Monday, February 27, 2012

Why did you do that?

Garden visitors viewing a seedling and then its two parents sometimes ask, why did you cross those two? Assuming that the hybridizer has goals, he/she should be able to answer that question. Just for fun, I'm going to post some seedlings, then discuss either (1) why I crossed the parents or (2) what plans I have for the seedlings in the future.

Flower form
The first pair are Sdlg 05I1, a plant that took "best seedling" at the Fredericksburg Area Iris Society's spring show last year, and Keith Keppel's 'Fiery Temper'. Why make the cross? Well, even though I really like 05I1, I could wish its falls were a bit broader.

'Fiery Temper' has broader falls. It's also a bicolor, which I felt would work with 05I1 being an amoena (I prefer bicolors, neglectas, variegatas and amoenas over solids), and its red-orange beard was a plus. I wanted to keep 05I1's good branching, so made it the pod parent.

As luck would have it, 2010 was a disastrous year for germination throughout the mid-Atlantic region. Less than 5% germination overall here. Of 87 seeds from two pods of 05I1 X Fiery Temper, only 3 germinated. Two of those bloomed in 2011. And one of them was 10L2:

I'll take it. But, still wanting to broaden 05I1's falls and keep its amoena appearance, I'll be trying this year to cross 05I1 with 01S2

or its sibling, O1S3

Stalk and branching
Shooting for the latest in flower form isn't everything. There are other considerations. For instance, I found that the late Sterling Innerst's 'Lynsy Alexandra'

and my Sdlg 20Q5

were very similar not only in coloration, but in height and, most importantly, in the slenderness and shape of their branching and their proportionately small blossoms. I thought the two of them might produce a colorful, slender, well-branched offspring. In fact, the cross produced several such seedlings, more than one of which will be introduced. 07U8, below, took "best seedling" at the Fredericksburg Area Iris Society's spring show a couple of years ago, and may be introduced yet this year. It sports up to 12 buds on excellent branching.

On the show bench

and in the garden . . . and a cousin, 07S9

The best-laid plans . . .
Of course, not everything works. I was hoping to get Sdlg 01J14's red beard

on Prince IgorBoth of them have 'Romantic Evening' in their backgrounds. Nine of 49 seeds germinated and were planted out in 2009. I held the pots over, and 16 more germinated in 2010. None of the 2009 seedlings is remarkable, so far, and only two of the 16 planted in 2010 have bloomed, so far, which isn't unusual. The better of the two is 10A3, which didn't get the red beard or anything else to commend it other than good branching.
So, I'll still be watching for the siblings that haven't yet bloomed. Don't we, as irisarians, know that "hope springs eternal"?

Who's your great-grandma?
Pursuing my line of 'Wabash' derivatives, I had produced Sdlg 962N1, which involved 'Champagne Elegance', 'Wabash' (a recessive amoena) and 'Best Bet'',
and, in order to keep the pure white standards and velvety falls, was looking for a crossing candidate that also had recessive amoena genes. I found it in Barry Blyth's 'Knighted',which looked a lot like 962N1 and whose ancestry included the recessive yellow amoenas of Jean Stevens of New Zealand. The cross was successful and produced Royal Pageantry
The unexpected
Red-bearded 01J14, pictured above, was also crossed with 'Wearing Rubies'.

The cross produced seven seedlings, all of which (I think) sported red beards except 072N6

whose falls are broader than they appear here -- which I have back-crossed to 'Wearing Rubies' and which surprised the heck out of me by reblooming this past fall! How about a velvety, blackish rebloomer with a red beard?

Finally, not all new cultivars are the result of careful study. Sometimes, there's just an itch to make a cross. As, for instance, what if I were to cross 063C1

with 082L13?
It remains to be seen.

--- Griff Crump


  1. I can't wait to see the bloom from the yellow cross!

  2. Griff- Thanks for a virtual walk thru a hybridizers vision. It is one thing to read about what types of crosses to make and another to actually see parents and offspring and what traits really came thru. My first seedlings should be blooming this spring. Hope I get as nice of results as you have.

    And I'm with Renee... can't wait to see what the yellow/white mirrored patterns might produce!

  3. Great article. Would be interesting to see all the iris derived from one seed pod, just to see the diversity of possibilities from one cross. jerry

  4. Great article. Would be interesting seeing every iris grown from one seed pod, just to see the diversity of one cross. jerry


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