Hybridizing Hemerocallis

Hemerocallis seedling:  'Daring Dilemma' x 'Apollodorus'
Hemerocallis seedling

Just for fun, I tried  hybridizing my own daylilys.

Hybridizing Hemerocallis is the easiest thing in the world.  Get out there early in the morning, just as the pollen ripens, grab a  pollen-filled stamen from one variety, dab the pollen onto a pistil of another variety, and in a few weeks you have a seed pod filled with new varieties, each one unique.  Let the pod ripen, then plant the seeds, most of which will germinate and grow.  If you are in  a cold climate, you'll have to wait until spring for the seed planting, but here the seeds easily sprouted and grew in autumn.

Hemerocallis seedling: 'Daring Dilemma' x 'Apollodorus'.  Note it is different from the first cross, even  though the parents are the same.  Each seedling is unique. 
Hemerocallis seedling

It helps to mark what pollen you used.  I did the simple thing by using pollen from a single variety for all my crosses.  The only complication, which isn't much, is the 'ploidy-ness' of the variety--the number of chromosomes.  There are diploids and tetraploids; tetraploids have extra chromosomes.   (To add one more complication, some daylily pollen can be both diploid and tetraploid.)    For successful fertilization, you must pair diploid with diploid, tetraploid with tetraploid.

Daylilys for sale will often list the ploidyness, which shows you how many people out there are hybridizing daylilys:  a lot.  There are methods for changing ploidyness, involving irradiation(!) or a chemical called colchicine--best left to the professional, or to true fanatics.   

Hemerocallis seedling: I like this one! 'Clothed in Glory' x 'Apollodorus'
Hemerocallis seedling

Hybridizing daylilys is a cottage industry.  There are a lot of hybridizers out there producing a lot of daylilys, most of which look very similar.  A few hybridizers rise above the rest by producing real innovations--new colors, double flowers, unusual textures.   If you intend to be serious about it, you need space--several acres at least, and a specific goal or vision to winnow through all the many crosses that are very similar to what has already been produced.  Hybridizing is about the numbers.  The more crosses you make the more chance you have of producing something special.

Hemerocallis seedling:
Hemerocallis seedling
 

My few crosses were for fun and self-education.  I wanted to better understand the work involved in hybridizing.  It gave me an appreciation I would not have otherwise had, and more tolerance for the flaws of a cultivar.  It's harder than it first appears--not the actual production of seeds, but the necessarily ruthless pursuit of perfection.   The hybridizer must kill off all of their plant-babies but the perfect few.  Of thousands or hundreds of thousands of crosses made, perhaps a half-dozen are commercially introduced.  They may not be perfect, but they are the best of the best of the best.  Vision, labor, and thought went into them.  And love! 

Hemerocallis seedling:
Hemerocallis seedling

'Clothed in Glory' x 'Apollodorus'--note how this one is different from the other with the same parents:
Hemerocallis seedling

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