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HYB: observations

What I've learned this year:

My technique for storing pollen from one year to the next needs work.
The pollen collected from rebloomers last fall was still viable, but
none of the early crosses using pollen collected last spring were
successful.  Probably left out at room temperature too much during
spring bloom season.  This year, after drying, I'm trying harder to keep
all the pollen in the fridge between crosses.

Contrary to what I read on the web last summer as a generalization about
plants that the pollen is first to lose viability when a plant is
stressed, I've been able to get viable pollen this year from absolutely
wretched looking plants that clearly are much too stressed to set a pod,
much less carry it to maturity.  FOREIGN KNIGHT made a stunted little
stalk with two partially shriveled blooms at the top - both produced a
little bit of pollen that struck pods on everything I used it on.

In case you are wondering why bother, this is one of three experiments
to see whether or not cultivars that tend to be miniaturized here can
produce normal children.  The other two are WHO'S YOUR DADDY and GOLDEN
PANTHER.  Both of these others are otherwise considerably more healthy
than FOREIGN K, though none produced particularly healthy looking
stalks.  Plants are average or less.

Stressed plants are very unlikely to set pods, no matter what the
temperature, humidity, or rain.  If the leaf bases are scummy looking
from all the rain here, the plants won't set pods.  If they are just
leaf spotted and otherwise seem to be not prone to sogginess, they
usually will, if I catch the bloom under the right conditions.

Weather conditions before, during and after the cross matter more for
plants that are less than super vigorous.  This applies to pollen source
as well, I think.

Prying open blooms and pollinating them results in many more successful
crosses than waiting for the blooms to open on their own, regardless of
time of day.

Some cultivars open blooms in the heat of the afternoon, some at night,
some early in the morning, some in the evening.  Each cultivar seems to
be fairly consistent about the time of day it opens its blooms.  I

One thing for sure, I was definitely trying to make crosses in previous
years when it was much too hot out.  By waiting for blooms to open on
their own and by working mostly with late bloomers, it was usually well
into the 80s and even 90s.

I hope all those thoughts are helpful to other beginners growing
stressed irises.

Linda Mann east Tennessee USA zone 7/8
East Tennessee Iris Society <http://www.korrnet.org/etis>
American Iris Society web site <http://www.irises.org>
talk archives: <http://www.hort.net/lists/iris-talk/>
photos archives: <http://www.hort.net/lists/iris-photos/>
online R&I <http://www.irisregister.com>

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