Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Plicata Tall Bearded Irises

The most interesting patterns in irises for me has always been the plicatas. I have always had lots of success with crosses for these patterns and lots of surprises along the way. I will, however, be truthful when I say that some patterns just aren't particularly hot sellers in the commercial world. I look at other hybridizers work and I am very impressed with new accomplishments and I am anxious to add them to our retail growing fields to sell. Many times I am disappointed when they don't sell in any volume. As a hybridizer and retail grower, I have learned to understand this quandary. New advancements in iris breeding aren't always popular, but they are so important to the overall iris industry.

I guess you can say I am a hybridizer that has a few years under my belt. 2012 will mark my 32nd year to be dabbing pollen. I think after all of this time, I have settled down to where I want to go with my efforts. Several years ago I really started working with plicatas. My first crosses were made with wild color combinations. Pink plicatas on purple, brown on purple, etc. My first surprises were, these seedlings were not ugly. Many came in colors that were very pleasing to the eye and many came in color combinations that I knew already existed. At this point, I realized that someone had already tried some of these crosses.

Next I began to look at the borders on introduced varieties and my seedlings. I found out there are plicatas with borders of two colors. Some of these can be quite definite in contrast. I talked to other hybridizers and most said yes, they also had noticed the borders, but most had not really worked alot in that direction of hybridizing. So my goal was established. I wanted to try to produce plicatas with several distinct bands of different colored borders. Again, I was told by some hybridizers, it was no big deal, because they already existed. No, they don't exist like I want them to be. I want the falls on plicatas to have two or more, wide, distinct, color bands that are a knockout contrast to the basic fall color.

My thought is to cross some of these wonderful new banded bicolors that are now on the market with modern plicatas and roll the dice. My crosses are already made and being grown off. The first seedlings will bloom this year.

There has been some discussion in hybridizer circles that the position of plicata markings on the petals can be transferred in crosses. In other words, a plicata with narrow color borders very close to the edges should throw some seedlings with the same defined edges. I have a new seedling, R-125-A, that has a very defined plicata pattern around the beards only. I have made a number of crosses with named varieties of plicatas that have definite bold plicata edges and clean backgrounds around the beards. These seedlings should establish my theory as to whether the two patterns on the falls can be combined into one. In my opinion, these seedlings will open the door to many new possibilities in plicata patterns. Many plicata varieties already exist that have patterns in varying positions on the falls and standards.

Ask any knowledgeable tall bearded hybridizer where the future is headed and they will tell you that plicatas are the answer. If you are starting out in tall bearded iris hybridizing, get on the boat, you won't be sorry. God Bless you and your gardens and thanks for listening.

Jim Hedgecock

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