Hybridizing Daylilies

Posted by @mistyfog on
Growing daylilies is a relatively easy task. Just plop them in the ground, add some water, and watch the results. But, here's the caveat. Once we begin to grow plants in a monocultural environment, we may enter new avenues that require attention and a bit of research.

Diseases, pests, fertilizers, chemical sprays, soil tests, how to start seeds, and hybridizing become topics of interest. It is much more pleasurable when a community of like-minded individuals share knowledge from their own perspective and experiences, as we have here with ATP.

Such a community is even more valuable when one chooses to hybridize daylilies. Without the advantages of communal knowledge, most information is gleaned by trial and error. This practice is a long-term process, requiring a great deal of patience. Before joining ATP, trial and error was the methodology I used in the attempt to cross-pollinate these amazing plants.

Also, I must add that the excitement of seeing new blossoms from the efforts of hybridizing is akin to a child's thrill on Christmas morning. Imagine jumping out of bed, grabbing the camera, and entering the garden in your jammies, because sometimes that is just the way it is!

Since my current seedlings are the result of several years of trial and error, I will share with you the lessons I have learned doing this the hard way. Now, you might want to keep that in mind. These things I have learned the hard way. Of course, the following suggestions are from my own perspective, and may differ with the experiences of others.

Suggestion One:

Realize your goal. You may tweak your goals as you learn more about these plants, but you instinctively know what captures your attention when you see them. You may not realize at first that you are seeing details, but believe me, you will realize it eventually. It's the details that matter.

I have read that it is best to have only one goal at a time which may be a particular color or form. For me, it is full form, round shape, ruffled, re-bloom, and 6-7 inch blooms in many colors and/or designs. Of course, there's more in my own list of criteria such as foliage habit, buds and branches, rate of increase, etc., but you get the idea. Certainly, I may deviate from the plan if a seeding presents itself with striking characteristics. Rigidity of thought may be counterproductive.

Meeting some or most of the criteria begins the selection process for seedlings, but that's a whole other discussion which will be saved for another day.

Suggestion Two:

Once you have an idea of what you want to pursue, begin looking for the plants that match that idea. Buy the best that you can afford, even if it is only a couple of plants. This will be your best bet in initiating your own line, and a kick-start toward goal achievement.


Happy Happy - Frank Smith 09
Thumb of 2012-10-08/mistyfog/d16ee5
Hog Heaven - Frank Smith 08
Thumb of 2012-10-08/mistyfog/7bb218
Glamoureyez--Harry-Gaskins 09 Beginning of Season
Thumb of 2012-10-08/mistyfog/74e79c
Glamoureyez--Harry-Gaskins 09 Later in Season
Thumb of 2012-10-08/mistyfog/008a79
Prissy Girl - Frank Smith 07
Thumb of 2012-10-08/mistyfog/46c947

Remember to check the stats on plants before you purchase them. You want to be certain the plants you purchase will be fertile in whichever way you need them to be. Note any additional stats that are important to you such as re-bloom, bud and branch development, or rate of increase, etc.

Suggestion Three:

Get to know your plants. How they react in your garden, or how they react to various environmental conditions. How the blossoms change or remain constant during the season, or even from year to year. Such traits may be passed on to the next generation. You may/may not want these traits to continue. Seasonal bloom changes are also one explanation as to why we sometimes see photos that vary in color or other details.

Born to Run is one that comes to mind. The bloom begins deeper in color with barely a discernible watermark, and ends the bloom period in a pale color with a pronounced watermark. Re-bloom starts the process all over again.

Born to Run - Stamile 07 Beginning of Season
Thumb of 2012-10-08/mistyfog/a717ed
Born to Run - Stamile 07 Later in Season
Thumb of 2012-10-08/mistyfog/1d232a

Another is Memphis. Initial bloom is a darker shade of pink with a smaller edge which later transforms into a pale pink with a huge ruffled edge.

Memphis - Trimmer 09 Beginning of Season
Thumb of 2012-10-08/mistyfog/1ff421
Memphis - Trimmer 09 Later in Season
Thumb of 2012-10-08/mistyfog/106c5a

Some plants do not reach their full potential until they mature.

Bella Sera - Stamile 02 - Mature Plant
Thumb of 2012-10-08/mistyfog/898c83

Also, some plants have on/off years of bloom. Note which ones, if that is an important trait to consider. Traits are also a part of the details.

Suggestion Four:

If you are looking for large bloom size or heavily ruffled edges for example, check the parents and grandparents of the plants you intend to cross-pollinate. Putting a heavy edged flower with another of the same trait increases your chances of getting a heavy edged seedling. The chance is even greater if the background of both parents carry said traits in a higher percentage. Sometimes there is no historical lineage to consult, in which case one has to make decisions based on the current blooms.

Examples of crosses:

Gary Colby - Petit 06 Papa
Thumb of 2012-10-08/mistyfog/d60d20
Wonder of it All - Carr 06 Mama
Thumb of 2012-10-08/mistyfog/80806f
Seedling future Wonder of it All x Gary Colby
Thumb of 2012-10-08/mistyfog/be3af6
Ocean Child - Trimmer 08 Mama
Thumb of 2012-10-08/mistyfog/db56df
Linda Beck - Agin 06 Papa
Thumb of 2012-10-08/mistyfog/c1c5ad
Seedling future Ocean Child x Linda Beck
Thumb of 2012-10-08/mistyfog/2b763a
Wonder of it All x Linda Beck (see photos above of parents)
Thumb of 2012-10-08/mistyfog/f21c44
Sib to above -
Thumb of 2012-10-08/mistyfog/f44d6e

Seedling Future - Wonder of it All x Gary Colby - See parent photos above



Suggestion Five:

Avoid going too far backwards, unless you are trying to incorporate an important trait such as stamina into your crosses. If the idea is to put a heavily ruffled edge on a flower that has no edge, the odds are against you most of the time.

Suggestion Six:

Take photos of your flowers during each season. Peruse your photos and note each flower's exclusive details. Decide which have traits that might complement each other. These will be your choices for crosses. Some persons decide to cross-pollinate whatever happens to be blooming at the same time. I've done this as well, if I think the two might be a good match.

Hybridization can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. It's all in the details, and what you wish to do with them. Details are comprised of throat color, base color, edge color, watermark, eye zone, shape, substance, ruffles, patterns, and so much more. When you examine a daylily, you can find many depths of characteristics.

Above all, try to keep seedlings within a workable number. Too many can be very expensive to care for as well as physically demanding. I'm still working on adhering to this lesson.

Suggestion Seven:

Have fun! More often than not, I tend to get into serious mode, and get overly concerned with these plants. Do they have enough water? Are they lacking something? Most of the time, they do not need my intervention, and worrying about them is all for naught. Daylilies generally do quite well on their own with moderate attention. As I stated previously, they are amazing plants!

Comments and discussion:
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Very well said. by spunky1 Oct 21, 2012 12:36 PM 4
Wonderful Article! by Betja Oct 14, 2012 7:38 PM 5

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