Your question is a very basic and
very good one, as every one of us who were once beginners in this asked
the same question. How does it happen?
First thing is to get acquained with
the pieces and parts of an iris flower.
I would suggest taking an iris from
the garden, and break it from the stalk so that at the bottom of what
you break off is a part of the flower that ends in a little
barrel-shaped definitely green thing just where the flower breaks away
from the stem.
Next. carefully break off all three
falls (outside petals or "sepals) and all three standards (upright
petals) from the flower itself.
That leave three sort of petal like
structures that arch outward from the top of what you have left. Those
are called the STYLE ARMS. At their end they flare out and up in two
parts. If you carefully pull those a little bit apart, you will see a
shelf that is underneath them. That is the female receptive part of an
Just underneath the style arms, if
you turn the flower over, you will find a narrow stem running along the
rib of the style arm with a pair of parallel parts at its end that
should have, if the flower is male fertile, a fluffy powder on them.
Those are the stamens, the male organ of the iris.
To cross an iris, take a pair of
tweezers, or if your fingers are dexterous enough use them, and pick
the stamen from an iris you want to use for a parent, and take it to
another flower that has recently opened. If the shelf on the style
arms is glistening and fresh looking, having a little bit of moisture
to make the glistening, it is ready to pollenate. Just take the stamen
and brush the end of it across the shelf. You'll probably have to open
the two flared up ends of the style arrm to expose that shelf.
It's best to put the pollen on all
three shelves of the flower--those are called the "stigmatic lips," by
It will be helpful if you could see
this in pictures. Several people could point you to a set of photos.
Navigate downward until you hit the
"Hybridizing" section. That same page has information on planting the
seeds and answers many other questions about iris growing and care.
There are other sources of
information--in general, the two best places to start, in my notion
(and these will tell you much MORE than you ever wanted to know!) are
the American Iris Society and the World Iris Society websites. The URL
for the AIS is http://www.irises.org and
for the World and historical group, is
I think these references will keep
you entertained--and get you hooked for sure if you are anything like
the rest of us! What a feast of information there is on the Web about
plants, and irises especially.
Neil Mogensen USDA zone 7 (barely)
and Region (American Iris Society) 4, in the western NC mountains