After pollen has been placed on the stigmatic lip of the bearded iris seed parent, the pollen grains must then sprout and grow a long, hollow tube down into the ovary where the ovules, or potential seeds, are fertilized. If the cross was successful, then approximately three days after pollination, the ovary will begin to swell. If the cross was not successful, then given a few more days, the ovary will turn yellow, shrink, and drop off.
The successfully fertilized ovary will continue growing larger through the summer. When the bearded iris seed pod ripens, it will begin to turn yellow or brown and crack open at the top, revealing brown and glossy seeds ready to be harvested. If you made a lot of bearded iris crosses, it may be necessary to identify the cross and collect the seeds separately in envelopes. Each cross should be recorded when made in a journal or notebook. The first cross made in 2011 would be recorded as 2011-1. Following the cross number record the name of the bearded iris seed parent X the name of the bearded iris pollen parent. Tags with this information should be attached to the seed parent’s bloom stalk just below the ovary at the time of fertilization. Additional information to include in your journal or notebook would be the quantity of seeds collected from each cross. Eventually, each seedling will receive its own number; i.e., 2011-1-5, meaning the fifth seedling of the first cross in 2011!
The iris seeds can be planted outdoors in a well-prepared sunny bed or they can be started indoors in greenhouses, sun rooms or on a bright sunny windowsill.