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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Iris Cross-pollination?

Robyn, from Vero Beach Florida writes...
"If you'd be so kind, my mother is wondering if she should separate her blue and white iris' so they don't cross pollinate and all turn white. It seemed like it would be a common enough question, but I don't find the answer anywhere online."

I am far from an expert on stuff like this, so I figured I would open up the question to you, the readers of A Gardener's Notebook.

Does anyone have more information on this topic? My Google searches turned up lots of information on purposefully crossing irises, so this leads me to believe that they don't cross-pollinate too readily on their own.

Add your comments below!


Blogger Jenn said...

I am familiar with the siberian and the bearded iris, I am not sure about the other varieties:

I typically deadhead the bloom stalk and never let mine set seed. Iris tend to multiply so well from the rhizome that there is no need in my garden to add more plants by letting the seed plant itself.

Hope this is helpful.

7:53 AM  
Anonymous gardensole said...

Doug & Robyn,

I'm a bit confused by the question but I think that Robyn's mom is concerned that merely by placing the two colors next to one another, the flowers of the blue plants will become white. If so, Jenn's comment is correct.

Genetically the flowers of the the blue plants have the genes to become blue & can cannot become white no matter what flower color iris is placed right next to them. It may appear that this is happening in some cases but in reality it is the vigor of the white flowered plants that tends to over run the other color which is weaker.

It's good practice to regularly dig and divide german iris to get rid of the older rhizomes and reinvigorate the plants. It also allows the gardener to keep plants of different flower colors near each other without fear of one becoming thuggish and over running the other. Blue & white is a really nice combo in iris and it i would be worth to divide clumps biennially to keep it going.

One last word, there are some plants that can have sports that have different colors, i.e. variegated plants have green parts, but the nearness of another plant would not effect this at all. This is a natural process and sometimes results in new varieties of plants.

10:15 AM  

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