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Re: Hybridization Techniques

Jim Schroetter writes

:        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


:        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;

This is how I often do it. A brush makes the pollen go further, if the pollen
is scarce or you want to use it for many crosses. Conventional wisdom says
that it matters little which plant is the pod parent and which is the pollen
parent. The possible importance of maternal inheritance has been discussed
earlier on this list. Check the archives if you're interested.


: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.

Most hybridizers do not protect bearded iris crosses at all. Not many
blooms will set seed from natural pollination; chances are very good that
if you get to the bloom early with lots of pollen, all the seeds that
result will be from the pollen you applied.

However, contamination is still possible, particularly if the pollen you
apply is not very effective for some reason (a wide cross, old pollen,
sparse pollen, etc.). I'd guess that maybe 1 in 100 published parentages
is in error because of contamination.

:        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.)

By convention, the pod parent is listed first. Hence you could write
simple WINESAP x EAGLE'S WING. I use regular cardboard pricetags marked
with a "weatherproof" black marker, which *usually* holds up until harvest
time. As added identification, I record each cross in a notebook and
try to pollinate all the blooms on a stalk with the same pollen.

:        Now what?


:        How long should I leave the stalks with pollenated pods on the
:rhizome before harvesting them?

The pods will eventually dry up and start to split open from the top--
this some time in the late summer, usually. When you notice the split
start to open, shell the seeds out of the pod and let them air dry.

:        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

_The World of Irises_ is always a good place to start. You can also join
an AIS hybridizing robin. Perhaps one of the best places to learn about
hybridizing techniques is right here! Ask away!


Tom Tadfor Little         tlittle@lanl.gov  -or-  telp@Rt66.com
technical writer/editor   Los Alamos National Laboratory
Telperion Productions     http://www.rt66.com/~telp/

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