Growing iris from seeds

ShabwaNovember 14, 2003

I have 2 large seed pods on one of my favourite irises. Is there a trick to raising iris from seeds?

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No trick. Just put them in seed raising mix and keep them just barely moist. Best put the pot in semi shade, so it doesn't dry out.
If it is fresh seed they should start to germinate after 6 weeks, if it is old seed it is better to soak it for a few days, changing the water daily. If the seed is from bearded irises, then strstifying in the fridge will help you get quicker germination. Put the seed in some damp peat moss, or paper towell, roll up in a sandwich bag or similar, and put in the vegie crisper for a few weeks. You may even have some seed starting to germinate after this time.
Plant them out into the garden, or larger pots in early Spring, and you will get some bloom on them the following Spring.
Expect a wide variety of offspring if they are bearded irises, or louisiannas. Even if they look exactly like the parent plant, the will be genetically different, and cannot be given the name of the parent.
Cheers, Jan

    Bookmark   November 14, 2003 at 7:12PM
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Wow Jan, thanks so much for all your info! Seed pods are vibrant green at the moment, I s'pose I should wait till pod turns brown and splits or whatever. None of my bearded irises have formed seeds before so am v. keen.How intriguing that seeds won't produce identical offspring. A real learning curve here. Much appreciated.
Jill T.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2003 at 5:22AM
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Yes, wait until they turn brown and dryish, but you may pick them then, and put them in a bowl, or paper envelope, so that when they split you have all the seeds, and don't lose them on the ground.
Bearded irises are hybrids of several species plants way, way back in history (well a couple of hundred years). They have mixed genes, so when they cross, you get a new combination of the many possibilities, so the offspring are unique.
Do you know the names of your parent plant(s)? Of course that doesn't matter, but it is a good idea only to keep the very best of your seedlings and discard the 'dogs'. There are several thousand new irises registered every year, and they will mostly be far superior than any seedling that you or I might grow but it is fun to grow your own and enjoy them.
Cheers, Jan

    Bookmark   November 16, 2003 at 1:10AM
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What about species seeds.They should be true to type shouldn't they?Jody

    Bookmark   January 1, 2005 at 4:23PM
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Yes if you are growing true species irises and they have been SELF pollenated. There are a lot of iris around that are NOT true species, and many of the Iris species, if grown in close proximity will cross pollenate. For example there are irises sold in Victorian nurseries under the name of I. innominata, or I. douglassiana, which are actually hybridised mixes of several Pacific Coast iris species. Even PCI's collected in the wild are sometimes natural hybrids.
Many of the beardless irises will self pollenate easily, and can be difficult to cross pollenate unless you remove the anthers before the flower is ready to open of it's own accord.
Bearded irises seldom set seed of their own accord.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2005 at 5:31PM
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how long does it take for new iris plants to produce flowers?my plants are currently 34 days old and 6-8" high.I have about 360 of them. started so many because i was reading that they were not very likely to germinate. hoping to have flowers this year or next. thanks in advanced

    Bookmark   February 19, 2007 at 12:45PM
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It depends what type of iris you are growing, and when you planted them. I start my bearded irises in early autumn, and SOME bloom in Spring the following year. They need to form mature size rhizomes before they bloom, and that can take over 2 years. (c0mpare that with 5 to 7 years with daffodils, just to get 1 good sized bulb!).
Pacific coast iris give more bloom at 18 months, than TBI.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2007 at 3:31AM
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Thanks for your help. sparxiris . guess Ill be waiting awhile but its worth it.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2007 at 7:27AM
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I should also mention that they need a lot of room to grow. I grow around 500 bearded iris seedlings each year. I put the dwarf ones in 8" pots. The rest I plant out into beds measuring 2 sleepers X 1 sleeper. That is around 5 X 2.5 metres. I fit about 150 seedlings in one bed that size, and they end up being crowded.
Many of your seedlings will be rubbish, although you might not consider them so. They will have bad substance or flower form, flowers crowded too tightly on short stalks, or spread out to far on tall stalks. Plants that don't stand up to the weather, and rot into the ground. Muddy colours. Some will be poor growers, others will put on heaps of increase but rarely flower. Some will flower too soon and fail fron the cold. etc., etc.
Some of them will be gorgeous, I'm sure. I advise you to keep only the very best, and don't share them. That sounds mean, BUT invariably the person you share them with will share with someone else, and eventually several people will go to enormous pains to try and find out which "registered" iris it is, and will end up attaching the name of a registered iris. These irises occasionally find their way into commerce, so it just exacerbates the naming dilemma in the nursery trade.
Cheers, Jan

    Bookmark   February 21, 2007 at 11:07PM
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Would anyone have any advice for encouraging iris seeds to sprout following fall soaking, 13 weeks in the fridge and now two weeks out of the fridge at room temperature with daily warm water baths??? I have two SDB crosses that are refusing to germinate. The rest of the 24 lots of seed are sprouting nicely with a few more every few days. These are bee pods from SDBs Windrose and another that escapes me right at the moment. Any advice on what to try next would be appreciated.
BJ in SW MB, Canadian Prairies, Zone 2b (where we have been dumped on with snow yet again)

    Bookmark   March 1, 2007 at 11:48AM
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G'day Jan,

Have you ever registered any of the seedlings you have produced?

What are you hybridizing aims?


    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 11:26PM
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what is the best temp for germonating bearded iris form seed


    Bookmark   September 8, 2007 at 10:18PM
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Hi Mark - No I haven't registered anything yet. I am fussy and have taken to heart the advice that you should not register anything that is not better than those already available on the market.
I do have some that I am watching and will most likely put in the Victorian trial garden for next year. I hybridise Pacific Coast irises, and my main aim with them is too keep them alive! So I guess garden hardiness is important. Interesting patterns come up al the time, but I like blooms with wide flaring petals, and long flower stems. Multiple blooms per stem is not so important as number of stems per plant, which means a strong growing plant that increases quickly into a clump.
I am also interested in Intermediate bearded irises, and it can be difficult getting good crosses between dwarf irises and talls, because of the seasonal difference. I don't have any specific aims here - just interesting colours and patterns, with good form and able to put on a nice show in the garden for a good length of time.

Stuart - bearded iris seeds need a period of chill. I soak mine March, for 3 to 5 days, and wrap in moist paper towell, then in aluminium foil. I place the packs in a plastic bag and keep them in the vegie crisper for 8 weeks or so, then plant each cross in a pot of seed raising mix, and place them in the shadehouse. The start to appear in about 6 weeks. Some may even have tiny roots form in the fridge, so handle them carefully.
They can be planted out in September, but this year I think I will just let them get bigger in the pots over summer, watering them from the base, then plant them when it cools next year. I have 700 so I have to make room, and don't want to have to baby them through another big dry.
Cheers, Jan

    Bookmark   September 14, 2007 at 11:13PM
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G'day again Jan,

Thanks for your reply.

I live on the far south coast of NSW and enjoy growing and hybridising Hibiscus Rosa-sinensis.

About 4-5 years ago, my wife Wendy and I attended the ABC Gardening Show in Sydney and bought four tall bearded iris (from memory - Approval, Rare Treat, Night Game and Tennessee Gentleman) from Rainbow Ridge Nursery.

As we were renting at this time, we grew them in pots.

In 2004 we bought our home and were able to plant the iris in garden beds. they have performed well for us and the last two years we have ordered from Tempo Two and Rainbow Ridge and increased our collection to 38.

Last year I tried hybridising iris for the first time and was successful in getting eight seedpods from about six different crosses. These seeds were planted out in May and to date I've had about 80% germination rate.

My personal favourites are the tall bearded iris in the "broken color" patterns and this is where I will be concentrating my hybridising efforts.

I'm also planning on attending the ISA - NSW Region 2007 show in October.

Can you guess I've been bitten by the iris bug? ;-)


    Bookmark   September 16, 2007 at 9:50PM
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Hi Mark,

you certainly do have the bug, or iris virus as it is known. Have you joined the NSW iris society? It is well worth it, for newsletters and the annual Iris Society of Australia magazine.

I am not overly fond of the broken colour irises although i grow a few, and have some seedlings coming on from Glint (SDB) X Gnus Flash.
If you are wanting to add to your collection for the cost of postage, i can send you some small rhizomes of named varieties when I dig and divide over the summer.
I dig a large number of rhizomes each year to donate to the Vic iris society show stall at the main show in October, as i am an active Committee member. Comtact me privately by clicking on "My Page" above, for my e-mail addy.
All the best with the upcoming season!

Cheers, jan

    Bookmark   September 18, 2007 at 8:55PM
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Hi Jan,
I'll probably join the NSW Iris Society when I attend the annual show in mid Oct. It will be interesting to talk to people face to face regarding growing, showing and hybridising.
I do like a number of iris besides the broken colour varieties. Tennessee Gentleman is blooming now and I'm looking forward to seeing blooms of Rare Treat, Splashacata, Special Friend, Bewilderbeast, Total Chaos, Brown Lasso and Tiger Honey soon.
Thank you for your most generous offer of rhizomes. IÂll email you for a list of what you will have available.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2007 at 4:33AM
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hi dose any body know how to regester an iris?

    Bookmark   October 12, 2007 at 4:47AM
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Sadly Stuart, anyone can breed an iris and anyone can register one, even if it should have been composted as a seedling. There are no restrictions. Fortunately there is some control, in that you have to introduce an iris to commerce or the registered name lapses.
I have been breeding irises for 10 years now. I grow over 1000 seedlings a year, and have not registered one as yet. People like Barry Blyth at Tempo Two grow 10's of thousands of seedlings every year and register about 30. You need to think more than twice about registering and introducing a seedling that has not been properly evaluated.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2007 at 5:24PM
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I harvested the first bearded iris seeds ever grown in our garden. They were from a tall white bearded one. No idea what the seedlings would turn out to be since I have no way of knowing what they crossed with. Any ideas? I too love these tall bearded irises and am hoping to trade for other colors in the coming months.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 6:34PM
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Hi! I love your newly discovered Iris forum! I have just purchased some Japanese Iris seeds as I thought they would suit our climate in Mullumbimby (very wet summers and quite cold -ie occaissional frost - winters) better than the Dutch or Bearded types. Can anyone give me some tips about germinating seeds in Australia - most I've read are U.S. sites where they suggest putting out after "first thaw" - not really applicable here! I actually prefer the simplicity of the Dutch Iris - so if anyone can assure me that they will grow in our wet summers, I would be happy to give them a go! Also would appreciate name/link to reputable supplier of either type as I wish to do a massed planting.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 3:54PM
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wonderring if sum one could help me with soil types to plant my iris in as they are in foam boxs atm after moveing house.and do i need to cut leaves in half and cut roots in half before planting.

many thanks


    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 6:22PM
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I found some Iris growing in the woods next to me. I transliterated them last spring. They bloomed this spring. They have seed pods on them. I am going to try to grow them from seed. I have some store bought too. They are about 30 feet from the wild ones. A pond separates them. Will I have any luck going the wild ones. The flower is small but beautiful. I have know Idea what type the store bought are. I got them at $2.5 a pot.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 2:05PM
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Susan Levy

hI so I have three flag iris seeds. I saw it takes two years to bloom. I have never grown from a seed alway a tubor bulb.. Should I soak t hem? Should i keep the pot inside . Help please

    Bookmark   January 1, 2015 at 12:50PM
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bragu_DSM 5

I like to soak them, and pop them in a little bit of potting MIX [not potting soil] and put them in a baggie in the crisper until spring.

Of course you could do the size of a walnut thing as described in the link below, and pop them in the corner of a sandwich bag.


Here is a link that might be useful: here is a link that might shed some light

    Bookmark   January 1, 2015 at 1:06PM
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