Hybridizing and growing new PCI from seed

One of the great pleasures of growing PCI is crossing different varieties to get new combinations. PCI have a wide range of brilliant flower colors, often with striking patterns on falls, and narrow to wide petals.

With three years as a typical generation, over a gardenerís lifetime many generations of PCI can be developed. The top breeders right now are working on about 25-40 generations of development.

Plan ahead, start with parent plants (pod and pollen parents) that are vigorous and have characteristics that you want to see carried forward: healthy and vigorous plants with good flower position, good form, and with desirable colors, petal shapes and petal patterns. Other features to work towards include increased disease resistance, early or late flowering, reblooming, and hardiness in cold or hot climates.

Tips

See articles in the Almanac from several PCI breeders who have shared their goals, genetic approaches and successes with SPCNI members.

Go to the Iris Encyclopedia on the American Iris Society website (www.irises.org) for descriptions, color photos and parentage for all registered PCI varieties. The three letter code for hybrids in this group is PCN, for Pacific Coast Native iris.

On the Iris Encyclopedia site, also check the Mitchell Award and Mitchell Medal winners. These hybrids are the top PCI selections for plant form, flower form and patterns over the past several decades.

The American Iris Society manages registrations for PCI. The two letter code for this group for registrations is CA, for Californicae, the beardless section that formally includes PCI.

Good hybridizers often begin as judges, to help them train their eyes to recognize worthy new plants. The Regional Vice President for your region of the American Iris Society (www.irises.org) can put you in touch with the regionís Judges Chairman for more information. Judgeís Training Sessions are open to all, free of charge. Itís a lifetime study, and very useful for those interested in creating new hybrids.

References

Articles on breeding appear almost every year in the SPCNI Almanac. The following are a recent sampling of the information available in back issues:

Belardi, Lois, Grisso, Ryan, Knipe, Garry, and Taniguchi, Steve. 2004. Why do you hybridize Pacific Coast iris? SPCNI Almanac, Spring 2004, pp 7-8.

Ghio, Joe. 2004. Patterns and forms, SPCNI Almanac, Spring 2004, pp 8-10, includes a page of illustrations of different signal patterns by Steven Taniguichi.

Knipe, Gary. 2000. Joe Ghio interview, SPCNI Almanac, Spring 2000, pp 10-14.

Taniguchi, Steve. 2004. Interview with Colin Rigby, SPCNI Almanac, Spring 2004, pp 11-14.

Winter, Gareth. 2008. Pacific Coast Iris breederís group notes, SPCNI Almanac, Spring 2008, pp 13-17.

Witt, Jean. 1974. Dwarfs? By all means, SPCNI Almanac, Spring 1974, pp 11-12.