growing iris from seed

Lincoln, NH(Zone 4a)

I am going to try to germinate iris seed for the first time when the pods are ready this season. Any words of wisdom for me?

Thumbnail by murkov2 Thumbnail by murkov2 Thumbnail by murkov2 Thumbnail by murkov2 Thumbnail by murkov2
Calgary, Canada

Have you done this before?
I have not germinated iris seeds.
I think that you should check the Deno database and the Clothier database.
They almost seem to contradict each other?

Deno suggests they germinate at 40F so I am thinking they would be good for winter sowing. But do'nt take my word---see what you learn from the data bases.

Lincoln, NH(Zone 4a)

No, I have never done this before, I'm totally a beginner who has been trying to learn how the best way possible. I'm retired and have a lot of time.

Edinboro, PA(Zone 5a)

I[m in zone 5B and collect iris seeds, dry them over the winter inside and then put them out in the Spring......just dig a hole and put the whole pod in......that gives about 4-6 seeds in each hole........I haven't had any failures yet........I do the same with glad seeds, daylilly seeds, lilly seeds etc.........

I am also trying hosta seeds around the trees this year......I didn't even dry them, just pulled them off the hosta, dug holes with a screwdriver around the tree and put about 3-5 seed in each hole.......I'll know next spring if it worked.....

That is what I love about gardening, just experiment, try it....if it works great....if it doesn't save enough seeds to try something else........I guess I'd say, don't be timid or afraid to plant seeds and fail........I guess that is how you learn.

by the way, those iris photos are beautiful......if you have leftover seeds you can always give them away or sell them........let me know how everything works.

Calgary, Canada

Sometimes Nature is the best teacher for gardeners.
Thanks for telling us how you seed these.

Lincoln, NH(Zone 4a)

Thank you Kantzklan for sharing your experience I will try your method and see what happens. I have some lily pods and hosta seeds to try also. I'm in zone 4a.

My pictures come from a Sony point and shoot camera without using the flash. So much easier to use than my Nikon.

Edinboro, PA(Zone 5a)

Well, let me know if you want to get rid of any of those iris seeds!

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Murkov: There's a lot of good information on growing iris seeds on this forum entitiled "Starting Seeds Part 4". Actually, part 1,2,3 has lots of info.

Look for the entries that "Blomma" wrote. She has wonderful success growing Iris from seed.

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

I have successfully grown irises from seeds from my own crosses. I have 187 cultivars to cross with. All started back in 2009 when I discovered for the first time pods on my iris plants, a gift from bees. If bees can do it, I figured so can I.

Store seeds in the fridge until you are ready. I start my seeds 3 weeks prior to winter weather---between October and November in my zone since I have many cultivars. However, they can be started anytime you can provide cold or freezing temperature, including using the fridge. Begin the process by soaking the seeds over night in a container filled with hand hot water. Allow to cool. The seeds need to remain in cold water for at least 3 weeks. Change the water out daily using a strainer to catch the seeds (to prevent losses). No nicking is necessary. This soaking and rinsing treatment is to remove the seed germination inhibitor present in the seed or seed coat. Outdoors, the fall rains and melting snow in winter do the same thing over a 3 to 4 month period.

If you have only a few cultivars the method below is a quicker way to remove the inhibiting factor. It cuts the soaking time in half since each time you flush, the inhibiting factor becomes less.

Buy nylon knee highs---cheap in Walmart. Put the seeds in the knee high so that they'll end up in the foot then take the knee high and a tag and use a mideum binder paper clip to attach the tag to the open end, or tie a knot.

Remove the top from the toilet tank. Drop the knee high into an area of the tank where it won't interfere with the moving parts in the tank. Be sure to leave the open (or knotted )end outside the tank. The foot part or closed part is put in the tank. The tank top and the binder clip, or knot, will prevent the sock from sinking into the tank and get flushed.

I use plastic shoe boxes with lids---inexpensive from Walmart---to sow seeds in. Drill or burn drainage holes at the bottom. After soaking, sow the seeds in pre-moistened potting soil 1/2" deep. I cover the containers and leave them out all winter long on North side of my house. An unheated shed or garage works also. Iris seeds require 12 weeks of less than 40 degrees temperature that fluctuate to break dormancy. They will sprout during spring when temperature reaches 55 to 70 degrees.

If you live in a climate without cold winters, the fridge can be used. It will just take a bit longer to break dormancy.

Iris seeds can be stored in ziplock bags and placed in the crisper in the fridge. They will remain viable for years.

1] Containers full of seeds in November.
2] Sprouted in April after brought in to room temp.
3] Iris seedlings planted out in May 30, 2012
4] Seedling bloomed this season (2013) at 14 months.
5] Here is one of my keepers with contrasting colors.

It is addictive.

This message was edited Aug 16, 2013 6:01 PM

Thumbnail by blomma Thumbnail by blomma Thumbnail by blomma Thumbnail by blomma Thumbnail by blomma
Kiowa, CO(Zone 5b)

Sooooo pretty (your newbies)!!! I let several go to seed this summer so I will be trying this method also...

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Hi Blomma,
I was hoping you would find this post and share your knowledge and experience.

Good luck Kathy!

Lincoln, NH(Zone 4a)

Blomma, Thank you so much for the info. I plan to try your method for my some of my seeds. I have too many for the toilet method.

Kantsklan< I would be happy to share some seeds. Some of the pods have some yellow on them but have not yet turned brown. They started mid June so should be any day now. I could send you some if I had your address.

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

You are welcome. I can't use the toilet method either for the same reason you mentioned. Otherwise the idea would be great and cut the soaking time in half.

Wait to pick the pods when light tan color and start at the top to split. Mine never turn brown. If picked too early, they may not germinate.

1] pod ready for harvest. By end of August mine are all harvested. Note that the color is not brown but a light tan.
2] The seeds change color after 1 week of drying. They also become hard.
3] Iris seedling 2 weeks old potted in 6-packs. Sprouted in April

Thumbnail by blomma Thumbnail by blomma Thumbnail by blomma
Edinboro, PA(Zone 5a)

Murkov2. I'd love some seeds. Shall I send you an envelope or what? My address is B. Kantz, 10376 Route 98, Edinboro,PA. 16412.

I only have white, dk purple and lavender , So any other colors would be appreciated.

Lincoln, NH(Zone 4a)

Kantzklan. No need to send an envelope. I'll send you some seeds when they are ready. Still in intact pods.
The seeds are crosses between reds, yellows, and orange. I'll include the parents when I send them. Hopefully
in the next week or two. I check them every day for color change.

Lincoln, NH(Zone 4a)

Blomma, Thank you for the pictures of the pod and seeds. Do I need to dry the seeds before soaking them or
can I just soak them immediately?

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

Glad to help. Yes, you need to dry them for at least 1 week to prevent rot. You will see the change in color and hardness between seeds that are haravested (which are tan) compared to dried seeds that are dark brown and hard.

Don't wait for color change or you may loose them. Check to see if there is a slit in the pod however tiny. They can go from no stil to a slit over night. When the pod begins to open, then pick it so you don't loose any seeds.

If you worr about loosing seeds, or need to be away a few days, here is a nifty idea I came across and used.

Buy some cheap kneehigh nylons. Then cut in half. The second half tie a knot. Each sock need one closed end and one open end however it is done. Thread the sock over the pod and tie it closed under the pod using a thin wire that you thread around the open end. Works like a charm. If the pod opens before you get to it, the seeds will fall and remain in the sock.

The reason you use nylons is that they dry fast should it rain and air will flow around the pod.

Thumbnail by blomma
Lincoln, NH(Zone 4a)

Blomma. Thanks again. I had already done the nylon ties as I was away for a long week-end and worried that I would lose the seeds. I knocked a pod down trying to get the nylons on. It is sitting in the house with it's stem in water. The top has turned yellow, but no slits so far.

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

Quote from kantzklan :
Murkov2. I'd love some seeds. I only have white, dk purple and lavender , So any other colors would be appreciated.

Hi, it doesn't matter what colors you have for each seed growing in the same pod will be different due to genes from generations of crossing. That is what is so facinating and keeps me crossing them every year.

This message was edited Sep 3, 2013 8:11 PM

Edinboro, PA(Zone 5a)

Are you sating my lavender iris came about because I planted white and dark purple seeds together? Fascinating....

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

LOL!! no that isn't what I meant. Most likely your seeds were a gift from bees that pollinated the flower and the lavender iris was the result

Lincoln, NH(Zone 4a)

Katzklan. Iris genetics are complicated and I couldn't even begin to explain their inheritance in a easy to
understand way here. But, since my crosses were between maroon and yellow and maroon and orange the
chances of getting a seed producing a plant having one of those colors are likely but not certain. I researched
back generations of the parents and other colors such as white and purple are in their backgrounds as well.
As Blomma said each seed in the same pod can produce a different colored plant and you will not know what you will be getting until it actually grows and blooms. That you still want some of these seeds? You
could get more lavender, purple or white. The best way to get the colors you want are to get plants of a known color. The rhizomes of each plant are always the same color as the plant they came from. I like the idea of not knowing what you going to get with the seeds. I love surprises.

Edinboro, PA(Zone 5a)

Sure,I love surprises also. Boy there is a lot of knowledge on this site.......I just pull off the seed pods and plant them......sometimes I don't even wait til they are dry.....

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

Quote from kantzklan :
.......I just pull off the seed pods and plant them......sometimes I don't even wait til they are dry.....

Sure if you want to but it won't get you anything.

Read my post above dated August 16, 2013 if you really want to get seedlings..

Lincoln, NH(Zone 4a)

Kantzklan. Have you ever had anything grow when you plant the entire seed pod? If so what did you get?

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

Here is the proof.

First photo is the pod and pollen parent. The pod parent is always written first.

Buffawn x Gay Parasol.
The other 4 are from the same pod harvested from Buffawn.

In the 3rd photo there is a likeness of the pollen parent. Buffawn is from 1945 so is historic. You can imagine the genetic makeup it has.

murkov2, I love your dark maroon irises

This message was edited Oct 6, 2013 9:36 AM

Thumbnail by blomma Thumbnail by blomma Thumbnail by blomma Thumbnail by blomma Thumbnail by blomma
Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

Below are photos of a few seedlings I will keep. They are not from the same seed pod. They are from hand pollinated seeds from the crosses given below.

1] High Esteem x Tanzanian Tangerine
2] Ziggy x Samurai Warrior
3] Ziggy x Triple Whammy
4] Electric Shock x Everything Plus
5] Megabucks x Samurai Warrior

As the seedlings bloomed, I took photos. That photo record gives me an idea what crosses I want to make next year. Since this year was their maiden bloom will see how they will perform in 2014. Some I may name and register.

Thumbnail by blomma Thumbnail by blomma Thumbnail by blomma Thumbnail by blomma Thumbnail by blomma
Lincoln, NH(Zone 4a)

Blomma, your seedlings are just beautiful. I hope they grow beautifully as well so you will want to name and register them.

Lincoln, NH(Zone 4a)

Blomma, your seedlings are just beautiful. I hope they grow beautifully as well so you will want to name and register them.

The dark maroon iris are dynamite and warrior king. They are my favorites.

Kiowa, CO(Zone 5b)

Blooma...just gorgeous!!!! When will they be available? LOL... I know it will be years, but they are beauties...hope they make it to market. You must be sooo proud! I personally like #2 & 3.

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

Thanks guys
Yes I am more than proud, awed is more like it. Will see how the blooms look in 2014.

The photo below are all seedlings that bloomed at 14 months, much to my surprise. Must have been all that rotten horse manure I dug in the fall before planting.

Thumbnail by blomma
Kiowa, CO(Zone 5b)

blomma...I'm still in awe every time I see all the colors...just simply amazing! Only 7 more months til bloom time.... Kathy

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

7 months until bloom time LOL?? That is ok. I need the time out as a breather. I have 30 new iris seedlings planted last May. Will do some more this fall. Also have 100 Daylilies planted in May and starting a few more. Or rather, restart some that didn't sprout. I never do all the seeds at once---just incase....

Sold quite a few iris seedlings this past summer, and will do likewise in 2014 to gain room. I do keep some that are unusual for my hybridization program, like those I uploaded above..

Kiowa, CO(Zone 5b)

I collected some seed from mine this summer, not sure if I'll be starting this winter tho. Am still planting perenns I grew from seed last winter...Yikes!!! LOL, still have many trays yet to get in the ground... And I'm still prepping ground for all the potted Iris from trading and dividing this season (knew I shouldn't have dug that one garden up....but have been sharing many with the neighbors, but I won't share the new ones yet.....)

Some of the seed I collected will be sent to a gal in South Africa, since plants can't be shipped, hope she gets some good ones!!! Some of the seed I collected from Iris setosa got molded, darn, 'spose they should be thrown away???

Thumbnail by warriorswisdomkathy
Edinboro, PA(Zone 5a)

Hello its me again. My iris are still blooming in PA. They are either happy or confused. I am a lazy gardener and use the adage "what does Mother Nature do." And try not to get too involved in her work.

That is why I plant entire pods, maybe let them dry maybe not......when they fall by accident from the plant they bloom!

Really it pays to be naive, if Mother Nature didn't want you to plant her seeds, why did she put them on the plant to begin with?


Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

Since we were born naked does that mean we shouldn't wear clothes? Or, when we get sick, we shouldn't go to the doctor. Etc. etc.....I guess I shouldn't hand-pollinate either. I should just leave it for the bees to do?

Why even bother planting the pods. By doing that you are "getting too involved in her work". Just let them be where they fall.

So how many iris seedlings have your pods produced by being nave? I have 150+ seedlings by helping Mother Nature do her job. She paid me back in beautiful seedlings. See them in my post above.

(Robin) Blissfield, MI(Zone 6a)

Blomma, 5] Megabucks x Samurai Warrior sure speaks to me...reminds me of the 'L' word.

Lianyungang, China


(Robin) Blissfield, MI(Zone 6a)

Xiaohuage, scroll up to about half of the thread, you'll see Blomma's Iris hybrids.

Post a Reply to this Thread

You cannot post until you , sign up and subscribe. to post.