10 Steps

to Hybridizing Irises

Ted Howse of Iris Howse and Gardens from Bonita, California, demonstrated hybridizing irises at our recent meeting.

STEP 1 - Choose your pod parent and your pollen parent based on features you want to see in your seedling such as flower form, height, plant vigor, color, beards, ruffles, and rebloom.

STEP 2 - When both irises are in bloom, preferably as soon as the pod parent flower opens so that the bees don’t have a chance to pollinate the flower, gather pollen carefully from the pollen parent flower using a cotton swab, paint brush, pencil or knife tip.

STEP 3 - Place pollen carefully on lip of style arm of the pod parent.

STEP 4 - Take a black permanent marker and mark the pod parent stem with the name of the pollen parent.

STEP 5 - In 2-4 days the flower will wilt, if it was successfully pollinated. After a couple of weeks the seed pod will begin to swell. Once the seed pod begins to turn yellow, you can cut the seed pod from the flower stalk and place it in a cup. Remember to mark the seed pod or cup with the names of the pod parent as well as the pollen parent.

STEP 6 - When the seed pod is dried, the pod will split open and release the seeds.

STEP 7 - Take the seeds, wrap them in a napkin. Mark the names of the seeds’ pollen and pod parents on the napkin and store until December.

STEP 8 - In December, plant 5 seeds per pot in composted soil. Water pots well and do not let them dry out once they have been watered. Remember to mark the pots with the cross you have made.

STEP 9 - In 3-4 months, the seedlings will be ready to transplant into your garden.

STEP 10 - Watch for the first blooms and select the most vigorous and beautiful. Let the best continue to grow for 2 years.

Ted Howse seedling

Photo of tall bearded iris 'Royal Quackers' growing in Jim and Edith Schade garden in Ramona, CA.