... growing and hybridizing all kinds of plants in zone 6b Maryland since the 1980's.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sweet Scented Irises

Even if this one weren't so eye-catching, I'd probably still always keep it around. It has a great strong sweet smell that it probably got from its mama (Iris pallida 'Kupari'). It got the plicata color pattern from its papa (the Miniature Tall Bearded 'Rosemary's Dream'). Ive used this seedling as a parent quite a bit and thankfully, many times the sweet scent carries down through the generations.

Here are two of its sweet scented offspring:


  1. Tom, they are beautiful! I always thought when you crossed dwarf/miniature bearded Iris with TBI you got intermediate bearded iris and they were generally sterile. I can't wait for my seedlings to flower next season... actually... if I get the wood cut up I need to this afternoon I might plant my seedlings out in the garden to hurry them up a bit.

  2. Maybe this is only true when not doing interspecific crosses... yours look almost Aril-bred. Tom, have you seen this website: http://wiki.irises.org/bin/view/Main/WebHome ? You probably have but just in case you haven't I find it to almost as good for iris as HMF is for roses.

  3. Thanks Simon!
    In answer to your question... you're probably thinking of the typical cross between the Standard Dwarf Bearded class of iris (2N=40, amphidiploids with 8-8-12-12) and the Tall Bearded class (2N=48, tetraploids 12-12-12-12). These crosses give Intermediate Beardeds with 44 chromosomes (8-12-12-12) which because of the chromosome imbalance tend to be fairly [but not usually completely] sterile.
    The Miniature Tall Bearded class was historically primarily founded with 24 chromosome diploids which would match 24 chromosome species like pallida perfectly (the combination that gave the first iris above). More recent MTB introductions have included dainty tetraploids, often having a lot of Iris aphylla (2n=48) in their ancestry.
    Those second and third pictures have another species hybrid as their father. It's a cross between Iris pallida 'Kupari' and the extremely dwarf species Iris suaveolens var. rubromarginata. Fortunately, this neat little species also has 24 chromosomes and is completely interfertile with the other 24 chromosome species. So all three of these seedlings above are easy breeders.
    Lately, I've been playing around with mixed ploidy crosses - in particular tetraploid Tall Bearded pollinated by 24 chromosome diploids. For many years I'd tried the crosses the other way around and had nothing to show for all my effort. [That was how I'd read was THE WAY to do it] Once I switched to tetraploid pod parent and diploid pollen I actually started getting at least a few seedlings. Two of the three seedlings I've gotten so far from this kind of cross are gearing up to bloom very soon. I'll be sure to post pictures for you here, but in addition to that link you posted which is a really great one, there are three Iris forums that you might want to check out. They seem to be losing activity lately but there's a wealth of old information in the archives.
    So... do you have specific goals in mind for your seedlings (rebloom? fragrance? unusual color patterns?) I'll be looking forward to seeing what you get next season. That's when? November-ish???
    Thanks for your interest! Tom

  4. Realized I never gave you the link for those forums, sorry bout that!

    It's: http://www.hort.net/lists/

    You'll find the archives for Iris-Photos, Iris-Species and Iris-Talk.

  5. Um.. no clear goals yet as I've only tried to pollinate them once to learn how. I've stuck to normal TBI x TBI though I'm planning on heading down the dwarf line. This is because the winds around here are far to strong right when the iris are flowering and it is difficult to actually enjoy the flowers as they get flattened. Even the intermediate bearded iris seem unable to withstand the wind. Only the dwarf bearded iris seem unaffected. I've not tried the dwarf ones as pod parents yet. I've not started to explore ploidy of iris yet as I have done in roses... they are an emerging interest here. I'm actually a member of the hort.net forum on the advice of Colleen Modra but I haven't been there for a while. Colleen's iris, 'Trudy Bee' (http://wiki.irises.org/bin/view/TbPthruT/TbTrudyBee) was the pod parent for my first breeding attempt and it was matched to 'Witches Sabbath'. It would be fun to play with these other species and maybe improve the wind-fastness of iris around here.