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Step 1 - Making the cross

Cross breeding with your irises is easy and fun! This section aims to provide you with the information you need to get started.

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Choose your parents

Firstly, select two irises that you will use as “parents." Some irises are suitable for providing the pollen, some are not, so you will need to check the parts of the irises you want to use first.


It is essential that one of the irises you want to use has pollen. Pollen is located on the anther of the flower. It is creamy yellow/white in colour and looks like a powder. Some anthers do not contain visible pollen and will just look waxy. These are not suitable pollen parents. Fluffy pollen must be visible on the anther of the pollen parent. All flowers will contain both “male” parts (anther) and female/pod parent parts (stigmatic lip).

​Finding pollen

In this case the anther has visible pollen so it will be a suitable pollen parent. You will need to remove the anthers from the parent flower so that the pollen can be applied to the stigmatic lip of the pod parent. To remove the anther, remove petals and carefully grasp the base of the anther and break it off. An alternative method is to reach in to the flower using flat head tweezers, grasp the base of the anther and remove it this way, without removing the petals.

The plant you have taken the anther containing pollen from is known as the "pollen parent" of resulting seedlings.

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Applying the pollen

Apply pollen to the stigmatic lip of the other flower you want to use in the cross. This will become what is known as the "pod parent" as it will set a seed pod. 

Close and repeat

Gently press the stigmatic lip closed. Repeat the process until pollen has been applied to all 3 stigmatic lips. 

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It's a good idea to remove the falls and standards on the flower you have placed pollen on, to reduce the chances of an insect ruining your iris breeding plans.  

Record keeping

You should keep a record of the cross. Usually this would involve marking the flower of the pod parent with a tag and making a note of the pollen parent. Using a waterproof label when you make the cross means you have a label that can stay with the plant, pod and seedlings. 

When recording a cross, the pod parent is listed first. For example, if the flower with pollen applied to stigmatic lips is Haunted Heart (pod parent as it will develop a seed pod) and the pollen has come from Eye for Style (pollen parent). "Haunted Heart X Eye for Style"   

The resultant seedling might be used as a pollen (or pod) parent. If we use the pollen from one the resultant seedlings on Sherbet Bomb, this would be written as  Sherbet Bomb X seedling number (Haunted Heart x Eye For Style). Note the capital X for the the current cross and the lower case x for the grandparent cross.

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