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Author Topic: Hybridizing Daylilies and other info (2)  (Read 1478 times)

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Offline abby

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Hybridizing Daylilies and other info (2)
« on: March 13, 2010, 01:05:39 AM »
This thread was started under the Daylily segment by the founder of this Forum much loved Dries Olivier.

I bringing this topic into General Techniques as it has much further application to other gardening members not just Daylily growers

All members can learn a lot about organised gardening from this thread


 :clap:

My Hybridizing Method
I have often been asked to give more detail about hybridizing, especially record keeping. The following is the method I am currently using. This is in no way the only way to do things. It's just the method I've have found that works for me and it's constantly changing as I find ways to improve. Your personal method may be completely different than mine and may work as well or better for you than this one does for me.
Selecting which crosses to make
During the winter months, I begin planning the crosses I would like to make during the coming bloom season. First I identify my primary goals (what am I attempting to accomplish with my crosses this year). Then I review my breeding stock (including seedlings) to select which plants have the characteristics I am looking for. These will be the plants I will use as pollen parents in the upcoming year. I make sure that this list doesn't include any plants that have what I consider major flaws as I don't want to knowingly introduce bad plant traits into my line. Actually, this list already exists from the previous year and it's simply a matter of eliminating those that I no longer wish to work with and adding any new stock that I may have acquired.
Then I begin reviewing all my breeding stock for potential crosses with this list of pollen parents. Again, I keep my goals in mind whenever deciding to make a cross. I list each plant and the cross (or crosses) to be made. To help make the decisions, I use something I call my "Hybridizer's Pal" (see sample). It's like a web page with the pictures of pollen parents on the right and all the potential pod parents on the left. I can then compare each cultivar with the potential pollen parents. In addition to showing the bloom I also include my own hybridizing notes regarding bloom size, branching, bud count, and plant habits (both good and bad). Most plants have both good traits and bad and I make sure not to cross two plants that both have the same bad traits. For example, two plants with low bud count will usually have children that all have low bud counts which would be a waste of time and garden space. Instructions for making your own Hybridizer's Pal.
Different cultivars selected for crossing may bloom at different times. This would turn a "planned cross" list into a "hoped-for cross" list. Fortunately, daylily pollen freezes quite well and if frozen properly will remain fertile for years. I store my pollen in plastic contact lens cases (the plastic ones that hard contact lenses come in that just snap shut). My local optician ordered a hundred for me although he now looks at me rather strangely when I come in for my checkup. I cut off some of the excess plastic and found a couple of clear plastic boxes each with 18 compartments. Each compartment holds 12 of these cases. This allows me to store pollen from up to 18 cultivars in a rather small space in the freezer. Having two boxes allows me to be collecting pollen for next year in one while using the pollen out of the other.
To freeze the pollen, I simply remove the anthers with a pair or tweezers and place a couple in the cup of each lens case. I dry the pollen by leaving the cases open in an air-conditioned room with a ceiling fan going at low speed to give some air circulation. After 12-24 hours I close the cases up and put them in the freezer. When I'm ready to use them, I simply remove a case from the freezer, let it warm to room temperature for a few minutes before opening, and then grab an anther with my tweezers and head for the garden.
Making Crosses
Each night, once bloom season starts, I make a list of the plants that will bloom the following day. Then I decide what will be crossed to each of the plants on the list. If I have already made a particular cross this year, I write the cross number I previously used on the sheet so I won't accidently assign a different number to it. For each new cross made I make an entry in an Excel spreadsheet. The first cross is number 1, the second 2, etc... The following is a sample of what the spreadsheet might look like after a few entries:
Cross
# Pod Parent Pollen Parent
1 Isle of Zanzibar Uppermost Edge
2 Grace and Grandeur Ida's Braid
3 Splendid Touch Edge of Heaven
I like using Excel for this because I can sort by the pollen parent making it easy to see if I have made a cross, and then I can sort back by the cross number.
Each individual bloom that has been pollinated is marked with the cross number. I make my own bloom tags by cutting up old 1" mini-blinds into 1.5" pieces, punching a hole in one end with a paper punch, and inserting the end of a twistie. A couple of twists and I have a tag. I use a Sharpie Permanent Marker to write the cross number on the tag and gently wrap the twistie around the base of the bloom.
Seed storage
When the seed pods start to split open, I remove the seeds and place them in a fold-lock top baggie (the cheap kind). I use the cross tag to tie up each baggie (so I know what's in it) and toss it in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. If harvesting on a rainy day, I use a paper towel to dry the seeds a little before placing them in the bag. Wet seeds can sometimes germinate prematurely or become moldy even in the refrigerator. When the last seeds have been harvested, I will sort the baggies by cross number, combining all the seeds from a particular cross in one bag.
Planting the seeds
If it's been a good year, I will usually have more seeds than I can reasonably expect to grow. To decide which seeds will be planted, I go back to the Excel spreadsheet I created when making my crosses. I add another column which is a planting code. Here I rate each cross from 0 thru 5 as follows:
? 5 = future Stout medals (ha!)
? 4 = excellent crosses
? 3 = good crosses
? 2 = fair crosses
? 1 = crosses done just to make sure I have enough seeds
? 0 = no seed produced
Then I sort descending by this code. This puts the list of crosses in the same priority order as this list.
Usually about the 2nd or 3rd week in August, I start my seeds in 'tree trays'. The individual cells are 2" wide at the top and 5" deep. They taper slightly toward the bottom which makes it easy to get the seedlings out when it's time to transplant. Each tray has 38 cells. I plant 40 trays which is just over 1500 seeds. The planting mix should be light and well drained which will allow plenty of oxygen to reach the root systems as the plants develop. I number each tray 1-40 and make notes showing which cross is in each cell on each tray.
These trays are placed in my driveway and kept well watered. I suspend some shade cloth over the trays because the sun here may be still too strong for the seedlings. I water frequently so they don't dry out. I usually get about 85% germination, sometimes more. Starting about a month after the seeds germinate, I begin feeding with half strength water soluble fertilizer (15-30-15) about every 2 weeks or so. I'll do this until I'm ready to plant them in the ground. The shade cloth comes off usually the first week in October.
I work lots of organic matter (usually composted stable sweepings) into the bed prior to transplanting the seedlings. Then I cover the areas to be planted with a light weight weed block fabric. I plant my seedlings 4" apart in rows 8" apart. I know this is really closer together than they should be, but I have such limited space, it's the only way I can get a reasonable number of seedlings planted every year. Even this close together, I can only get about 1000 new seedlings planted each year.
To transplant the seedlings, I cut a 2.5" cross in the fabric with a sharp knife every 4" along the row. Then I use a dibble to prepare the hole. I couldn't find a dibble the right size for this so I made my own from a 2 foot length of 2 inch round wooden railing available at Home Depot. I just fashioned one end into a point and it works great. By pushing the point down into the soil and moving it around a couple of times in a circular fashion, I have a hole that's almost exactly the same size and shape as the seedling root ball from the trays. I just pop the seedling out of the tray and plop it in the hole. A little pressure around the sides and it's done.
The timing of the transplanting is not that important as the plants keep growing in the trays. I usually plant when I get time, which has been as late as February. My target for this year is early December. Remember, I live on the gulf coast so we seldom get much of a winter.
Selecting the keepers
When the seedlings begin blooming for the first time, I mark the seedlings that I find interesting and would like to possibly evaluate further. Because my seedlings are grown so close together, I usually don't get to see the plant's potential until I move it to one of my evaluation beds where it has lots of room. However, I can usually get a good idea of the plant's potential by how well it does under these crowded conditions. Unfortunately, I don't have enough space in the evaluation beds to keep every interesting seedling so I use the following procedure to select what get's to be further evaluated.
Each interesting bloom is assigned a number and logged in a book with some basic data such as bloom size, scape height, branching, and bud count. The number is prefixed with the first bloom year and numbered sequentially as they are entered in the book (IE: 2000-001, 2000-002, etc...). I take a digital image so I have a good record of what the bloom looks like. A numbered flag is placed next to the plant so it can be located later. This process lasts 2 years as some seedlings don't really show their potential until the 2nd bloom year.
After the 2nd bloom season, it's time to decide what I keep and what I compost. I review the images and performance notes I have made during the first 2 years and basically make selections based on the following criteria:
? Seedlings that are possible candidates for introduction
? Seedlings that have a beautiful bloom but branching and bud count may not be up to par.
? Seedlings that are pretty and have excellent garden habits
The second group is considered because once a plant is moved to where it is not competing for space, it will show it's true potential and may indeed have a good bud count and branching. The last group is selected primarily for use as yardsale plants. Any plants that were marked but not selected for further evaluation are usually given away to friends and co-workers. Plants not marked at all are discarded.
Selected seedling evaluation
Plants in the evaluation beds have their vital signs taken every year (bloom size, bud count, branching, and scape height). New images are taken to keep the archive current. Seedlings being considered for introduction will also have additional information recorded such as bloom season, foliage habit, fragrance, etc...
Each fall the evaluation plants are reviewed and the following are selected for removal from the beds:
? Seedlings that will be registered. These are moved to a separate bed and lined out for increase.
? Seedlings that have performed well but will probably not be registered. These are removed and potted up for my yard sale in the spring.
? Seedlings that have not done that well. These are sent to the compost pile.
Selecting seedlings for registration is probably the most difficult part of the evaluation. In addition to the normal requirements of good branching, bud count, plant vigor, rebloom, etc..., I ask myself "would I devote some of the limited space in my display beds to grow it" and "would I be proud to tell someone that I was the hybridizer". If I can answer yes to both questions then I will consider registering it.
Well, that's about all there is to it... at least at this time. As I said before, I'm constantly trying to find better ways to do this. As I think back over the years I see all the changes I've gone through. From crossing one pretty plant to another, to planting seeds directly in the ground, to digging up a bed after only one bloom season, I'm happy to say that there wasn't anything I did that didn't work. It's just that some things seem to work a little better than others.
Good luck and may there be a Stout Silver Medal in your future!

:good: Happy gardening!!!
Never regret anything that made you smile.

Offline abby

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Re: Hybridizing Daylilies and other info (2)
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2011, 12:12:33 PM »
As the Daylily season is about to begin, I thought I would give this thread a bump  :)
Never regret anything that made you smile.

Offline Lotsalilys

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Re: Hybridizing Daylilies and other info (2)
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2011, 14:24:36 PM »
I miss Dries.
My goodness isn't this fun!!!

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Re: Hybridizing Daylilies and other info (2)
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2011, 14:24:36 PM »
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Offline abby

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Re: Hybridizing Daylilies and other info (2)
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2011, 23:28:11 PM »
I miss Dries.
:'( Yes I know how you feel John
Never regret anything that made you smile.

Offline Michael

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Re: Hybridizing Daylilies and other info (2)
« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2011, 08:14:12 AM »
John, I miss you as well!
You've been quiet, I hope all's well there.