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Re: OT:Bio: Laurie Flynn / Book query

  • Subject: Re: [iris-talk] OT:Bio: Laurie Flynn / Book query
  • From: "Jeff and Carolyn Walters" <jcwalters@bridgernet.com>
  • Date: Sun, 19 Aug 2001 17:30:45 -0600

> Laurie Flynn, from southern Maine, new to iris-talk
> I'm looking for a book with detailed information about
> hybridizing, including what to do in cold climates.  I
> did my first crosses this year, and got one pod (well,
> it's two, I guess - they're connected), but I did this
> based on a skimpy overview on hybridizing from a
> commercial grower in Texas, and now am not sure how to
> proceed in my Zone 3/4 climate (there's blind
> fanaticism for you! lol).  I've searched the archives
> for references to books, and found The World Of Irises
> mentioned a lot (have there been updated editions of
> this since '78, or just reprintings?).  Does this have
> a good, comprehensive section on hybridizing?  Are
> there any other favorite books that folks would want
> to recommend?  I'm also looking for any good technical
> books on the genetics of irises - an Amazon search
> didn't turn up anything.

Hi, Laurie!

Welcome to Iris-talk! I hope you will feel at home here and find the
information you are seeking.

Now that you have your pods, you wait until they ripen and harvest the
seeds before the drying pods burst open and scatter them all over the
place. If you are not sure when that might happen, tie a gauzy fabric (such
as an old pantyhose)  around the pod to catch and hold the seeds. In mild
winter climates the seeds can be planted almost immediately after they
ripen; in cold winter climates, planting the seeds must be deferred late
enough so there is no chance of their germinating before winter comes.
Remove the seeds from the pods and keep them in a dry, airy place until it
is time to sow them. I sow my seeds in mid- to late October, and I expect
similar timing should work for you. Sow the seeds in labeled plastic pots.
There has been a lot of discussion on the list lately, which I assume you
have seen, about how thickly or thinly to do so. Put the pots outside in a
sheltered position, buried to the rim in the ground. You want to choose a
spot that will not thaw out too early in the Spring to keep the seeds from
germinating before the last killing frosts occur. Once the seedlings have
germinated, wait until the leaves are about one-and-a-half inches long, and
then transplant the seedlings to prepared ground in the garden in a sunny,
but preferably sheltered spot. Space the seedlings about 6 to 8 inches
apart both ways. If you have a lot of seedlings, provide access between
rows so you can tend to their needs. Keep them well watered and weeded
during the growing season, and you should have at least some bloom the
second spring if you are growing bearded irises. BTW, I don't think your
climate is as extreme as you have indicated, unless you are gardening in an
isolated frost pocket. Southern Maine away from the coast is USDA Zones
4b/5a; the nearest Zone 3 area to you is in the vicinity of where the
borders of Maine, NH, and Quebec converge.

The World of Irises is probably the best reference that is generally
available for the genetics of irises, and no, it hasn't been updated. Bill
Shear's "The Gardener's Iris Book" is a good source for basic information
on making crosses and raising seedlings. Both are available from the AIS
Storefront. Check it out at the American Iris Society website,

Happy hybridizing!

Jeff Walters in northern Utah  (USDA Zone 4/5, Sunset Zone 2, AHS Zone 7)


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