Breeding/Hybridizing Louisiana Irises

Louisiana iris leafs showing variegation

In 2000 as I prepared to row out my tetraploid Louisiana iris seedlings noticed that one of the tetraploid seedlings looked unhealthy or slightly chlorotic. Closer inspection showed that most of the larger leaves had streaks of yellow and cream. This tet seedling was planted along with its siblings in hopes that whatever was ailing it would be remedied with the fertilizer that was previously worked into the new seedling bed.

Photograph of Sign that states "Possible Iris Names Ahead"

For a good while it has been past time to pick some names for new irises. I have quite a few seedlings that have paid their dues and have been waiting patiently. I am not sure why I procrastinate in reserving names and registering irises. Perhaps it is out of a fear that an iris may yet  prove unworthy, and registration and certainly introduction permanently foists a plant on the iris world.

Sometimes I can't decide if I wait too long or not long enough. Probably some of each. It is not that I can't think of names, because I have a long list. They occur to me or I hear a phrase that strikes a chord, and I add names much faster than I develop new irises. I will never exhaust my list. Possibly I should reserve them all and sell the best on ebay. Perhaps they are already for sale there.

One of my crosses, Professor Sigmund X chimera, as well as Joe Mertzweiller's TD 87-34, show that diploid plants can result when the parent plant is a tetraploid. The book Haploids in Higher Plants answers some of the questions as to how this could happen. This can happen during the process of fertilization or in the first few cell divisions of the embryo.

No iris devotee can hope to realize the full pleasure of his delightful avocation until he has made crosses and produced seedlings of his own. There is something closely akin to parental pride in the thrill experienced when a seedling of one's own production "makes good"; yet strangely enough, for every serious hybridizer there are dozens of eager and equally serious collectors. The reason for this apparent lack of interest in hybridization is, I believe, because few iris collectors realize how ridiculously simple it is to make crosses and produce seedlings.