I've decided that the daylily season is too damn short. It starts late here in zone 6, and I happen to get VERY little rebloom or increase under my growing conditions. Even on STELLA DE ORO.
Yet there's potential for a four month long daylily season, on the same plant, from mid-May to mid-September here in zone 6. In my garden, the species start in mid-May, and a small number of lates and rebloomers continue into October. Rebloom is consistent on a few varieties for me.
So I'm working on EE Re near-white daylilies. And, being conscientious, I want them to have good foliage until frost, be hardy, thrip, rain, sun, and mite resistant, colorfast, open well, increase rapidly, etc. If I start getting close to any of that, I'll worry about adding pretty faces and other colors: that might be easier than getting the former. I'm not very interested in branching or budcount: continuity of bloom might come from that or multiple scapes.
I was a plant breeding major at Cornell, so I have some useful background. But I'm being tutored in the specific background for daylilies by Bob Sobek and a host of other notables in Region 4. In addition, I've had some terrific conversations (mostly by phone) with Darrel Apps, who also breeds for rebloom.
My initial strategy is to cross near-whites with EE rebloomers to obtain an F1. Crosses among the F1 will hopefully move me closer to my goal. If (unlikely) both were simple recessives, I'd see strong results in the F2 (second generation.) I've got a two year to first bloom schedule, starting plants under lights through the winter. If I get into our local group's greenhouse program, it will be one year, though I won't know about bloom season or rebloom till the next.
Hardiness is an important issue: I'll be crossing predominantly dormants onto southern evergreens or semievergreens for my F1. I've got F0 dormant whites and recurrents, and F0 southern whites and recurrents. Selected seedlings will be exposed to rigors of a few choice zone 5 or 4 gardens of my friends. (When I finally have something to expose. :-)
Longer term, I'd like to push the season significantly earlier than Stella while retaining the rebloom. Towards that goal, I'm crossing some whites with the earliest things I can find, and will later cross my F2 and F3 with the earliest things. Also, eventually I'll attempt to add some color besides white. I'm making a few crosses of purples and pinks onto rebloomers for eventual crossing with F2 and F3 near-whites.
My first cross bloomed in 1997: MONICA MARIE x STELLA DE ORO. Ugly results exactly as I expected, but some of the 7 that bloomed were EE nocturnal, as I wanted.
I've also been recruiting named varieties and seedlings that meet my F1 criterion, such as SAGAMORE BOB PELLETIER and SPRING FROLIC. Bob Sobek also has a large number of seedlings which fit my F1 criterion, and I've gotten pieces of his older ones, and pollen of his newer. Anybody with other suggestions, please let me know.
Principle F0 for EE rebloom used so far:
STELLA DE ORO HAPPY RETURNS (Apps) THREE SEASONS (Sobek) PENNY'S WORTH (Hager) several unregistered Sobek seedlings with strong rebloom
Principle F0 for white used so far:
MONICA MARIE WINTER WONDERLAND (Millikan) SNOWED IN (MILLIKAN) DEICER (Millikan)
Principle F1 used so far:
IN STRAWBERRY TIME (ROSE CHERUB * STELLA DE ORO) (MONICA MARIE * STELLA DE ORO) SAGAMORE BOB PELLETIER (GENTLE SHEPHERD * STELLA DE ORO) SPRING FROLIC (HAPPY RETURNS * BROCADED GOWN) Sobek 82.4 (WHITE FORMAL * STELLA DE ORO) SUNNY HONEY (STELLA DE ORO * BROCADED GOWN)
Bill Potter has provided me with a large number of recommended F0 and F1 variety names and seed from the F4 generation of his northern rebloom breeding program. I've got 100 seedlings of his so far. Gus Guzinsky also provided much very helpful information. And I found out about Martin Kaminsky's breeding program for rebloomers, and purchased a fair number of the varieties he strongly recommended.
This year, I have a great deal more breeding stock to work with. Besides the above mentioned material, including my own seedlings, and local offers of pollen from the most recent hybrids (from Judy Sweeney at Daylily Heaven), I've obtained many more whites, rebloomers, and F1's,
F0 recurrent choices of most interest:
ELFIN (STOUT 49) GRECIAN PEARL (Kamensky 95) LEMON LOLLYPOP (Simpson 85) assorted older Guidry EE's
F0 white choices (roughly 44 whites, creams, or pale pinks) of most interest:
ABSOLUTE ZERO (Millikan 86) ALL AMERICAN BABY (Stamile 95) BIG SNOWBIRD (Millikan 90) CAJUN QUEEN (Gates 95) CAR. DAVID ELKINS (Talbott 94) IOWA LADY (Spalding 95) LITTLE INFANT BABY (Monette 81) SWISS MINT (Reilly 94)
F1 choices of most interest:
FRAGRANT TREASURE (Apps 95) (BROCADED GOWN * HAPPY RETURNS) Kamensky Sdlg (GRECIAN PEARL * MAY MAY) Mahler seedling (STELLA DE ORO * LULLABY BABY) 60 buds! MALINA (Kamensky 91) ((STELLA DE ORO * PINK DRESDEN) * UPLAND) my own F1 seedlings, about 20 relevant crosses.
If anyone has suggestions for F0, F1, or F2, I'm all ears. And if you've come up with something from your breeding that's got potential for me, I'd love to get a piece of it.
I should start seeing scapes in a month, and be in heavy bloom in two. I'm very excited about this season!
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