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Step 2 - Seeds to Seedlings

The next stage of hybridising is watching your seed pods develop through to planting out your iris seedlings.


A seed pod beginning to form, another hopeful but no signs yet, and a bud yet to open.

If your crosses have been successful, you will start to see seed pods developing at the base of the flower after it has finished blooming. 


Don't be discouraged if you don't achieve any seed pods from your first attempts, even the most experienced hybridisers don't get seed pods from every cross they make.

Pictured here is a likely seed pod developing (black wool), a cross made but too early to show signs (green wool) and a unopened bud. 

If you have seed pods developing, it's simplest to leave them on the plant to mature. You will see the pod start to change colour as it matures. 

If a stem gets broken off, it can be placed in the ground to mature.

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An immature seed pod


The ideal time to harvest your seeds is when the seed pod is dry and beginning to crack. If you are not able to check the pod regularly, you may like to place an organza (or similar) bag over it to ensure no seeds are lost. Bags used for wedding bonboniere (from party shops) are ideal. 

Seed pod splitting, ready to harvest

Break or cut open the seed pod. Place seeds where they have space around them to dry out, such as on a small plate. The seeds will shrivel as they dry. This is perfectly normal.


Seeds fresh from the pod


Your dried seeds can be stored until sowing. A paper envelope in a cool dry place is ideal. 

Seeds dried and ready for planting

There are many methods of sowing seeds. The simplest method is to plant them in a pot of good quality potting mix in approximately April. There is no need to plant them at any particular distance from each other, in fact, planting the seeds very close together (touching) has been found to produce excellent results. Use a new pot for each seed pod.

Place the pot somewhere where it can feel the cold, water frequently to keep the soil moist and wait... and wait.... The frequent watering breaks down the protective layer on the seed, allowing germination. 

Just when you think they've failed completely, you will (hopefully) see signs of life. Some seeds have been known to germinate a year or more after sowing, but it is more likely to take a anywhere from 1 to 4 months. Tip - as some seeds may take a year to germinate, don't re-use your potting mix. Some hybridisers like to leave the pots or spread the potting mix where the seedlings are planted out.


Young seedlings in a pot

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Plant your seedlings out into the garden in spring, so they have time to become established before the heat of summer. Remember they are only small now but will grow and multiply quickly, so give them space if you can. Keeping them weed free is critical

Seedlings ready to plant out

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