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Harvesting Pacific Coast Iris Seeds from our Crosses

Harvesting Pacific Coast Iris Seeds from our Crosses, Bob Sussman, 5/31/2019

Every year as soon as the first two different pacific coast irises go into bloom we begin our “crosses”. This is a process where we collect the pollen from one flowering iris and place it on the stigmatic lip of another. The is by definition a “cross”. Sometimes well also place the pollen of an iris and place it on it’s own stigmatic lip and this would be known as “selfing”. To get the greatest range of flowering and growing results in the offspring we generally do a lot more crosses than selfing.

As I mentioned we begin as soon as the flowers begin to bloom. To have offspring with an early bloom and maybe earlier than the parent is a good thing as it extends the flowering season. We also do the same at the end of the season for the same reason.

This year the first series of crosses began on 3/15, when and with ‘Canyon Banner’ (one of ours) and ‘San Ardo’ (a Ghio hybrid) went into bloom. We did a series of crosses, every few days to make sure we would get some seed capsules with a good sampling of seeds to plant in fall. Yesterday we collected our first seed capsule, shown below with approximately 50 seeds, 2-1/2 months after the cross was made. This is fairly typical.  We then stored them in paper envelope.  The seeds need more dry and clean isn’t an issue fortunately for me.

Below are the two proud parents. ‘Canyon Banner’ is the pod parent a bi-color with veining. Below that is the pollen parent ‘San Ardo’, deep violet and always an early bloomer

This is ‘Canyon Banner’ – one of our hybrids from ‘Canyon Snow’ and ‘Valley Banner’. You’ll note the plastic banding. That indicates that we have “crossed” this one – the date and pollen parent are noted on the band. This is known as the pod parent.

This is a picture of ‘San Ardo’, an early bloomer that we generally used as the pollen parent. Note there is no banding on these since that only done on the pod parent which will produce the seeds.

In fall we sow the seed flats from the seeds we’re collecting now- then more to successively bigger containers until they flower. They we’ll put them into production and have them for sale in another 2 to 3 years. 

Still we won’t see anything for another 2 to 3 years but what do we expect to see after 2 to 3 years? The results are clearly unknown but we hope to get more early bloomers. The ‘Canyon Banner’ is a bi-color with veining and the ‘San Ardo’ is a very dark purple (shown below). If we could get more bi-color flowers maybe deep purple falls with white standards and falls (the other parts) and some purple veining that would be pretty cool but we just won’t know. The way it is in what we do.



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Heuchera 'Dainty Bells'

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alum root


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