Friday, May 21, 2010

Building Better Daylilies

This will be my first attempt at writting a blog so please bear with me as we find our way. We have such a great hobby, that we can have a few plants all the way up to several acres. Several acres is the direction we intend to be going. We have several thousand plants now and with each bloom season and setting of seed pods we will add to our plant count. Jack Carpenter told me years ago it is all about selection as to where we end up. As we look at pollenating different daylilies we are changing the genetics of the plant and not only the blooms but also the plant. From the root system to how large of a plant we want to what kind and how high we want the scape to grow.
Lets talk about genetics in plain terms and not out of a science lab book. What you can see is Dominant, what you cant see is Reccessive. When you breed 2 plants of solid colors and get lots of eyes, then the genetics for eyes was reccessive (hidden). But do the eyed plants breed more eyed flowers, only by breeding and seeing the next generation will we get the answer. Lets use Blue Eyes as an example. Lets breed these 2 plants with blue eyes together. Out of say 20 seeds you get one blue eyed seedling but it only has 5 buds. The other seedlings are all different colors and some have eyes but no blue eyes. As you compare this row of seedlings some have a good bud count and others have less than 10 buds. Now here is your dilema, do you go with the pretty flower or go with the ok flower that has lots of buds and a sturdy scape. BALANCE of the plant is what we are looking for.
Have you ever seen a mini with a 1 1/2 inch thick scape. Its not going to happen. Why? Because a small plant usually has a small root base and cant support a heavy scape. But on the other hand i have seen lots of big plants with thin tall scapes that when the wind blows the scape will either break when the flower gets wet or on a windy day it gets laid out. BALANCE is what we all want for our breeding program. And like Jack Carpenter said it all about selection!!
If you are breeding daylilies for the first time and never attempt again then this blog doesnt pertain to you. If you would like to see if you like hybridizing daylilies then you are the person that i would be talking to. I am no expert and have never registered a daylily but i do know what i like and how i am going to get there. I have talked to lots of people that sell daylilies for a living and have good knowledge about what they are doing. I have also done slide shows for daylily
clubs and their new members hadnt bought their first daylily yet. We all have the BIG EYE where all daylilies look good, i mean lets get excited right now, just breath and visit gardens and look at pictures till you settle what you like. Dont be afraid to ask questions but ask them of someone that knows the answer.
We are just starting to bloom here in Wooster, Arkansas and as my excitement grows as more blooms open each day, the nights seem to get longer waiting for the next morning so i can see what God has allowed me see and through HIS BLESSINGS we keep that fire going for that next perfect bloom. Jim Elliott


  1. Your blog looks great,Jim. Interesting post and so is your profile. Happy Gardening!

  2. Hi Jim,
    Glad to see that you are now "blogging." I will be interested to see your progress in Arkansas. Your posts suggests that you have had a good relationship with Jack Carpenter. I regret seeing Jack retire. Looking forward to seeing you grow some of those big flowers that Jack was famous for.
    Bill Waldrop

  3. Jim,
    Glad you have joined the fray. Hopefully we will all learn something from each other. Good Job.
    Lee Pickles

  4. You're off to a very good start. I enjoyed this post and the scape picture. But...when I imagine four acres of daylilies, I also imagine four acres of weeds and no time to get them all out. I also imagine more seedlings than my brain can wrap itself around. You must have more active brain cells. Send me a few if you can!