Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Safer cross - part 3

The rest of the longer crosses I made with 33109 involved Desire of Nations offspring (26809, 27809, 15209, 17309) - because of their color, form, scapes, hardy genetics.

I also used it with 9009 (out of 13107) because I love the huge lavender eye. And with 11808 and 22305 (both out of Gnashing of Teeth) - in order to start introducing the possibility of teeth into this line.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Safer bet - part 2

33109 = 36207 x 47607. Although I didn't set out to do it intentionally - I just let the flowers "talk" to me when I hybridize - many of the crosses I chose to make in 2010 with 33109 turned out to be close line breeding. For example, the first 3 pictured below - 38409, 34909, 43509 - are all out of 36207, and the last 3 - 14210, 14510, 17809 - are out of 47607. Before I decide which seeds to plant, I careful review the genetics, and deliberately plant more seeds where there is line breeding. I find that this almost always improves the odds of coming up with the traits I'm looking for.

Safer bet - using a proven seedling

My second most used pollen parent in 2010 was 33109 - pictured below on its fanciest day and a less fancy day. It's out of 47607 and hot pink 36207. A relatively strange result given the cross, but I was pleased to see 47607 giving me strong solid colors in addition to the more typical seedlings with echo eyes.

When I first saw it in 2009, I got really excited and used it on 20 pod parents. Some of the seedlings I got from it are shown below - 13310, 1610, 25510, 11710, 12410, 33610, and 20610.

Because it proved to be such a good performer, I dramatically increased the number of crosses from it, using it on 75 pod parents - this spring I'll be planting over 300 seeds with 33109 as a pollen parent and a bunch with it as a pod parent. This is more typical of the way I hybridize - I'll make enough the first year to get a sampling of a seedling's genetic power, and if it proves itself, really ramp things up the next year. In addition, because I have such faith in 33109's genetics, I will plant almost 100 seeds from one of its offspring - 25510 (the third seedling above).

Monday, March 28, 2011

Rolling the dice - part 2

I'll be planting seeds from 52708 crossed with 100 other seedlings - about 30 of them will be 5 or more seeds, which is a "long" cross for me:-) Most of these 30 are either closely related to 52708 (they also have 40807 in their genetics), or are out of miracle-worker 47607 and its kids, or 13107 and kids (making neon lav eyes) or are out of Desire of Nations breeding (making neon lavender eyes on hardy kids), or Gnashing of Teeth breeding (might as well see if I can get some sharks on this). Ones with related genetics include 34609, 28909, and 23010 (8",tall) below.

47607 is pictured below (pic from Dan Robarts).

14510 is a 7" beauty out of 47607 and a 13107 seedling, 13710 is also 7" out of 47607 and 40807, and 2210 is out of 47607. There are lots of others pictured elsewhere on the blog (1809, 17809, 21709, 35309, 39409, 12510, 18010, 27410), but these will give you an idea of what I'm looking for. Big, fancy, nice eyes - and hopefully not too much tangling.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Rolling the dice

I am a cautious hybridizer by nature. I cross similar colors with each other, related genetics with each other, only plant an average of 3-5 seeds of a given cross on new genetics, etc. Every once in a while I will fall in love with a new, unproven seedling and use it heavily on many of my mamas - but still just 3-5 seeds a cross, and usually only up to 100-150 seeds in total with the new genetics. If the seedling proves itself - like 47607 has - I might increase that to 600 or more the following year (with it and its kids).

This year, for the first time since I began hybridizing in the mid-90's, I am making a huge bet on a new seedling (52708 pictured below). 10% of the seeds I will plant in May will have it as the pollen parent.

So what's so special about this seedling that I would take such a big risk? I saw it bloom outside for the first time in the summer of 2009. It's size and plant habit and fancy bloom took my breath away, and I realized it could be an important parent for hardiness, height and bloom size. This hardy, dormant, first year plant had a consistent 8" bloom, was 30" tall, 2 laterals plus a V with 20 buds, instant rebloom with 3-way branching, still stunning in late August, and killer genetics: 10907 x 40807. 40807 is out of seedlings 4106 x 8305, and has been giving me beautiful, large, hardy kids. See my comment about 40807 on the blog on November 29, 2010. 10907 is out of 4106 x Secret of Contentment. So 4106 has been used twice.

Unfortunately, 52708 may have a big flaw - in its first year its ruffles got tangled up 50% of the time (plus some of the blooms had spotty days - probably from dew). I collected pollen like crazy and later decided to bring it into the greenhouse to use as a pod parent as well - something I have never done before - once a plant is outside, it stays outside until its evaluation is done. It turned out to be so dormant that it lost it's wonderful scape in the greenhouse - but the ruffles settled down. It's back outside now to start the testing process all over again, but I have what I want from it - the seeds:-) In my next post I'll show pictures of what I crossed it with the most. And this year, I'm not limiting myself to planting just 3-5 seeds of a given cross.

My goal? Lots of new hardy seedlings with fancy flowers in the 8" range (other than Entwined in the Vine, most of my seedlings seem to max out at 7") with good height and great plant habit.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Seed sorting finished:-)

During the hybridizing season, I make crosses primarily with my heart (although my head also figures into it, since I instinctively know the genetics of most of the mama plants). I pick a flower that makes my heart sing and then walk the rows with it and wait for each potential recipient of its pollen to cry out "choose me". I know that once the seeds are harvested, I'll be able to use my brain to decide which of them to plant. That's when I pull out all of my books and pictures on the computer and see how the genetics and outdoor performance line up.

I usually sort my seeds in early August, just as soon as I've harvested the last pod. August is not the best time to do it, since that's in the middle of the outdoor seedling evaluation season, so I need to get the sorting done in just 3-4 days and then get them in the ground if they're going to have a chance to bloom in 7 months. I usually make about 2000 pods with about 20,000 seeds and plant about 5,000.

Because I closed the greenhouse this year, I've delayed planting until this May. That's meant I've had the luxury of really thinking through which of the seeds to plant. I did it on and off over about 3 weeks and just finished late yesterday. When making crosses last spring, I made some really big bets with pollen parents, and have chosen to plant seeds from all 105 of them. This is down from nearly 200 in a typical year, but in those years I have also abandoned whole crosses, not satisfied with the performance of their genetics over the summer.

This year I will be planting about 5200 seeds. The vast majority will be from my own seedlings and introductions. 40% of the seeds will come from just 12 pollen parents, including 500 from 52708, 300 from 33109, 250 from 8110, 200 from 13810, 150 from 23010 and 14210, 125 from 28709, and about 100 from 22305, 4110, 39409, 25510, and Desire of Nations. In subsequent posts, I'll discuss why I used each of these so heavily, what I crossed them with, and what I'm hoping to get.