Selection of bearded irises
One of the most bewitching spring-flowering herbaceous perennials is Iris Bearded (Properly Bearded). Having a rich palette of colors and shades, dividing into groups according to flowering time and height, it became not just a decoration of gardens, but a pride of many collectors. His selection has a rich history and totals tens of thousands of registered varieties and unknown to a wide range of cultivars. But, despite the variety, breeding work does not stop, perhaps because the crossing of the iris gives sometimes amazing results and is not considered difficult.
Classification of Bearded Iris
Bearded iris has a rather complex hybrid origin. Its ancestors are different natural species: German iris, dwarf iris, Trojan iris, Cypriot iris, pale iris, etc. That is why it has so many forms and varieties. And precisely for this reason, he still does not have a single, globally recognized classification.
The simplest classification of the bearded iris is the division by height. The group of undersized plants includes only a height of up to 40 cm. The group of medium-sized plants includes up to 70 cm. All varieties above 70 cm are considered tall.
In this case, dwarf irises are divided into miniature, with a flower stalk up to 20 cm and one to three flowers on it, and standard ones with a flower stalk from 21 to 40 cm and two to four flowers.
Medium-sized bearded irises are divided into 4 flower (IB - intermediate bearded), those that have more than 6 flowers on one peduncle (BB - boarder bearded), and the so-called miniature (MTB - miniature tall bearded).
The tall group is not divided into subgroups.
According to the classification adopted by the Russian Iris Society (ROI), Bearded irises (Properly Bearded) are divided into:
- High Bearded (TV - Tall Bearded);
- Standard Medium Bearded (SMB - Standard Median Bearder);
- Small-flowered Medium Bearded (SFMB - Small-Flowered Median Bearder);
- Binder Medium Bearded (IMB - Intermediate Median Bearder);
- Standard Dwarf Bearded (SDB - Standard Dwarf Bearder);
- Miniature Dwarf Bearded (MDB - Miniature dwarf Bearder);
- Non-aryl-like Arylberds ((-) AB - Non-Aril - like Arilbreds);
- Aryls and Aryl-like Arylberds (AR & (+) AB (Arils and Aril-like Arilbreds)
By flowering time, bearded irises are:
- very early (V - very early)
- early (E - early),
- medium early (ME - medium -early),
- medium late (ML - medium-late),
- late (L - late),
- very late (VL - very late).
There are varieties with repeated (two or more) flowering - remontant (Re - Rebloomers), but in the majority of our climatic zones, unfortunately, they do not manifest remontance in the vast majority of cases, therefore, there is practically no data on them in Russian.
Irises are also divided by the size of the flower:
- with small flowers
- with medium
- with large
- with very large.
There is a classification for color foul and standards:
- one-colored irises (self) - differ in the same coloring of all perianth lobes;
- two-tone (bitone) - have two shades of the same color, in one of which the upper lobes are painted, in the other - the lower ones;
- two-color (bicolor) - carry two different colors.
Among the latter, the following groups are distinguished:
- amena (amoena) - with white upper petals;
- variegate (variegate) - with yellow upper and dark red lower;
- plikata (plicata) - with anthocyanin (from pink-lilac to dark violet) patterns along the light surface of perianth lobes;
- luminata (luminata) - with an unpainted part around the beard on the anthocyanin background of the lobes;
- plicate-luminate or fancy-plicate (plicata + luminata) - a combination of indicators of plicate and luminate;
- glaciate (glaciate) - pastel shades with no anthocyanin elements;
- iridescent (blend) - with smooth transitions from one color to another;
- reverse - standards are darker than a foul;
- with a “broken” color (brokencolours) - interspersed with a contrasting color on a plain background.
Selection of Bearded Iris
Thanks to the people's love for this wonderful perennial, more than a hundred of its new varieties are born every year. The most saturated group, and the most popular, are the High Bearded Irises. The variety of shapes of their flowers, the combination of colors is simply amazing. But, despite this, breeders continue to work, surprising the world with new wonderful achievements.
How to develop a new variety?
To bring out a new variety of bearded iris under the force of even a novice amateur gardener. This requires a little patience, some knowledge and determination.
The first thing to start work on selection is to study the structure of the flower.
Perianth segments - the so-called "petals" of the iris flower. Among them, external lobes are distinguished - fouls (lower petals) and internal ones - standards (upper petals). A beard is a strip of saturated colored bristles that runs along the top of the foul. Pestle - has three lobes and an epigastric crest. Stamens - hidden under standards and pestle.
If everything is clear with the structure of the flower, you can start crossing.
Step 1 - Preparation
First of all, you need to decide: what will you cross. Label the mother plant (which will be pollinated) and the father plant (from which pollen will be taken). (It is better to place a label with a label under the ovary so that it does not get lost after the flower withers.)
Unfortunately, and it may be fortunately, it is almost impossible to predict the result in advance, but in any case, for breeding it is necessary to take the best specimens with clearly expressed signs of interest.
In general, the breeder should be interested in the shape of the flower, its color, the number of buds, the timing and duration of flowering, the nature of branching, and the strength of the variety's overgrowth. An amateur is usually quite interested in the very fact of crossing, and therefore you can start with a simple one - try to get a variety of foul colors and standards, or mix high and dwarf hybrids in order to obtain a transitional or binder medium-sized form.
If breeding work is planned to continue, it is best to immediately start a separate notebook and record the list of crosses and seedlings selected for further experiments, assigning them numbers and letter designations that take into account the year of crossing, pair number, seedling number.
Step 2 - pollination
In the morning, when the plants have already dried up, or in the evening, be sure to carefully cut off the boot with scissors from the father's iris in dry, calm weather. Using a brush, carefully transfer the pollen to the open stigma of the mother flower.
A few important points:
The mother flower is ready for pollination already at the end of the first day of flowering, when the stigma bends (opens) from it. First, anthers ripen in the opened flower, and only then, after 16, or even 20 hours, pollen.
During a too hot period of the day, the stigma of the pestle dries and cannot take pollen. Therefore, it is recommended to conduct pollination at the beginning or at the end of the day, but taking into account the fact that in the next two hours there will be no rain.
The pollen collected on the first day of flowering is considered the most viable.
If the perianth lobes of the iris are corrugated, for convenient access to the stigma, you can break the standards and fouls from them.
Fouls and anthers break off and in order to protect the flower from pollination by insects.
To increase the percentage of ensuing boxes, it is better to pollinate three stigmas, rather than one.
If pollination has occurred, the box will begin to grow; if not, the flower will fade and fall off.
In the case when the mother plant for some reason is not ready for pollination or not near the father, the anther can be stored until the right moment in a glass container, at room temperature. But you can store it no more than eight days.
Step 3 - seed ripening
Next, you need to wait for the ripening boxes (about two months). They should turn yellow green. But you should not overexpose them on the plant, because if the boxes burst, the seeds will crumble. In addition, it was noticed that seeds collected from unripe bolls germinate better.
In one box there can be from one to 60 seeds, if they are tall bearded irises, and for dwarf varieties - more than 100. At first they have a smooth surface and a honey-brown hue, but when dried, they wrinkle and decrease by half
Step 4 - Sowing the Seeds
Sowing seed material can either immediately after harvest, or before winter. It is good to sow according to the scheme 10 X 10 cm, deepening the seeds to a depth equal to about three of their diameters, but not deeper than 1.5 cm.
If the number of seeds is large, it is more convenient to divide the area into four-row beds with a distance between rows of 30 cm and between seedlings of 20–25 cm. The soil for seedlings should be water- and breathable, not acidic.
Under adverse weather conditions, irises can also be grown through seedlings. In this case, the dried seeds must be laid out in labeled bags and stored until February. In February, sow them in bowls, in pre-sanitized land. At the bottom of the pots, to preserve moisture, you can put a small amount of hydrogel.
To stimulate the seeds to germinate, you need to hold them in the cold for some time. To do this, cover the container with seedlings with a film and send it to a cool place for one and a half to two months, with a temperature of about + 2 ... 5 ° C, for example, in a refrigerator. Then they put on a warm, well-lit window sill, and even better in a mini-greenhouse and wait for seedlings. When warming, seedlings are planted on the street.
In order for the seeds to germinate successfully, the soil in pots or on the bed must always be moist. Drying even for one day greatly suspends the process of seed germination. But even if all the conditions are met, seedlings will have to wait at least eight weeks, with the exception of the seeds of hybrids of plikat, which begin to awaken already in the seventh week after sowing. And the process of germination itself is extremely uneven - so you need to be patient.
Step 5 - Flowering
The last stage is flowering. But he will have to wait. Fully developing plants begin to bloom only in the second or third year.
But even when the plants bloom - this is not an indicator. It is necessary to give irises at least two years of flowering, since only in the second or third year of flowering it will be possible to say: is the result something interesting or not.
Step 6 - Registration
If the cultivar obtained is unique, it can be registered! This must be done through the Russian Society of Iris (ROI). But when filling out the application, you will have to fill out a special form in which to note various aspects regarding the new variety, therefore it is better to print the application form in advance, even before flowering and fill it out gradually, and not from memory.
Festivals, international competitions and exhibitions of the bearded iris are held annually in different countries. The oldest of these is a competition held in Florence, called the Concorso Internazionale dell’Iris, which dates back to 1957.
Each season, Australia, America and the United Kingdom award the most interesting in its class new bearded iris variety with a special award - the Dykes Memorial Medal, which in Russian sounds like the Dykes Medal. Presentation has been going on since 1927.
Most bearded iris varieties are bred in the United States of America (the United States accounts for more than half of the registered cultivars), Russia takes second place in the activity of selection work, then Austria and France.
In the world there are more than 30,000 varieties of bearded iris, but none of them have absolutely black, bright red or pure green petals.
One of the latest achievements of breeders is the bearded irises of the so-called “space” group (SA - Space Agers). Their difference lies in the non-standard form of the beard, expressed by a peculiar outgrowth in the form of a petal - a petaloid (flounce), a spoon (spoon) or a horn (horn).