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Hybridization Techniques

Greetings, everyone!
	I have tried to cross several irises this year, and would like to ask 
some of the more seasoned veterans on the list about their techniques and 
tips. Keeping in mind that these are my first efforts, here is what I have 
been doing:
	1.  Select two iris to cross because they each have different merits. 
Usually one has a an interesting color and the other has great branching, 
high bud count, a sturdy stalk, etc, AND color(s) that I would like to see in 
the other iris. For example, one was ruffly and beautiful in color, but the 
stalk was very short, so I picked a white rebloomer with a strong, tall 
stalk, and pollenated a flower on the short one.  I have no idea what will 
result, but I was hoping for a beauty (maybe plicata) with better height and 
perhaps, rebloom.                                    
	2.  I pluck an anther from the pollen parent using tweezers, then 
take this to the other iris and rub some pollen into every stigmatic lip area 
of the flower. (I think some use an artist brush; I am certainly open to 
suggestions....) I have no clue how you intelligently choose which one 
recieves the pollen and which one donates the pollen; I'm certain that buying 
an electron microscope is out of the question, so don't suggest that! :-) 
	3.  Now I cover my right hand with a cut off nylon stocking, close 
the falls around the standards with my left hand, grasp the flower through 
the stocking covered right hand, then roll the stocking over the entire 
flower with my left hand while trying carefully to not break it off. Then I 
put a twist tie at the bottom. This is all very tricky; like juggling eggs! 
If this "protection step" is not needed I would love to eliminate it, since I 
have about 10% of the attempts break off in my inexperienced hands.
	4.  Finally, I tag them; for example "EAGLE'S WING pollen X WINESAP 
pod". (There must be a better way to tag them than I currently use, and I 
will be scoping out a horticultural catalog for good tags.) 
        Now what?
	Just yesterday, I saw that one or two of the attempts had not only 
failed, but had fallen off inside the stocking - probably due to the 
excessive rainfall.
	Should I be doing something else, like covering the effort in some 
type of shelter - maybe foil or plastic??
	How long should I leave the stalks with pollenated pods on the 
rhizome before harvesting them?
	Is there any chance that I too may become a successful hybridizer?!?!

	Any tips, techniques, recommended book(s) to purchase, etc., would be 
appreciated greatly by myself and other wannabe hybridizers lurking on this 
list. I will be offline for a few days to attend an out of state wedding, but 
will respond to all next week.  Thanks for your input!

Jim Schroetter
Fredericksburg, VA

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