Daylilies forum: "Tissue Culture" -- What is it and why is it bad?

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Name: Mary
My little patch of paradise (Zone 7b)
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fiwit
Jun 22, 2012 8:40 PM CST
Someone mentioned in Tina's "New Member Questions" thread that one problem with big box store daylilies is that they're probably tissue cultured. I was going to just nod and smile, pretending I knew what she was saying, but decided not to.

What does that mean, and why does it matter? Is it only important if you plan to hybridize? My 2-3yr old big box store DLs look great, have strong sturdy scapes and have bloomed their little (and big) heads off for me this year.

Is it just a way to be a daylily snob, or is there really a serious drawback to them for the average person?
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Name: Michele
Cantonment, FL zone 8b
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tink3472
Jun 22, 2012 9:37 PM CST
If you go to this link and scroll down to tissue culture it explains it some.
http://www.mikesbackyardgarden...

Tissue culture is taking a tiny piece of plant and putting in a test tube, so to speak, and growing it. Then cutting it up some more and growing it then once it has leaves and roots growing them as seedlings until full grown. Some plants do great tissue cultured, some even do better than the mother plants. Daylilies on the other hand don't always do so well. It can bring out mutations and the bad underlying qualities it may have. Some actually do great and if evaluated properly you can have a great plant. But when mass produced and not evaluated for quality it can lead to having daylilies that have not quite the right color. lower bud count, performs poorly, etc.

Big box stores buy in quantity and for lowest price. The only way that, say for instance, every single Lowes can have all the daylilies that they sale is by buying from someone who mass produces. And IMHO the only way to do that is to tissue culture. Then you add in Walmart and Home Depot and even local nurseries that have these plus any other stores that may sell them. A lot of these places buy from the same suppliers so that's a lot of daylilies being bought and sold.

If you are just growing them in your garden then you may not have a problem with them being TC if they perform well. But then you have the people who buy the ones who don't do well and they may decide that daylilies aren't good plants and then they won't buy more and they tell there friends about it and maybe they won't buy any.

I have bought from these places and some do great, then I've had others that perform very poorly, didn't increase, never bloomed properly, and the blooms looked awful all the time and didn't look like it should (coloring).

I hope this answers your questions some.

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Name: Mary
My little patch of paradise (Zone 7b)
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fiwit
Jun 22, 2012 9:53 PM CST
I figured it was kind of like cloning, to use a very simplistic example.

And I understand the points you're making. I guess I've been lucky with mine - the pots were labeled properly, and the DLs have all been wonderful. Haven't really paid attention to increase, but I planted my first ones in 2010, I think, so I haven't really been looking for increase yet. And the only one that doesn't really match the expected color is darker than I expected, so I have no complaints there. Hilarious! (except it makes me doubt whether I really know what it is -- it should be Minstrel Boy, but it seems to be significantly darker, almost Alaskan Midnight dark).

Realized today that the scape on one of them is almost as thick as my thumb, so I'm assuming it's a happy plant Hilarious!


Thanks!
Northwest Georgia Daylily Society
I'm going to retire and live off of my savings. Not sure what I'll do that second week.
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Name: Juli
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daylily
Jun 22, 2012 10:41 PM CST
Michele, very good explanation.

I have grown TC plants beside field grown divisions of the same cultivar that were directly from the hybridizer. In every case, the TC plants were inferior. I am only talking about a handful of plants, so it was not a large experiment. I don't remember details, as it was at least 10 years ago. I have not knowingly bought a TC daylily since.

However, I think most Hosta on the market are TC. They seem to TC well.

Name: Cynthia (Cindy)
Melvindale, Mi (Zone 5b)
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Hemlady
Jun 23, 2012 4:53 AM CST
I was the one that mentioned the tissue cultured because I had a bad experience with some about 7 or 8 years ago. I had ordered 2 from a seller on ebay and when they bloomed they didn't look anything like the flower they were supposed to be. That turned me off to them and I haven't willingly bought any since. However, the ones I saw at Lowes were decent looking. Like I said in my other post I saw most of them blooming and the blooms looked fine. Final Touch was in bloom and it had a scape like a tetraploid scape. The only thing is, I saw a lot of tags in the wrong pots.
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Name: bb
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lilylady
Jun 23, 2012 5:14 AM CST
An example of plants tissue cultured - notice the difference.

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Name: Cynthia (Cindy)
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Hemlady
Jun 23, 2012 5:34 AM CST
I'm assuming that the more vibrant colored ones are the true ones, correct??
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Name: Tina
Where the desert meets the sea (Zone 9b)
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chalyse
Jun 23, 2012 11:20 AM CST
nice discussion of the pros and cons (thanks for delving further, Mary! and, i'm assuming the same as Cindy about the pic) ... to my newbie eyes, i am much more enjoying the sorta tropical color gradations in my big box breathless beauty than if it were from what i have seen of the regular stock color ranges, depending on zone, sunlight time, etc (other examples do not begin to enchant me the way this one does).

based on a database note about breathless beauty - that [fan-divided specimens] do not fade in the sun - i would have to say the tissue-culture variety does fade, almost down from purplish-pink with orange-yellow tinges all the way through more orange-based washes, and then to an interesting silvery-gray-and-streaked look by night. but, my no-calif valley sun is truly unrelenting, too. on balance, though, if i saw the two blooming side-by-side, even and perhaps because of the interesting fading habit (new to my eyes morning, noon, and night) i'd pass the 'regular' specimen by and pick up the 'mutated' one Whistling

on the other hand, for hybridizing purposes (even for amateur hobbyists like me), its critically useful to identify and work with DLs that have a pedigree, known lineage, confidence in color range and pheno/genotype characteristics, and strength of natural growing/dividing habits (so, a TC "con" for sure), or it can become a very needless shot in the dark. still, i feel a tinge of concern that so many nice newer hybrids, really it seems at times like all of them, are "unknown x unknown," or "something x seedling", appearing as though hiding one's work is now so profitable that it overshadows the ethic to keep the fun and knowledge available to all. naturally, there must be some unknown crosses that occur, and you can tell pretty easily when that's honestly the case Thumbs up but it all makes me wonder if DLs will soon go the way of fuchsias ... so removed from the common garden/er that even successful hybridizers become co-opted by Suntory whiskey, copyrighted, mass propogated, and rendered sterile before they'll sell only through exclusive higher-end conglomorates ... the gall mite devastation in fuchsias opened the door for suntory to generate a super-resistant line, and pretty much tore the societies apart *sigh* Shrug! i guess i'd rather see DLs stay at the big boxes and see some nice varieties taking hold there, than see the fight that may be looming between Suntory and independent hybridizers ...

i think that's what i love most about DLs ... at the moment ... still able to find nice fans divided from known pedigrees that are under 10$, as well as to sometimes happily indulge with an inspiring instant-purchase at big box ... keeps the door open for regular peeps and hobbyists to find something of latest/greatest quality; there's room enough for everyone ... even for those at the top to keep Suntory et al at bay if prices regularly start attracting attention Hurray!

Thank Goodness for places like All Things Plants, and the super-helpful hybriders and members who make Daylilies a pleasure for all!
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[Last edited by chalyse - Jun 24, 2012 9:46 PM (+)]
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Name: Vickie
Elberfeld, Indiana, USA (Zone 6b)
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blue23rose
Jul 13, 2018 12:01 PM CST
I was going to reference this 6-year-old thread in a new one, then realized I could just bump it up. Glad I found it, because Tink3472's (Michele) explanation is wonderful and I thought it may help others who are wondering about TC.

The subject of TC was brought up in this thread and was the reason for my search to know more about it.
The thread "Brecks daylilies" in Daylilies forum

I was surprised to find this 1988 Chicago Tribune article featuring Roy Klehm: http://articles.chicagotribune....

In it, hybridizer Roy Klehm says he used tissue culture to increase stock. I was wondering if this was an accepted practice back then and if is still done today by any hybridizers or if it is considered taboo now.

I have been avoiding buying daylilies from the big box stores because I knew they were TC. But now after reading this article, I wonder how many daylilies I might have that are TC because if several hybridizers did this 30 years ago, there's no telling what's being sold and traded out there. It could explain a lot when we compare our cultivars and one person gets great performance while another person doesn't.

Hoping someone can elaborate on what hybridizers think of tissue cultured daylilies. If it is practiced today, I also was wondering how many years they evaluate a TC daylily before selling the stock.
Vickie
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Name: James
California (Zone 8b)
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JamesT
Dec 19, 2019 10:59 AM CST
Hemlady said:I'm assuming that the more vibrant colored ones are the true ones, correct??


I suspect that the photo is of a group of plants that were all from TC, and illustrates the variability that can occur when daylilies are propagated that way. If that's the case, my position might be that none of them were the original cultivar, but that some of the plants resembled the original more than others.
Name: Jeff
Newaygo, Michigan (Zone 5a)
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goedric
Dec 19, 2019 11:35 AM CST
JamesT said:

I suspect that the photo is of a group of plants that were all from TC, and illustrates the variability that can occur when daylilies are propagated that way. If that's the case, my position might be that none of them were the original cultivar, but that some of the plants resembled the original more than others.


Also note that the ones with washed out color in the back have washed out colors on the leaves as well... perhaps that's real... perhaps it's lighting. Honestly, I am not sure there has been enough research into all the pros and cons of TC on daylilies... when you culture a plant from a few cells things can go sideways... even stem cuttings on grapes for example can result in some variation... sports of many plants "appear" and the altered traits are often not passed on (not stable). So, are the shifts on color etc cause by micropropagation usually passed on, sometimes? most always? Almost never? Honest question... I have no idea. And would you notice in any practical sense considering that sexual reproduction scrambles things anyway? Is it possible that a cheap clone might not quite match the original but more or less faithfully pass the vast majority of important genes of the original? And if passed on 99.5% faithfully would it be such a bad thing to save 90% on the cost of the plant and have 99.5% of the genes to work with for hybridization purposes? And to the degree that cloning introduces clonal variations are they random? Or are you likely to see certain mutations over others? Meaning can we guess at the shifts we might be most likely to see? All interesting questions.

Now if cloning weakens the plant... that is a consideration... Using hormones to speed growth (BAP. etc) has also been accused of weakening the plants.... the question is does it always? Is there a safe way to do it? Lower doses of hormones? Longer recovery period? Would rapidly growing a set and then letting them grow natural divisions be a possible solution (that way any damaged clones could be culled).

I find the whole topic of cloning very interesting and by it's very nature it will be something that many hybridizers who are not interested in mass propagation will be dead set against... if their $300 cultivar becomes a more or less faithful $10 plant in 2 yrs most people will wait the 2 years to save $290.

In the hosta world you often see the term "original clone" ... meaning that it was a division of the original hybrid with no cloning at all... original clones command a higher price because of the possible unknowns surrounding micropropagation...

Anyway, when my life settles down some (in like 2 yrs), it's something i hope to play with!
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Name: Maurice
Grey County, Ontario (Zone 4b)
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admmad
Dec 19, 2019 1:05 PM CST
There can be much misinformation and assumptions made about tissue cultured plants, particularly daylilies. I have looked at some aspects of tissue culturing, and tissue culturing daylilies and big box store daylilies that were not true-to-name or that apparently were not true-to-name.

A potential problem with big box store daylilies that also can affect specialist daylily growers is that over time and independently cultivars can become misidentified. For example, I bought daylilies labelled as 'Stella de Oro' over and over again and did not receive what I considered to be the correct cultivar. I finally did but I expect that a large number of people are growing small yellow daylilies they bought as Stella that are not. How does that happen. One way is if you are growing thousands of Stella plants in field after field you probably are not deadheading them. After a few years the fields will no longer be all Stella. Those fields supply big box stores.

Another potential problem is that plants supplied to big box stores are typically grown in greenhouses over winter. There is insufficient light in greenhouses in northern areas for good growth and flower colours can be severely affected. One test daylily I purchased, presumed to be tissue-cultured (tc), did not flower with its true colours for many weeks after purchase but did in the end produce flowers that were identical to the vegetatively divided version growing nearby. Poor growth during greenhouse production can have "carry-over" effects that can last until the next year.
So, if you purchase a cultivar from a big box store and it does not seem quite right the first year wait and check it the next year and try moving it to different spots in your garden to see how it grows.

There are different ways to tissue culture plants. One way is to force the plant to create growing points (shoot apical meristems) from parts that were not destined to do that. So the plant cells make a callus. The callus is then divided into small pieces and grown larger and then divided again and so on until there are enough portions to produce plants. If the callus is used for too long then changes can accumulate and the final products are not all necessarily true to the original. That is poor tissue culture technique.

However there are other methods, which use normal shoot apical meristems and produce many normal shoots from an original meristem. Those techniques are typically true to the original. That is more or less what any one who takes proliferations and grows them is doing. A proliferation is a reproductive meristem that reverted to a vegetative meristem because the plant abnormally produced hormones.

Lastly, it is unlikely that any vegetatively produced clone is genetically 100% identical to the original plant. That is because mutations, although rare, happen. Even though a new mutation may only happen once in a million times there are tens of thousands of genes in each daylily cell and there are millions of cells in every daylily plant. When a daylily plant grows it produces many generations of cells and at each generation mutations can occur. The longer ago a daylily was registered and the longer ago divisions were separated the more genetically different the divisions will be.

Growers of some perennials, for example Easter lilies, find that too many changes accumulate over time and reselect the bulbs they use to propagate the lilies in their fields every ten years. Each grower's Easter lilies are slightly different from each others in some characteristics (and genetically) even though they are all the same vegetatively propagated cultivar 'Nellie White'.
Maurice
[Last edited by admmad - Dec 19, 2019 2:53 PM (+)]
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Name: Robin
Southern Michigan (Zone 6a)
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RobinSeeds
Dec 19, 2019 2:32 PM CST
Wow, that's very interesting Maurice. Thank-you!
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Name: Dave
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Nhra_20
Dec 19, 2019 4:57 PM CST
Tissue culture has many advantages. Some plants are carriers of virus or disease. Tissue culture is one way to rid a cultivar of the virus. Keep producing it and then testing for virus until clean.

Now I've done tissue culture with lilium, but the biggest advantage to tissue culture, in my opinion, is embryo rescue. Lilium seed does not have a protective coating, so you can remove the embryo that's visible and place in a test tube with a grow medium. The purpose is to create crosses with plants that aren't known to be fertile, but once in a while might still make a viable seed.

Doing tissue culture is also prone to contamination, so nothing is guaranteed with it, at least at home anyways versus in an actual lab.
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Name: Jeff
Newaygo, Michigan (Zone 5a)
If You Can't Fix It...
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goedric
Dec 19, 2019 5:12 PM CST
If anyone is interested in learning more about plant tissue culture in general, and actually experimenting with it at home, there is a website called Kitchen Culture Kit that provides supplies and instructions that you might want to check out. I ordered from this website and did some tissue culture about a decade ago... it's still going strong...

Dont throw away those baby food jars.. especially the deep ones.. Thumbs up

http://www.kitchenculturekit.c...
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Name: Dave
Southern wisconsin (Zone 5b)
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Nhra_20
Dec 19, 2019 6:12 PM CST
Another good source is this book. This is the third edition published in 1996, so there might be a newer 4th edition as well.
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