Harvesting seed pods
My irises and tulips have seeds pods that getting eaten by something. Can I cut them off low on the stem and remove them to safety? Or will this impede their maturity?
Gloucester County New Jersey
Hello and thank you for submitting your question to "Ask An Expert!"
You are an adventurous person if you are going to try to grow Tulips from seed! It is a difficult process but, as with anything in the garden, if it works out we do get a certain amount of satisfaction. Iris are somewhat easier, but remember that the seeds are usually pollinated from different iris plants and you are never quite sure what you are going to get - sure it's an Iris, but if you are going for a specific color you may not get the results you were after.
All that being said - the longer the pods stay on the plant, the better your chances are of harvesting viable seeds. The pods should not be harvested until they begin to turn brown and begin to split open. Harvesting before then might mean they are not mature and will not be able to germinate. Depending on what it is that you think may be eating them you could try tying a piece of nylon around the seed pod itself - unless it's a large animal this method will protect the pod until it has ripened to the point of producing viable seed. An old pair of nylon pantyhose is actually a great way to get the nylon you need - use the toe portion of the pantyhose and just slip it over the seed pod and tie it around the stalk.
If you are in need of further advice or have any other questions please feel free to contact us again or you can contact your local Cooperative Extension Office.
Thanks again for writing to us!
Keep on Growin!!
UD NCC Master Gardener