Daylily Hybridizing Goals

---(Wonder of it All x Gary Colby)---
2013 seedling, 8 inches

This is the best edged seedling for the 2013 season.
(Sdlg. x Ocean Child) 6.25 inches, 2012 seedling
I love the rich color and dimensional eye zone, but it is not finished.

I want to put this one with a cultivar that will enlarge the edge, and
try to keep the color, green throat, and eye zone.

Hybridizing was my focal point when beginning this journey.
My desire was to create the equivalent of a child-like
excitement of Christmas morning in viewing
never-before-seen blooms with each new season. It 

did not take much to reach that goal. I discovered I had a
passion for crossing flowers, and seeing what they
might produce.

The initial goal was to cross for large blossoms, those 
that measured 6 inches or more on full formed cultivars.
When large flowers presented in numbers beyond my
expectations, I began to notice other characteristics
that I wished to see. So, with each new year, there's a
cornucopia of desirable traits to add to the list. I work

primarily with tetraploids, and on occasion will cross
a diploid, but the tets are the favored cultivars. 
Everyone's goals are going to be somewhat different,
but listed below are some of mine.

Rebloom is an important one, but if the flower has other
interesting characteristics, then I may use it as a 
bridge plant by crossing it with one that is a 
rebloomer. I have crossed two plants that did not
rebloom, yet the seedlings from them did. So, 
sometimes the rebloom characteristic may be a
combination of genetics and also
environmental conditions. This occurred with the
seedlings' first year of bloom, and it usually
takes two years in this climate to see what a 
plant will actually be and do. Therefore, this
matter is a wait and see issue.

I prefer thick, smooth, glossy substance, rather than 
those that appear crepe-like. A thick substance 
endures the day's heat far better than the 
thinner, tissue-like blossoms. 

Arching foliage and foliage that is in harmony with
the size and height of the blossom. The blooms must
be above the foliage and on scapes that are strong
enough to hold up many buds and branches with
large flowers. I have not as yet experienced 
weak scapes on any of the seedlings.

Clean, clear colors, round shape, blunt sepals, wide
petals and sepals, flat blossoms or recurved
blossoms that readily open on cool mornings.

Large blossoms, at least 6 inches and above, with
flat, wide ruffles in all colors of self and eye/edges.

Plants that are vigorous with at least a moderate
ability to increase.

Plants that have blossoms that remain static 
instead of drastic changes in color, size, or shape
from initial bloom to rebloom.

Adequate number of buds and branches for the
overall appearance of the plant.

And, for this climate, plants that flower in mid-
season. Plants that bloom early here are often
subjected to freeze, as are those that bloom late in 
the season. I don't mind having a shorter season as
I prefer quality blossoms. 

I get approximately 85% germination rate overall, and
many pots have 100% germination. Very few
seedlings expire, and most are quite healthy.

Of course, the longer the list of desirable characteristics, 
the more difficult it is to attain.
Often times, plants will have one or more flaws, 
yet have something about them that is 
distinctive. In which case, they can be used as
bridge plants in the attempt to remove the flaw(s).

One important thing to keep in mind is that one 
cannot keep all the seedlings. Before you realize it,
seedlings will take over all the space you have, and
all your energy. Be very selective, and discard 
those that do not make the cut. This is often times
a difficult decision to make.

As far as the how-to, my way is rather tedious and
somewhat inefficient for the time involved, and
may not be suitable for anyone else. The
methodology I use came about by striving for
accuracy. It is very easy to make mistakes when
crossing plants, and also this method gives me a
break in between steps which reduces the  risk
of errors as well.

During the summer bloom season, I take many,
many photos. Then, during the winter, these
photos are used to match up possible crosses
perusing the photos for distinctive details or
desirable characteristics. I want the photos to be
as close as possible to what the eye sees, and my 
camera does a fair job of this. If the camera differs,
as some bloom colors are difficult to capture, then
notations are added to express this. A list, using
a word processing program, is made of all the
parent plants in alphabetical order with the crosses 
listed under each cultivar name. Also, any distinctive
characteristics that I want to pair up are 
noted. A print out of this list is a handy tool
during bloom season.

As the daylilies bloom, the plants in the 
hybridizing area are checked each
afternoon for what may bloom the following
day, and a written list is made. Also ID tags are
prepared, if I haven't already done so, to be 
filled out with information after the crosses
are made. The next day, a list of the cross is 
written down as each cross is made, and 
also the position of the flower on the plant
as in front, back, right, left, center, etc., when
more than one blossom on the plant is 
crossed. This year, I plan to incorporate
"saved" pollen to have a more 
comprehensive availability of choices. Once
I am back inside in cooler comfort, I transfer this
information to the ID tags in addition to the date
of the cross.

Later in the afternoon when it is usually cooler, I 
return to the garden to hang the tags on the crossed
flowers. There are times when I do not adhere
strictly to the cross list. If two flowers bloom
that catch my eye for a nice cross, then it is
crossed. That's about it, then it is a matter of
repetition of steps taken each day.

The first year of seedling bloom, only the 
blossoms, or any that have many buds and 
branches or fans are noted. In the second year
plants are selected to be moved to the 
evaluation bed where they will be under more
observational scrutiny. All remaining 
seedlings are discarded.

I like to do many different crosses rather than
using one pollen parent on many pods. This 
gives me a very wide range of seedlings which
to me are more interesting, and also readily
expresses the value of each paired cultivar's
dominate and in time recessive gene pool.
Some crosses are better than others, and some
I may repeat the cross depending on 
what the seedlings reveal. Once you begin to
see what characteristics are passed onto the
seedlings, you can determine what could
or should be paired together. If you note that
seedlings are for the most part showing a detail 
of one of the parents, you have recognized a 
dominate trait in that parent.

Research any information given for the
parent plant's background. For example, 
putting a heavy edge flower together with
another of the same trait increases your
chance of getting a heavy edged seedling.
The chance is even greater if the background
of both parents carry the said trait in a 
higher percentage. Avoid going too far
backwards with your choice of parents, unless 
you wish to incorporate an important trait such 
as vigor. You don't want to reinvent the wheel.

Crossing tetraploids are far more complicated
based solely on the genetic science, but using an 
intuitive artistic approach along with some of the
science will give you some interesting results,
as well as using the intuitive approach alone.

My aim is to have no more than 500 seedlings.
I haven't realized this goal as yet, but expect to
accomplish this in the season to come. Any
more than 500 takes too much time for me to
give seedlings their necessary attention, and
therefore not very enjoyable. An excellent
number of seedlings to work with and enjoy
observing, documenting, and photographing
is 200, or at least it is for me. I can manage
around 500 or so, but 200 is the most fun.

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