Monday, July 1, 2013

Breeding Reblooming Irises: An Eye to the Future-1

by Betty Wilkerson
Zone 6, KY
Crosses in 2013

My labor of love is to create unique reblooming irises for cold climates, but nothing is reblooming in my garden right now, so I thought I'd take you into the reblooming fantasy garden of my mind.  How can I do that?  By showing you irises I have hybridized that have reblooming genes that I intend to cross again to get reblooming irises in a wider variety of colors.  

A few years ago, Australian hybridizer Barry Blyth recommended that hybridizers take pictures of the parent flowers as they make crosses.  Such a brilliant idea that I should have thought of it myself! (insert smiley face)  So now I carry a digital camera in my hybridizing bag, along with notebook, pen and hybridizing tags. The trick is to remember to take the pictures when I make the cross!  So the photos below are my field pictures, part of the documentation of the painstaking and lenghty hybridizing process of producing better flowers for your garden.

People say they are tired of the "default" rebloom colors of yellow, white, and purple.  These are basically the result of dominant genes.  Other colors and some patterns require the use of recessive genes.  Over the past ten years, I've worked to fold in patterns and colors that did not exist in older cold climate rebloomers.  Recessive genes are required for the tangerine factor.  This is how we get pink, orange, yellow with a red beard or white with a red beard.  Certain patterns, like the Emma Cook pattern, are recessive.  Plicata is even recessive to selfs or single colored irises.  For the past ten years I've been working hard to fold these recessives into my seedlings.

This year, I'm crossing back for rebloom.  It's going to be difficult since the summer rebloom genes appear to be among the most rare!  I've crossed my reblooming irises and seedlings (irises that have not been registered or introduced) onto each other, and to a few seedlings with half rebloom genes that refuse to rebloom for me, in an attempt to achieve this goal.  

One such cross is, well, YELLOW.   Although I'm not crazy about all yellow irises, I'm fond of most of these 'Summer Radiance' children, due to their improved form and  their intense colors.  This 2013 cross will be used to get a nicely formed and vivid rebloomer.

1802-01P (Wilkerson Seedling) 

2151-01 Wilkerson Seedling

Once again, 'Summer Radiance' was outstanding, and its pollen was very fertile and it took on several things.  From the rebloom perspective, there is a lot of potential in these new seed pods!  

'Summer Radiance' clump (Wilkerson 1996)  

I have a number of seedlings I call "The Kitchen Sink Kids" because they have so many different genes in them that come from a reblooming iris numbered 1810.  ( 1605-01:9415-1Re((('Victoria Falls' x 'Vanity') x 'Immortality') x ('Latest Style' x 'Glistening Icicle'))) x ('Feedback' x 'Champagne Elegance') X 'Light Rebuff.' for those of you who must know.)   It seemed like a good idea to hit them with a bunch of rebloomers.  There were several good takes on 1810-15Re below,  the best rebloomer, and one take on 1810-01Re.  There were over twenty rebloomers, some summer and some fall,  from this cross.  Sadly, none met my requirements for introduction.  Here are two of the parents from 1810 I am using to get better form and color in rebloom.

1810-15Re (Wilkerson Seedling) 
1810-01Re (Wilkerson Seedling)  

Pollen from ‘Summer Radiance,’ a known parent of rebloomers, took on 1810-01Re.   I have several more to share with you on my next post, so stay tuned!  

I'm finding 'Renown' to be a good parent for plant qualities, but unfortunately, none of its children have rebloomed.  Pollen from seedling #2310-02 ('Decadence' X 'Renown,') ‘About Tomorrow,’ and ‘Returning Chameleon’ took on 1810-15re, which is exciting, because 1810-15-re often blooms all summer and into fall.  'About Tomorrow' is from 'Treasured' x 'Renown' and gives beautiful and diverse children.  I just can't wait to see these babies.  

2310-02 (Wilkerson Seedling) 
'About Tomorrow' (Wilkerson 2013)
'About Tomorrow' Top View (Wilkerson 2013) 
'Returning Chameleon' (Wilkerson 1995) 

Even though it was a bad year for hybridizing,  I was able to get a dozen good reblooming crosses for the future.  For the next step, I stripped blooms from the large plantings of my strongest rebloomers, 'Returning Chameleon', 'Summer Radiance,' 'Echo Location,' 'All Revved Up' and 'Star Gate' and carried them from bed to bed looking for good mates.  More about these later!
I also used a number of seedlings that are rebloomers, but haven’t met my criteria for introduction.   But hope springs eternal in the world of reblooming iris creation.  Wish me luck! 

Do you have any questions about how your lovely rebloomers are created?  Leave your questions and comments below and I will do my best to answer.

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