June has become quite dry. We just had our first rain in at least three weeks. Luckily, the irrigation system has managed to pull everything through until we had a break in the weather. There is a drastic difference in growth of plants that are in reach of the misters and those that fall beyond. I am already tired of spot watering with the hose and it isn’t even July.
Astrantia ‘Ruby Cloud’ with Solomon’s seal ‘Byakko’ and Pulmonaria. Both the Astrantia and the Solomon’s seal were planted this spring. Neither has noticed the drought as they are close to irrigation misters.
Hostas ‘Blue Ivory’ and ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ with a bit of Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’. Both of these hostas were added two years ago. ‘Blue Ivory’ is much slower and lower growing than expected, but it is a gorgeous plant with its wide white edges and blue centers.
Double shasta daisy ‘Ice Star’ with veronica. I’ve noticed a number of double daisies being sold at garden centers this year, but I think this selection is the prettiest. The pure white puffs glow from across the yard.
We have a number of daylily cultivars flowering already, though July is usually the peak bloom period here in zone 5/6. I pollinate the flowers every morning, but am quickly becoming overwhelmed by blooms every morning as the mid-season cultivars begin to open.
Daylily ‘Buddy’s Betsy’ (Hall-J. 2013). I do prefer pastels and cool colors, but this cultivar is early blooming which overcomes any issue I have with the bold tone. The first flower opened on May 30th in my zone 5/6 garden, a full month before most other cultivars begin blooming here. The flower looks like velvet, but I am unable to capture that quality with my camera.
Daylily ‘Viva Pinata’ (Gossard 2007) was my second cultivar to bloom, only a week behind ‘Buddy’s Betsy’, though it is registered as a mid-season bloomer. It has large blooms and looks great in my jewel-toned garden.
This is my first year with blooms on daylily ‘Satellite Dreams’ (DeVito 2011) and I am not disappointed. The eye is huge and has a slight blue-purple tint to its registration promises, especially in shady, early morning conditions. The flower is also fairly large and very flat. It has survived two winters here, though this past winter was quite mild.
My first daylily seedlings have begun to bloom! I was actually hoping that there would be some very hideous seedlings that I could start plucking quickly out of the beds to make room for the next round of daylily babies, but it is already difficult to part with a few (and they aren’t really show-stoppers, but maybe they could make a nice second generation?). Below I have included pictures of both parents and the seedlings so far (five have bloomed). I think it is interesting to see how each parent contributes to the offspring and also to see the variability (or lack thereof) among the offspring. Again, this is my first batch of daylily babies, so I can’t say much about how representative this cross will be. If you are interested in seeing a similar posting showing daylily seedlings, visit this link from Oak Forest Technology Solution.
The parents were ‘Blue-Capped Cordon-Bleu’ and ‘Siloam Double Classic’ and the cross was made in 2014. My hybridizing goal was to produce some blue-eyed and patterned doubles with medium to large blooms (it seems like there are a lot of smaller blue-eyed dips). I will probably need to back cross for the possibility of doubles, but now I’m leaning more towards single patterns (it takes about two years from seed to first flower, and my tastes have changed). My options were also pretty limited at the time of pollination as I was just beginning my collection of daylilies.
The pod parent of my first seedlings is daylily ‘Blue-Capped Cordon-Bleu’ (Lambertson 2011). In my garden, it performs a bit differently than described in its registration. First, mine often has larger flowers (probably around six inches rather than four) and has a much more pink tone than the registration photo. It is also reported, by the hybridizer, to be pollen infertile, but I often get pollen (see the picture) and I believe I have seedlings from pods that it made (I have lost track of my seedlings from two years ago… maybe the pollen production is temperature dependent as this plant was hybridized in Florida?). Its high bud count means that this plant flowers for a very long time, it is one of my earliest and latest blooming plants). Unfortunately, it has short scapes this year (we have had some weird temps, so maybe this isn’t normal) and, as a result, I often miss the blooms.
Throwback picture of the pollen parent, daylily ‘Siloam Double Classic’. This is an older cultivar (1985). It is a pretty plant, but it lacks some of the more desirable characteristics that have been bred into newer cultivars, namely bud count and scape (flowering stem) branching. These traits can increase bloom time and surely the bloom time on this plant never seems to last long.
A major goal in daylily hybridizing, aside from making beautiful flowers, is producing healthy plants that bloom for a long time. If you read the American Hemerocallis Society registration information for different cultivars, bloom season, bud count, and scape branches are all reported. Much of this information was not documented for earlier registrations (like ‘Siloam Double Classic’ from 1985). The importance of each of these traits is that they can increase flowering period (and display quality).
The ways that I am familiar with for increasing flowering time include breeding a plant that:
1.) blooms earlier or later than the average daylily (peak season in our zone is early July),
2.) reblooms (this consists of sending up additional scapes after the initial display), and
3.) produces many buds (only a few open every day meaning that it takes a longer time for all of them to flower).
The first method will increase display time for all daylilies in your garden, but not necessarily for the cultivar you produce. The second method is not always ideal for northern gardeners as rebloom scapes may take longer to develop than the growing season will allow. Therefore, I (should) aim to produce more buds (…but, as a newbie hybridizer, I am still mesmerized by flower color…). Branching of scapes can allow you to both fit more buds on a scape and can also help a display to look better by spacing out the blooms. From what I have read, most other hybridizers consider a bud count of 20+ to be ideal for registration. Looking at newer introductions, scape branching of 3+ seems good. A unique plant may be registered with less buds or branches, but you can always try using low count seedlings as parents in combination with plants that have better bud or scape count to produce a more refined generation (or that is the hope).
Therefore, rather than judging each seedling by color alone, characteristics like overall plant health, bud count, and number of branches are important considerations when deciding which plants to breed and which seedlings to register. Now, these characteristics can vary quite a bit depending on growing conditions (you could imagine that a lot of nutrients and water could mean more buds or branches; temperature could impact how flowers open; shade could impact bloom size and scape height). Growing seedlings in a variety of conditions could help you understand what is typical performance for that plant, but truthfully that is beyond my skill level at this point.
Anyways, here are the five seedlings that came from the above cross.
I think it makes sense to mention that my seedling bed is pretty neglected. As you can probably tell from the photos, most of the bed is in shade and this persists for the better part of the day. This will influence bloom appearance in the photos, but also how well blooms hold up in the heat (they might do worse when moved). It could also impact bud count and scape height. Also, this bed is not irrigated, rarely fertilized, and we have had no rain for three weeks. My bud counts are very low (under 12 for all seedlings, even for different crosses), but I don’t yet know what contribution the poverty of this bed has contributed to these low counts. Therefore, I will be keeping any seedlings that look promising for at least another year (despite wanting the space) to see if their bud counts improve with age and with better conditions (hopefully we won’t have another drought during scape development).
The first two seedlings are nearly identical, though the first flower has a rounder form very much like ‘Siloam Double Classic’ while the other has a more pointed appearance, akin to the pod parent (‘Blue-Capped Cordon-Bleu’). I really dislike both of these plants. The colors are not interesting or unique, even to someone who loooooves pink. They have nothing particularly interesting to contribute to daylily hybridization. If they doubled on later blooms, that wouldn’t improve them. They were the first seedlings that I have wanted to cull (I have a couple of spider-y seedlings out of purchased seeds that I am on the fence about).
The third seedling is even worse with its pink-mauve indecision. I would get a better picture of it, but it has gotten even more hideous after the afternoon heat.
The last two seedlings are my favorites. One is a clear cream with a lavender-pink eye. The eye has gotten a bit more depth on its second bloom, fading from a dark to lighter lavender as you look into the throat. This seedling opens well even on cool mornings, unlike the pod parent which often curls. It is fragrant and has three-way branching which I think is pretty promising for my first generation of seedlings. The last seedling has a lot of interest, but it resists opening on cool mornings. The eye has some complexity; there is some speckling coming from the throat and a dark outline on its edge. It is also fragrant and looks like it may have a branch on future scapes. I think both of these are worth keeping to breed with based on their colors, patterns, and fragrance. I’m not sure I’d register either (I don’t feel that they are particularly unique), but we will wait to see how they improve over the season and into next year.
And because we need a bit of a closing, I have also included an arrangement which includes astilbe ‘Younique Silvery Pink’, yarrow ‘Appleblossom’, veronica, and ageratum as well as bachelor buttons ‘Classic Romantic’, sweet pea ‘Oban Bay’, snapdragon ‘Potomac Lavender’, and bells of Ireland that I grew from seed.