You are probably used to planting iris from rhizomes, but it’s also possible to grow the popular flowers from seed pods. Iris seed propagation takes a little longer, but it’s an effective, inexpensive way to get more iris flowers in your garden. If you are interested in picking and planting iris seeds, keep reading. We’ll give you tips on how to plant iris seeds in your garden.
Iris Seed Propagation
Can iris be grown from seed? Anyone accustomed to planting iris rhizomes may be surprised to hear that iris can be propagated from seed just as easily. It takes a little longer to get blooms, however, and they don’t necessarily look like the mother plant.
When you grow an iris (or any other plant) from its root structure, you are cloning the parent plant. This type of non-sexual propagation will produce an exact duplicate of the iris from which you cut a piece of rhizome.
With iris seed propagation, it takes two plants to make the new one. Pollen from one plant fertilizes a female flower from another. The resulting iris seed pods can produce plants with flowers that look like either parent or any combination of the two.
Harvesting Seeds from Iris
If you’ve decided that iris seed propagation is the way to go, you’ll need to start picking and planting iris seeds. The first step is harvesting seeds from iris plants.
Watch your garden plants as they bloom. If the flowers have been pollinated, they will produce seed pods. The pods start out small and green but expand quickly during summer months. When the pods are dry and brown, they split open and the seeds are probably ripe.
Harvesting seeds from iris plants isn’t difficult, but the trick is not to lose the hard, brown seeds. Hold a paper bag under the stem, then snip off the iris seed pods one by one, so that they drop into the bag. You can also gather any seeds that have fallen to the ground.
How to Plant Iris Seeds
Remove the seeds from your harvested seed pods and store them in a cool, dark place until you are ready to plant them. Picking and planting iris seeds can be done a few months apart, but it is also possible to store the seeds for years if you prefer.
Plant the seeds in autumn after the summer heat has cooled. In late October or early November, bring out the seeds. Select a bed with well-drained soil in full sun.
Cultivate the soil and remove all weeds in the bed where you will plant the irises. Press each seed about ¾ inch (2 cm.) deep and a few inches (6 –12 cm.) apart. Mark the area well and watch for the baby irises to grow in spring.