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Hybridizing Daylilies

June 12, 2019

The subject of genetics is fascinating. Will a blue-eyed Daddy and brown-eyed Mommy produce a child with blue eyes or brown? With daylilies you can marry the favorite characteristics of one variety to another and hope to produce your perfect “child.” Daylily hybridizing is a little bit about sex and a lot about science. Jim Dempsey, a Dallas County Master Gardener since 2007 and retired city of Dallas forensics expert lets us in on daylily details.

Jim, did you start hybridizing daylilies in 2016?
Yes, 2016 was the first attempt at hybridizing at Raincatcher’s.

Above: Jim Dempsey talking to Beth Sonier about daylilies at Raincatcher’s.

 Do you use diploids or tetraploids?
 I prefer tetraploids because the flowers are usually larger and better color.
And how do you know which one it is, by the name of the daylily? Usually, when you buy from a grower or catalog they will tell you.  Unfortunately, you cannot cross a diploid to a tetraploid.
Do you have a goal in mind when hybridizing? Larger flowers, brighter colors and longer blooming periods.

Above: Peach Daylily with ruffled edges

Are you looking for a more vibrant color, more ruffles or extended bloom time? Yes, to all of that. We do have a large yellow daylily of interest that that has a long bloom period.

Above: Yellow Daylily purchased by Jim. He was told he could name it and so he did: TBNL (to be named later)

When do you collect seeds? Collect seed pods just before they crack open and then let them dry out before planting.
Do you have a favorite? Merely Mystical – peach with yellow ruffled edges

 

Thank you, Jim, and thank you Starla for the pictures and videos.

Ann Lamb

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