First you need some daylilies, Hemerocallis blooming at the same time. They need to be of the same type, Diploid or Tetraploid. Our trio above had a late June tryst, assisted by the Fairegardener who plucked a flower from H. ‘Dave Rhyne’ and tickled the fancies of H. ‘Heavenly Treasure’ and H. ‘Elegant Candy’ on one fine midsummer day. Romance was in the air.
The flower stalks on the female plants were tagged with the names and date of pollination. Then we waited for a pod to form. Then we waited for the pod to ripen, open and expose the seeds inside. Freshness counts. The seeds were planted in four inch pots about one half inch deep in seed starting mix covered with chicken grit and set in a shady spot outdoors where they could be watched for the babies to show their heads. The time from seed planting to babies was a few weeks. When the weather turned colder, nights below 50 F, the pots were brought inside the greenhouse.
Having a greenhouse is optional for this to work, as is the whole potting process. The ripe seeds can be sown directly into the ground and will grow. It just takes a whole lot longer, several years, before the seed grows into a flowering size plant. This extra work is being done in hopes of getting blooming sized plants sooner. I use a bagged seed starting mix, purchased at the big box store. When sowing all seeds, we use either chicken grit or vermiculite as the top layer. This prevents disease and keeps the leaves cleaner from soil splashing when being watered. Latex gloves and a tray help keep the messiness to a minimum. Our greenhouse has a sink, the old kitchen sink from the main house renovation project, and a drain in the tiled floor. We save pots and trays from plant purchases to reuse. We do not sterilize them. We are lazy that way. Onward.
Moisten the potting mix very well. VERY WELL. Do not skip this step or worry about too much water, it will drain out the bottom of the pot. I use my hands to make sure it is wet, like mixing cookie dough. Hands are the best tools in the world. Fill the pot about two thirds full, tamping down and make a depression in the center with your index finger, about one inch in diameter.
Gently separate the seedlings, pulling the roots apart trying to break as few as possible. There will be some breakage anyway, don’t worry about it. Form the rootball into a shape that will fit into the depression you have made with your index finger and insert it into the pot. Holding the stem carefully, add more moist potting mix around the stem and lightly tamp to secure the little plant baby. Aw how cute!
There were only three seedlings produced from the cross of Elegant Candy and Dave. The label is wrong, it says Strawberry Candy instead. The same Dave flower was used to pollinate both females, Heavenly apparently getting most of the pollen. Lesson learned, use a new flower for each encounter. The other seedlings are the larger Salvia transsylvanica from purchased seed and Erigeron kravinskianus just repotted.
And now the big finish! Sixteen seedlings of the cross of Heavenly Treasure and Dave Rhyne. The other two pots contain more Erigerons. There are bound to be some deaths, there always are. That is why it is a good idea to have extras. These crosses may not result in flowers that even look like either parent, there might be vast differences between them. The plants may not be healthy or vigorous, but both parents are superior daylilies and the mother was listed as a very good female for breeding when the research was being done to begin this project. It remains to be seen what the outcome will be from these efforts. But so far it has been fun and rewarding, keeping us busy with real gardening during the colder months. The seedlings are sprayed with a very weak solution of organic fertilizer every other day or whenever I remember to do it. They will be kept moist but not soggy. The grow lights are set to shine for fifteen hours. A fan runs to circulate the air 24/7. The temperature is cool, warming up when the sun shines and dropping to no lower than 50 F at night, using the heating system of the house with a vent in the ceiling. For more information about the greenhouse/sunroom, click to read one of our earliest posts, here, The Greenhouse/Sunroom . There will be updates when and if there is something to write about, like flowers, someday.
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