By Harland Merriam, February 2008 (updated June 2008)
Excerpt from http://gulfcoastdaylily.org
I'll admit I am a relative newcomer to hybridizing compared to the likes of Jack Carpenter, or the Stamiles, or the Trimmers or others. Dan Trimmer and Matthew Kaskel of Florida have mentored me with some ideas about hybridizing which I am applying here in Southeast Texas.
1. SET A CLEAR GOAL
Both Dan and Matthew were very assertive in demanding that I determine what my goal was in hybridizing. They asked about plant qualities and flower qualities and other very specific objectives. I realized, as I have in other parts of my life, that if I don't know where I am going, I am not likely to get there.
My goal: I will hybridize high-percentage polytepal daylilies, both diploids and tetraploids. My objective is a highly rust-resistant, evergreen daylily that will tolerate the heat and humidity of Southeast Texas. This foliage on this daylily will be upright and well-formed, a vital blueish green color and will multiply at a moderate rate from year to year. The scapes will set flowers above the foliage, with several branches and 16 or more buds per scape. The plants will rebloom.
I have chosen to allow rust to remain active in my garden and do not treat it. This allow me to subject all my seedlings to rust and see which ones are resistant.
2. SAY "NO"
In order to say "yes" to the above goal, I will be ready to say "no" to many, many new cultivars that do not achieve or advance my movement toward this goal. I will simply not have the time or the room to spend with plants that do not move my efforts in this direction.
3. START WITH GOOD BREEDING STOCK
Doing good research on those who have already advanced in the direction of my goals and choosing cultivars which have the kind of genetic predisposition to take me toward my objective is important. I have collected over 30 polytepal varieties, including some of the most recently developed. Dan Trimmer reminds us that the most important element is color. Color, color, color! He recommends picking cultivars that have the absolute best qualities -- fans, scapes, buds, branching, vigor, spacing of flowers, and outstanding blooms. Choose parents with great flower color -- pure, deep, lasting, crisp, bright.
4. KEEP GOOD RECORDS
One of the keys is good records of pod and pollen parents and of seedlings. I keep mine in a clipboard notebook, with notes taken throughout the growing season. I also use the software "Flower 2008" to keep records.
To read the rest of Harland's article, including: his tips for growing seedling in pots during the first year, his seedling soil mix, and tips for tetraploid hybridizing in hot weather, please click here.