How to grow iris from seed?

natalie4b(7b GA)February 19, 2009

I have received some iris seeds in the exchange forum, and would like to know how to grow them.

Can I just plant them directly outside, or I need to start them indoors?

Thank you for your advice.

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eroctuse2(z5 SE Michigan)

Do you know if they're been chilled or soaked yet? They need to be chilled either outside or in a fridge and the germination inhibitors either need to be washed off by rain/snow or soaked indoors.

I've had best results so far by wrapping them in wet paper towels and leaving them in a plastic bag in the fridge for the winter. If started at the right time of year (around the first of the year for me) they'll start sprouting just in time to be planted outdoors.

Now that I realize you're in zone 8 you may be able to start them outdoors, but I don't really know. If you could find the member wmoores (here on the forum) he could tell you more than you knew you needed to know. :) I believe he's in a similar climate in Mississippi.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 12:44AM
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marvine(z7/8 GA)

I'm in West Central Georgia (Warm Springs) and I usually put them in the fridge about October and then plant them in pots in March, and they start to sprout in April. Some of my friends just put them in the ground in the Fall, either way works here. At this late date, I think you will need to chill them in the fridge for a couple of months and then plant them.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 7:31AM
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natalie4b(7b GA)

I have no idea if they were pre-chilled or soaked.
Wouldn't they grow mold if kept in a wet paper towel and plastic bag in a fridge? Will they sprout in there, or I need to plant them in soil for sprouting?
Thank you both for your advise. I will locate wmoores as you suggested, and ask him as well.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 10:52AM
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eroctuse2(z5 SE Michigan)

They can grow mold that way, but I've yet to hear any reason that it harms them. I've only been trying it this way for 2 years now, but I did try the pot method before and I had terrible germination (but I hadn't buried the pot).

With the fridge method, I had the seed out of the fridge just over a day and many had already shown tiny emerging growths, so I potted them up and they grew like weeds. Several were getting a little fuzzy/moldy and they weren't affected at all. But what I've only begun to try isn't the only way.

I recently received an article from a member here (Mike_G_) and fellow hybridizer and he can get bloom from a seed in one year (and some within the season)! He starts his seeds in one gallon pots each fall, burying them until an inch of the rim is above ground. Then he transplants each sprout to its own 4 inch pot (once it's 1"-1.5" tall). He then waters with a liquid fertilizer every two weeks at a rate of 2 Tbsp/gallon of water.

There are countless ways to get them to grow and I hope more people will share their experiences.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 3:16PM
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natalie4b(7b GA)

I look forward to growing it from seed. Thank you all for your advise!

    Bookmark   February 24, 2009 at 6:30PM
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I winter sow my iris seed. It may take 18 months to germinate, but they require practically no care. You can visit the winter sowing forum FAQs here on garden web for details.


    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 7:58PM
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berrytea4me(Z5 CO)

If you want to try growing them indoors to get a jump on the season try following the directions from the article found at the Canadian Iris Society website.

This is my first year trying it. It didnt' have all the directions as detailed as I needed, but I got my first green leaves sprouting today.

Most of my seeds still have not germinated though I soaked them for 2+ weeks with daily rinsing and then put them in the fridge from mid-Sept to Jan 1.

I had some germinate in late Jan and then rot after planting. I think because I had them in too warm a place after planting. The ones that finally sprouted are in a very cool room (60 deg or less).

Some people find it takes >1 yr of refrigeration for some seeds to germinate. Each seed takes a different amount of time. Yes, some will germinate in the fridge. They seem to prefer around 55 deg after having been chilled for several months in the fridge.

They have to be damp while in the fridge or the stratification doesn't work. That is why the damp paper. And yes, you need to watch for molds and change the soaking solution/paper as needed.

I use 10% hydrogen peroxide:distilled water. Water alone can inhibit germination of other seed types plus the peroxide adds aeration for the seeds.

Here is a link that might be useful: CA Iris Society article

    Bookmark   March 7, 2009 at 6:51PM
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natalie4b(7b GA)

Great information! Thank you Kathy and Berrytea4me.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2009 at 6:57PM
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I just found some dutch iris seeds as I was cleaning my flower beds for the new growing season. I understand that most in a warmer zone have to refrigerate the seeds. Do I still need to with them being out in the snow all winter?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 10:17PM
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A question,i have not tryed before and wanted to this year,when you are talking about the seeds are u talking about the pod or the little seeds inside it?

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 10:39PM
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