen and ovule.  The genes on the chromosomes determine all the characteristics of the iris, i.e., size, color, form, how it will grow, number of buds, branch spread, reactions to disease, etc.  Both the male sexual stamen and the female ovary are found in each flower.  The sexual organs each have half the chromosomes; thus, when pollinization occurs, the pollen from one flower unites with the ovule of another flower, and the new combination of genes results in the possibility of creating different plants within the developing seed of the cross.

A very simple method of hand pollinating is to use tweezers to remove the stamen from the selected male pollen parent.  The stamen is ready when it is split open, revealing the pollen grains.  The pollen grains may be pale blue, white, or yellow in color.  Lifting the top of the style crest on the selected female parent reveals the wet, sticky-looking stigma.  Very gently pull the stamen across the stigma, depositing pollen grains on the stigma.  Repeat the process on the other two stigmas.

Within no time, you will be collecting your ripened seed pods and planting your iris seed.

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