HomepageHybridizing

We have nearly thirty years experience hybridizing bearded iris. Our daylily breeding program was started in 1999. We now bloom approximately 18,000 seedlings each year in our quest for new cultivars. You can see some of our new creations by clicking on Seedlings on our hompage. Ninety percent of the new daylilies are tetraploids. Tetraploids being four sets of chromosomes versus two with diploids. There are still a few breeders working almost exclusively with diploids and some of the diploids are still outstanding cultivars well worth growing

Tetraploid breeding in daylilies is bringing exciting new advancements such that fifteen year old daylilies are in most cases not competitive with the new varieties. Some daylilies are round and ruffled, some are narrow and spidery, some are purposefully twisted, some have giant flowers and others have tiny flowers. This all leads to a very interesting garden setting.

Two of the most dramatic characteristics that are becoming mainstream are eyes and edges. The eyes have many different colors and forms and the edges can be multiple colors and many different styles from heavy ruffling, sharks teeth, or other styles. In addition to eyes and edges, we are starting to see other unusual complex patterns emerge.

As for form, the daylilies continue to become larger, clearer colors, more pronounced ruffling, better scapes with more flowers, more sun tolerance, fragrances, and better all around landscape plants.

The mechanics of daylily breeding are easy. The pollen needs to be fresh and dry, the pistil must also be fresh and dry. We like to make our crosses when the temperature is between 60 and 80 degrees, which for us are the mornings. If the nighttime temperature is below about 53 degrees, we find little seed set so we set the temperature in our greenhouse so the heater keeps the temperature above 55 degrees. After the crosses are made, the seeds are harvested when the pods dry and start to crack. The seeds will be round and black and usually about 3/16 inch in diameter. When lined out and watered, they will germinate easily and almost immediately. This means you must be able to protect the tiny seedlings from severe weather. We refrigerate our seeds in envelopes for three weeks and line out in trays that are put into the greenhouse on wire racks. The hybridizing is all done in our greenhouse and our seedlings are lined out on tractor rows with only about 8 inches of spacing between cultivars. We cover the beds with commercial drip tape and 3 mil plastic mulch film. This eliminates the need to weed a large field of seedlings. When they bloom the field is walked daily and selected seedlings are numbered, photographed and potted so they can be moved into the greenhouse for further evaluation. One can write the seedling number on the reverse side of the foliage with a Sharpee marker. An excellent way to keep seedlings organized for photographing. I would also like to suggest an excellent numbering system for seedlings. We use an alphabetic character for the year, a numeric character for the cross number and another alphabetic character for the save from a specific cross. For example K1203B would be a cross made in the "K" year, the 1203 cross which is written in the stud book, and B means it's the second save from the K1203 cross. When cultivars are saved the second year, we begin with N to designate saves. A simply an easily manageable system of identification.

If you want to seriously breed daylilies we would encourage you to visit some of the major breeders during their bloom season to see what others are doing. Finally, we would like to point you in a source on the net for a very extensive and very good critique on hybridizing by Oscie Whatley. If you are serious about hybridizing, be sure to check out this source: http://www.daylilies.org/AHSArchives.html .