Daylilies forum: Choices

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Name: Janet
coastal southeast NC (Zone 8a)
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rngardnr
Oct 2, 2017 8:04 PM CST
Okay...big question...why do you pick the plants to cross that you do?? What qualities do you evaluate in making your choices?
Name: Larry
Augusta, GA area (Zone 8a)
Daylilies Hybridizer Enjoys or suffers hot summers Region: Georgia
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LarryW
Oct 3, 2017 6:39 PM CST
OK, I’ll bite on this one. There are so many characteristics in daylilies that I am sure that there could be as many answers as there are people who are willing to answer. As for myself, I choose the daylilies I cross based on what I want to see in my seedlings. I understand the basics of genetics, but I have not made lists of which characteristics are considered dominant or recessive, so I cross based on what I see. At the same time, I do look at which daylily plants have a history of being exceptional parents and whether that plant produces good kids when used as pollen parent, pod parent or both. With that said, this is what I like:

Bloom Form: I like “round” daylilies as opposed to star shaped or unusual form daylilies. I have not found it to be typical that crossing two very round daylilies will result in a bunch of equally round seedlings. However, crossing two unusual form daylilies and hoping for round seedlings is, in my opinion, totally illogical.

Color: I like bright, rich colors like red, orange and purple. Therefore, I choose daylilies which I would describe that very same way. I would not use a plant with a "soft" color, one that is muted, weak or shows variegation. However, I do like orange daylilies that mix orange with yellow, so that would be an exception to my own rule.

Edge: I do like edged daylilies, but how much edge? To me that depends on the individual flower. Heavy edges like one might see on the plant Miss Scarlet are sometimes too large. On some flowers, a wire edge is enough to enhance the appearance whereas a wire edge on another daylily may not. I have learned that if you want an edge, you will most likely start with edged parents. At the same time, I have not found any relationship between the size of the edge of the parents on the size of the edge on the seedlings.

Teeth: I like many, but not all, toothy daylilies. Several years ago there were few round, toothy daylilies, and the only thing you could do was cross a star shaped toothy daylily with a round daylily. Over time and with continued hybridizing, there are now more round or nearly round toothy daylilies. Unfortunately, many of them are still fairly expensive. So, if you don’t want to spend a lot, you will have to make round-to-toothy crosses until you get your own round, toothy seedlings to bring into your hybridizing program.

Eye/Watermark/Band: While I do not dislike dayliliy flowers with eyes or bands, I prefer watermarks on darker flowers. A lot of daylilies have an eye in their parentage even though they themselves do not have an eye color. Because of this, I try to look back a couple of generations to see how many eyed flowers are there and if there are several, I decide if I want to use that particular daylily. On the other hand, there are a lot of daylilies with watermarks today, but one needs to look at parentage for them as well because watermarks tend to skip generations too.

Flower Substance: This probably plays back with my comments about color because if the petals and tepals are thin, they will probably not have the bright or rich color I would want. However, you will always get variation in substance from one seedling to another, so you may need to eliminate daylilies from your program if they continue to result in a large percentage of poor substance seedlings.

Scape Height: Everyone likes a daylily to bloom comfortably above the foliage, so crossing two short-sacped dayllies may not be the best way to get tall scapes. There are a few daylilies that are said to help increase scape height through adding them to a hybridizing program. However, not every seed from such a cross, and in fact probably only a small percentage, will develop tall scaped-seedlings. I believe that more of my own seedlings have diminished scape height because I haven’t watered enough, amended my soil properly or applied the right kind or amount of fertilizer than are a result of my choice of parents.

Branching and Bud Count: I think this is much like scape height. No, you don’t want to cross two mature seedlings that have two branches and ten buds and expect to get four or five way branching and 30 buds in the seedlings. But I have seen in my own hybridizing that if I don’t do my job, the seedlings won’t perform as well as I wish they would.

Again, there should be a lot of opinions here that disagree with me, and that’s a good thing. Different people get different results. I live in Georgia on an oversized city lot with water supplied by the city. My results will be different than those from someone in Ohio or Wisconsin, and probably different from my own if I had a well with unlimited water availability. Also, many people have been hybridizing longer than I have, are more observant, and have a better grip on genetics.

Hope this helps if by no other way than getting others to add to the conversation.
Name: Ken
East S.F. Bay Area (Zone 9a)
Region: California
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CaliFlowers
Oct 3, 2017 9:03 PM CST
Nice post, Larry. I might add only one thought; Try not to cross two daylilies with the same fault.
Name: Susanne
West Germany (Zone 8a)
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SusannesGarden
Oct 4, 2017 2:13 AM CST
That's quite a complete answer, Larry, and very interesting to read.

I only started breeding a few years ago, and while toying around during the first years I learned that a breeding concept has its values, as well as a breeding target.
My aim is to breed diploid daylilies which are tall, healthy, well branched, with small flowers, star-shaped, round or spidery. Therefore it's logical to choose the appropriate parents.
A breeding concept simply helps to establish a controlled strategy. Which parents to cross, and again, which children would be a good match.
The concept is also useful to avoid double crossings. I found out in the fourth year, that I had made several identical crossings, which is a waste of time and space.

I've added new parent material this year, mainly with good branching, vigorous growth and clear colours, some with eyes. I consult the daylily database for potential parents' "children", thus I can see which characteristics are dominant and easily passed on. This database is a wonderful source, and I love it.

Edit to add: Something you can't plan in advance are the surprises. I have crossed two diploid seedlings with medium growth - and all their children are tall and stout, almost like triploids. A bonus. :-)

[Last edited by SusannesGarden - Oct 4, 2017 2:18 AM (+)]
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Name: pam
gainesville fl (Zone 8b)
Bee Lover Birds The WITWIT Badge Butterflies Daylilies Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Native Plants and Wildflowers Dragonflies Hummingbirder
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gardenglory
Oct 4, 2017 8:58 AM CST
Try to look at the grandparents of the seed, not just parents. I find very often, it is those characteristics that come forth.
Name: Karen
Southeast PA (Zone 6b)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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kousa
Oct 4, 2017 8:20 PM CST
THanks for posting the question that i have always wanted to ask. I often wish that I "get" it, seeing a visual image of the kids while doing the crosses. I am still trying to understand how some kids come off some parents the way they do. Right now, I am just doing random crosses, a pretty face with a pretty face or a daylily that performs really great in my garden with a pretty face. I am really into consistent rebloom esp. instant rebloom trait in daylilies. Even this as a goal, I have many questions about achieving it. 1: If I use a daylily that has this reblooming trait as a pod parent, will the kids inherit this trait if the pollen parent does not have the reblooming trait or vice versa? 2: How many years does it take for a seedling to grow in order to show this reblooming trait? 3. Do the reblooms take away or reduce blooms the following year? I have bought many daylilies that are described as rebloomers but only a few actually rebloom for me. Hopefully, someone with this hybridizing experience can offer some answers for me.
Name: Janet
coastal southeast NC (Zone 8a)
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rngardnr
Oct 6, 2017 2:34 PM CST
Hello again everyone

Larry, what a wonderful answer to the question....you certainly put a lot of time and effort into it. I thank you very much. I was hoping to start a good conversation about people's reasoning on the matter and your answer certainly was a great start. There sure are a lot of thimgs to consider. Being fairly new at this, I just picked two flowers I thought were pretty. This year's crosses were a little more thought out, but I can see I have a lot more work to do.

Kousa I love your questions and hope we can get a conversation going to get answers for you.. I have only just started doing some crosses of plants I have in the last two years. This year was the first time I got some blooms from my first crosses of several years ago. Nothing special, but it was fun knowing they were mine....I plan to let them go another year or two and see how they develop. This year I purchased seeds off of LA to get some greater diversity in my crosses....but I'll have to wait a couple of years to see what they produce. Anybody know how to speed up plant time lol ???

And I will be sure to look up grandparents and kids

Thank you all

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