It’s cold today. I think the “high” will be around zero. To counteract the awful temperature, I have decided to think of summer.
I started my daylily seeds about a week and a half ago and I was greeted with my first sprouts this morning. I have always been interested in gardening, I understood the whole crossing and hybridizing thing, I even had a couple of genetics classes in college. But it was only a few years ago I decided to try my hand at it. Daylilies are really easy to cross as far as the physical steps are concerned. Simply pull the anther (pollen part) off of one daylily and apply the pollen to the stigma of another daylily.
The science, or in my case dumb luck, behind it is a whole other thing. Developing the next great thing in daylilies is a career for many folks. They cross and grow thousands of seedlings each year, hoping to get just a couple great daylilies to market and sell. They have specific goals set for what they are trying to develop, focusing on a certain color or shape, all while maintaining an excellent plant habit. Those daylilies must have strong scapes (stems), have multiple blooms, flowers that hold up to the weather, be able to grow well in the area they live in, etc.
I too have goals, but they are a little loosey-goosey. My first year 2007, I simply crossed the four of five daylilies that I had, not really knowing what I was doing. I bought a couple of seeds on the The Lily Auction, and most of those plants by now do not even exist in my garden because I didn’t really like the results. I have toyed with height (that goal has stayed), blue eyes (eh, lost interest in that one), unusual forms (I really like what are called spiders, long narrow petals), green throats (the center of the flower) and loud strong colors (my big thing right now). Last year’s seeds which will bloom in 2013 or 2014 should be colorful, tall and have big green throats. At least that is what I hope!
As of today, I have approximately 200 daylilies in the garden, 140 of those my own seedlings. Each year I planted around 150-200 seeds. None typically bloom the first year, and about half bloom the second year. Therefore, I have some seeds that I collected in 2009 that I have not yet seen bloom. There are even a couple from ’08, but if they don’t bloom this next summer, they are gone.
This year I had to limit myself to planting about 60 seeds. If this year is like most, almost all of them should germinate. I really only have room for about 30 in my garden, but I always find a way!
Currently the seeds reside in plastic cups on heat mats in my basement, under a plant light. They will remain there until early to mid April, depending on the weather. I will gradually harden them off to the outside weather, and plant them outside in my seedling bed. Daylilies are tough perennials. I don’t want any babies in my garden. Therefore, other than water them for a bit after I first transplant them, I don’t do much for them but provide good soil. I only want the toughest. If they die, then I consider that part of the culling process.
Here is a photo of my first seedlings of 2012. These happen to be seeds that I bought on the lily auction. They are all about green throats and I couldn’t be more excited!
The rest will germinate any time from now on. I have had some that wait until the middle of summer, but most should peek through by the middle of February.
I hope you found this interesting. I will keep you updated on their progress.