The Q&A Archives: Tissue Cultured Daylilies(Hemerocallis)

Question: Why does Home Depot continue to sell tissue cultured daylilies? When a tissue cultured daylily is grown beside the original daylily plant there is a marked difference in appearance. Gold edges disappear, the colors appear muddy, the blooms are often deformed and the plants aren't as vigorous as the original daylily plant. My guess is that tisssue cultured plants are much cheaper to obtain and this allows for a larger profit margin. Can you comment please?

Answer: Tissue culture, or micropropagation, is the one sure way of attaining an exact duplicate of the parent plant. Numerous Hemerocallis (daylily) cultivars are introduced each year that never make it to the consumer market because of limited supplies. The dramatic increase in the number of daylily cultivars and the preference for named cultivars has resulted in daylily propagation being limited to vegetative propagation; namely tissue culture. This process is not cheap. It requires sterile conditions and trained technicians. It also produces a clone - an exact duplicate of the parent. So if you used the process on a specific plant and set the clone next to it, you would see a mirror image - providing both plants were healthy. On the other hand, if you had two different plants of the same name, neither of which were the clone or the parent, you would notice differences because of genetic changes (usually through cross-pollination at some point in the plant's life). It is unlikely that you have both the parent and the clone in your garden so I suspect the differences you are seeing in your plants are because they are individuals and not clones.

Best wishes with your garden.

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