Monday, July 28, 2014

Creating New Irises Can Be Frustrating! Don't Give up!!

by Betty Wilkerson

Twenty four registered irises have 'Immortality' in their lineages. Most of these indicate that 'Immortality' is the pod parent.  This is because its anthers are rarely able to release pollen.  My personal experience is that crosses with 'Immortality' as the pod parent are mainly undesirable.  In other words, these often wind up on the compost heaps. It takes a lot of seedlings to get a good one.  

Dr. Zurbrigg, the hybridizer of 'Immortality', was quite helpful to other hybridizers.  He wrote articles in 'The Recorder' and was good about answering questions.  He and I were on a rebloom robin a few years before his death, and he addressed 'Immortality's' pollen problem.  Most people find that the anthers look dried up and useless and most seasons the pollen is useless. 

Dr. Zurbrigg pointed out that some years the anthers make the pollen but simply do not release it. If you wait until the anther is mature, you can put it on something like a paper plate and press the blade of a kitchen knife on the anther.  As you pull it across, a few grains of pollen will release.  During the time I was using 'Imnmortality,' it happened only twice.  It is well worth the effort, since the children produced from these crosses seem superior to the reverse!  

'Immortality' (L. Zurrbrig 1982) 
'Immortality' makes a beautiful companion plant when planted with colorful blooms.  Like most rebloomers, it needs to be moved every couple of years to rebloom well.  The clump above was planted during the summer of 2004 and the picture was taken the following summer.  

'Bridge in Time' (Wilkerson 1995)
During my third year of making rebloom crosses, I was able to strip some 'Immortality' anthers and obtain good pollen.  Both 'Bridge in Time' and 'Returning Chameleon' were introduced from this process. I made over a dozen crosses using 'Immortality' as the pod parent. 'Corn Harvest' and 'Champagne Elegance' as parents each produced several rebloomers, but all found themselves on the compost pile.

'Bridge In Time' (Wilkerson 1995)
During the spring of 2013, I took two of my granddaughters to what turned out to be the last SOKY show. They enjoyed touring the display garden.  They used my digital camera to took many clump shots in the garden.  This is their picture of 'Bridge in Time.'  It is much taller than 'Immortality' and has had 13 buds.



'Returning Chameleon' (Wilkerson 1995) 
Although I considered it to be less attractive than 'Bridge in Time,' 'Returning Chameleon' turned out to be the most dependable rebloomer.  Even if it's left in the same spot for years, it will rebloom well if fertilized and watered..  The ruffling is less obvious when blooming in the heat of summer, but it does rebloom.



'Returning Chameleon' (Wilkerson 1995)
Fall blooms often open in cooler weather and their features, like ruffles, are more distinct.  'Returning Chameleon' has become a favorite through the years.  One Halloween, I was taking pictures of 'Returning Chameleon' when Jack jumped right in!  He's a stinker, but really good contrast for 'RC. 

In closing, 'Immortality' is thirty two years old and most would say it's too old.to use in breeding. In an area where only a few rebloomers perform, it is still one of the most dependable.  My goal is dependable rebloom in zone 6b. Would I use it again?  Yes. Under the right conditions, and if I could get pollen.  

Feel free to post questions.  

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...