Daylilies By Clare 
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Favouritres Two   A few daylilies only for sale. Best not to order in hot or cold months.





             
          

               Hybridising    

Updated slightly 2014.  A FEW daylilies are for sale in spring and autumn from me, just click on Favourites or Favourites Two.  Prices?  Click on this line for price list

Hi, my name is Clare Bewsher, and I've been hybridising daylilies in a small way for about 14 years. At the end of my life I will only have registered about 28 daylilies (named  and registered with the international horticultural society).  I give a lot of thought to where I wish to go in my programs.   I've only brought to bloom around  9,000 seedlings  9,000  seedlings is not many, but it has taught me a few things, because I try to pay a lot of attention to what happens in the seedling patch.

Warning:  If you intend to breed daylilies you will end up throwing away 90% of your seedlings (most  seedlings are not worth naming and registering).  So breeding daylilies will actually cost most people money (think of the water bills!).  If you live in the USA, and you have a large breeding program then you'll be in a better position to make a small profit from your hybridizing efforts with daylilies, especially if you get good rainfall in your area.   In my climate it takes 7 years to go from seed sown to a clump size plant that's large enough to market...you have to really love daylilies to want to keep in the game of hybridizing.  I really love daylilies.

CAN I MAKE MONEY OUT OF SELLING DAYLILY SEEDLINGS?    Same answer as above:  Unless you're in a country with a big market for daylilies, and you're willing to sow thousands of seeds each year, then you'll most likely lose money.    And even if you don't want to hybridize, and you just want to sell named daylilies (originally purchased from a  daylily vendor), make sure you check that there's a market for these named daylilies in your state.   I've been asked the question so many times about the possibility of making a profit from selling daylilies, and that's why I'm repeating myself.  Good luck, anyway.

WHAT PERCENTAGE OF SEEDLINGS SHOULD I KEEP?   Some hybridisers say destroy almost everything!  Some say destroy nothing, and try to sell them all!  I keep fifteen out of one hundred each year, and watch them closely for 2½ years.  After that,  I narrow it down to three in a hundred.     Many people tell me that they register just *one* seedling from one thousand, and that is their decision; I reckon that you will often get at least *two* good ones from 1,000 seedlings.  Do believe the hybridiser of your choice when he of she tells you  that you will get only three or four "interesting" seedlings from one hundred seeds.  I did say "interesting", not registration quality.  Interesting seedlings, I believe, can sometimes give you superior seedlings.   Don't destroy all your F1's---breed with the best ones.

HOW CAN I MAKE SENSE OF ALL THIS TALK ON INBREEDING?  I try not to breed together two closely related daylilies.  *Many very knowledgeable hybridisers would say I am worrying  unnecessarily*.  They say that when they make crosses with closely related plants that  they have extensive knowledge of any of the flaws of the cultivars involved in the crosses.  Also, they cull heavily.    In the final analysis, it's up to you: do what you want to do,  and if you can keep the VIGOUR in the daylily, then you've done the right thing.  

Temperament Of Daylilies!!!  I'm glad temperament is not important with daylilies (Grin). With horses, temperament is probably not considered to be important as it should be.    I  made a major mistake in this area.   When I first began to breed horses, I purchased a breathtakingly beautiful appaloosa with the vilest of temperaments  (unknown  to me).  I eventually found out that she would try to kill you if given the slightest opportunity.   How  she had received  awards in the halter classes,  when owned by the breeder  is anyone's guess.  Ah, multi-coloured beauty!  My Rainbow Lovely!  Such grace!  Such form!   Such murder in your heart!  Dazzled by the devil, and a female one at that!   Even our local "horse whisperer" gave up on her.   True, a daylily, unlike my little equine psychopath, can be relegated to the compost pile when all is not right with them.  There is no danger of being bitten (some have teeth)  or of ever being trampled to death by one with "attitude".

By The Way, that filly, who grew to be a mare, came to a bad end.  One day. while stewing in her own foul emotional juices, she  dropped dead!  'Goodbye, My Lovely', as the crime-writer once said.  'Goodbye, My Lovely', as the crime-writer once said, or was that "Farewell my lovely"? The insurance company asked me if I had kept her magnificent coat to hang on the wall.  As I hadn't wished to have any reminders of the whole sorry experience, I was able to answer in the negative. Now that time has past, we laugh about the insurance company's question. Breeding horses wasn't all bad.  I'm, happy to report that we had many delightful experiences.   Now Back To Daylilies:

AT WHAT STAGE SHOULD I DECIDE UPON MY GOALS?   We keep reading about the importance  of setting goals early, or of Focusing.  Well, I  go against popular opinion by saying that it's sometimes very difficult to focus on your goals *early on in the piece*.  I believe that there are many of us who actually  need those first years of looking, listening and learning before we really know which path or paths we want to follow.  Many breeders also advise not to dilute you goals too much.  This last point has been clarified by some very 'cluey' hybridisers who have said:  "Once you have decided what your goals are, it sometimes pays off if you're slightly flexible, without going  off in a dozen  different directions"  (words to that effect).  I thank them for such advice.

DO I START OUT BY JUST CROSSING PRETTY WITH PRETTY?   This has become a catchphrase for many newcomers. I would really be taking into consideration other factors like vigour, substance, bud count, etc. etc.  as well as beauty.   Otherwise, you very well could end up with many daylilies  which were  huge and very  pretty, but had very low bud count, very weak scapes, and were poor growers -- or you could end up with any  number of  other very bad combinations.  UPDATE:   Some small breeders who practiced the "pretty-on-pretty" method  got some great daylilies.  My answer to this is to say that there was some unconscious knowledge at work there.  In other words, they know more than they think they know.  And  I warmly congratulate them! 

CAN I KEEP CROSSING FRILLY WITH FRILLY?     It sounds like a good idea, crossing the newest,  excessively frilled types together to get the 'state of the art' types which are extremely popular.   Be careful here.  If your climate is like mine--- mild,  and not hot like Florida, etc., then you might find that  some  excessively convoluted types do not always open till late in the morning, if at all.  Some super-frilly ones *do* open quite easily.

DO I CONCENTRATE ON GETTING GOOD FORM OR GOOD COLOUR?   The majority of daylily breeders would say concentrate on form first, and you might be better off sticking to the conventional way of thinking.   On many occasions I will work back-to-front:  I look for unusual colour combinations, also luminosity of colour.   Why?  Well, for one thing, I can't compete with the big breeders and their many thousands of crosses, so it might be a good idea to concentrate on something a little different to their lovely pancake style daylilies.    For me, that  something different will *eventually* be daylilies in unusual colours.   However . I do love pancake (bagel) daylilies, with gold dripping from the edges, or with toothy edges.

UPDATE:   On one of the very good Forums, it was pointed out by a master breeder that we should decide upon whether we want to breed "Exhibition" types (big, beautifully-formed flowers, which need a little more care), or good garden type plants (lovely colours, lots of buds, vigorous etc.) or landscaping types (many small flowers, which fold up into unobtrusive "cigar-shapes" when they die.  For me it's GARDEN-TYPE PLANTS.  Large breeders like to breed for two or three of the categories.  Aussies, you will have to join the American Hemerocallis Society to get access to their Forum (cost of membership is around $50--Aus). 

WILL BUYING SEEDS GIVE MY HYBRIDISING PROGRAM A BOOST?   Buying seeds has never interested me a lot,  although I know  many people experience a thrill  when the packet arrives.   I don't exchange seeds, as I only have enough water to bring up my own *pet crosses* to maturity.  Seeds sent to me from another country would also have to go through the Australian customs, alas.  Some people tell me that they have tremendous success with just buying a few seeds, so just follow the path that pleases *you*, and that gives you SATISFACTION.

SOWING SEEDS:  Everyone has a slightly different idea.   I sow mine straight into the soil in this mild climate (in soil in a big pot, that is...4 to a pot).  Some poeple put their seeds in the crisper for a couple of months (especially if both daylily parents are the dormant type daylilies.  There are dormant, evergreen and semi-evergreen daylilies.  Sometimes it can be extremely difficult to categorize they degree of dormancy of a certain daylily (it can vary in different climates).

NUMBER OF SEEDS YOU'LL NEED TO SOW?:
You will reach your goals more quickly than I, if you sow many more seeds than the  500 which I  now sow.  Three thousand seeds per year would be a good *start*, if you are deadly serious about hybridising.
However, if you
*pay close attention* to what happens in a small seedling patch, then you will learn some surprising things!  *Keeping records* of the outcomes of crosses has been a big help to me, and influences the way I make decisions in the future.  Many people have told me that *luck* plays a big part.  I think that *planning* our crosses is more helpful that depending on luck alone----some people disagree with me there.

HOW DO I REALLY KNOW IF MY SEEDLING IS WORTH REGISTERING?
I will most likely be be registering roughly only 3 seedlings per year (some years when water is really scarce I won't be registering any.   Below are the guide-lines for judging seedlings,  which have been given to me by big hybridisers:

Firstly, make sure that your seedlings are growing in good soil, and that you water them well in the bloom season.  If you don't do this, you will get inferior blooms, and therefore, a false picture of each seedling's potential.  Secondly, you could ask the opinion of a friend  who is a daylily judge, or very experienced hybridiser.   Get *two* opinions, if possible.  Thirdly, after a few years hybridising, you will want to make the decisions yourself.  Some people will believe that you should not have registered your seedling, however, if it grows well, is vigorous, and sells well to the general gardening public, then registering it was probably the correct thing to do. 

If our newly-registered seedlings don't sell, then we can try to breed something *better* from them.  Consider the breeding of new daylilies to be an exciting  journey.  If you wish to make a profit from  breeding daylilies, then you should sow many thousands of seeds per year, I.M.H.O.  Again, I must mention that there should be a market in your state for daylilies if you want to make a small profit.

BUD-COUNT?:
Some breeders have told me that they can tell the bud-count of a seedling in the first bloom season.  The bud-count on my seedlings improves in their *second year of bloom*, so I don't toss out a good seedling if the bud-count is *below* twenty.  Some seedlings, and named cultivars don't give a good bud-count until they are a mature clump (3 years old).

Australian daylily forums:  dlrobin-subscribe@egroups.com   or  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dlrobin
Click on the above address to join the Aussie Robin, then you'll be able to  view Aussie's seedlings and pics of named cultivars. You'll also be able to read posts on cultural tips, news of oncoming shows, swap club, group meetings, etc. etc. 


If you join the American Daylily Society (around $48 Aus. $'s per year) you will then be able to join the very large American Robin......very good!

Happy Seed-Sowing.  Clare Bewsher

Seedlings...Examples of what you might get when you cross two daylilies, Click on this line. <not a sale page, just sharing  my photos