- Author: Kathleen Klobas
I have enjoyed the beautiful blooms of iris since I was a child but never studied them much. Sure, I know they grow from rhizomes, have strappy green leaves, and bloom mostly in the spring. I know the rhizomes need to be dug up and divided every 3 years or so, whenever the plants become too crowded. Just basic stuff. Then I joined a Facebook group for iris addicts! My eyes were opened to the truth about iris: they are truly complex and varied plants!
While observing my blooms, I noticed that there were some oval, green “pods” remaining after the flower was gone. Some research reveals that these are formed when the bloom is pollinated! Iris breeders will use the seeds within the pods to grow new iris.
Here's what I have learned about them. To harvest the seed pods, don't deadhead the flower, leave them on the stems until they turn brown and start to split. Collect the seeds and save them in a cool dry place. In the fall, plant in an area of your garden in amended soil about ½ to ¾ inches deep and a few inches apart. Mark the spot and leave it to grow. Maybe 1/2 the seeds will sprout. They resemble blades of grass at first but later will develop the longer, wider iris leaves. Then they can be carefully transplanted and will continue to grow. You may not get blooms the first year, but be patient. The blooms, when they come, will probably not resemble the parent iris, but will be unique and likely a different set of colors! And this is how iris hybridizers discover new iris. These iris will be one-of-a-kind, and you can name them!
Unfortunately, I picked my pods right away, so they won't be able to mature for seed development. But next year I will wait and maybe there will be an iris named Kathy Klobas!