The secondary layer of my program consists of modern, hybrid cultivars from other hybridizers' programs showing "fancy" flower traits (i.e., traits that are not expressed in the species forms) that I have used in establishing the basis of my own program to bring in the fancy flower traits and combine those over the species and species-like base plants discussed in the previous post in this series. To become a secondary level plant, these cultivars must meet certain criteria, as follows.
- Extremely good plant traits
- Either resistance to or breeding value for resistance to such pathogens as rust and/or thrips
- Good expression for one or more flower traits not seen in the species
- High breeding value for the plant traits and flower traits
- Good fertility both ways, with good pod fertility preferred (or at least the ability to produce pod fertile offspring)
As with most things in life, there is probably no plant that would check every box, and so all selection is a series of compromises. As well, while a range of cultivars might technically fall into this category, I would say that there are both(+) level and (-) level secondary plants.
In the (+) level is plants with all the bells and whistles, good breeding value for the traits and is a plant I would be willing to use for inbreeding (backcross their own seedlings, cross seedlings with each other, etc.) The later level is only realized because the plant was so good that I have tried backcrossing its seedlings to it, the results were good and not disastrous. Such plants are a rare jewel. There is to date only one secondary (+) cultivar in my tetraploid program.
In the (-) level, these are plants with many of the bells and whistles, good breeding value for their desirable traits, but are plants that, for whatever reason, I would not backcross to, or at least have not had any reason or desire to do so to date. This may be that they lack resistance and breeding value for either rust or thrips resistance, or that there is a fertility issue (usually with the pod fertility) and there is low-to-no breeding value for pod fertility. Sometimes it is due to a flaw such as unattractive foliage, poor branching or late freeze susceptibility. A trait that isn't a flaw, but is still something I don't want to increase in my program, and so won't backcross to a plant showing it, is evergreen foliage.
Most secondary plants are neither (+) or (-). This means that while I have not used them in inbreeding of any kind to date, that is due to just having not don the tests, rather than knowing that I would not want to use them in inbreeding scenarios.
I must say that very, very few daylily cultivars have made it into the secondary level. The secondary (+) are a tiny minority and represent what I consider to be exceptional plants and breeders. As I said above, to date, there is only one secondary (+) cultivar in my tetraploid program, while there are, maybe, a dozen secondary cultivars in my program, with about half being (-). Below is a slide from my 2018 Monday Night Lights presentation that discusses the secondary layer of my program.
In the section below I will list some of the plants that have made it into the secondary level of my program.
First and foremost, we have to mention Solaris Symmetry by Nate Bremer of Solaris Farms. This plant has it all. My favorite daylily cultivar I have ever grown, the best tetraploid I have ever grown and one of the most important breeders in my program - the crown of the secondary level. Solaris Symmetry is the only secondary (+) cultivar in my tetraploid program as of this writing. There are only two flaws, and both are minor - less than great rust resistance (B level) and lower pod fertility than I would prefer (though still pod fertile). However, Solaris Symmetry has breeding value for both traits and I have a good number of highly rust resistant seedlings and quite a few very pod fertile seedlings from Solaris Symmetry, so neither of these flaws knock it out of its position.
Of the many good traits that Solaris Symmetry possesses, it is the amazing plant traits that set it apart. Having been introduced in 2009, there are certainly plenty of fancy daylily cultivars with more extreme flowers - bigger edges, bigger green throats, larger flowers, but that is just details. Solaris Symmetry has everything it needs in terms of the flower - clarity of color, fancy non-species color, a nice green throat, near-white melon-based petal coloring, quite bluish lavender colored edge/eye, and occasional patterning. It breeds well for all these traits and can produce seedlings showing more extreme expression of all these traits.
The plant though is simply a dream. With strong, so-called "hard" dormancy, no summer dormancy, gorgeous green foliage that is resistant to late spring freezes, the plant is just stunning and extremely suited to cold-winter climates. However, it can survive and thrive quite far south. The scape is gorgeous, well-branched, plentiful and with lots of buds. The behavior of the plant is exceptional as well. The plant shows fast increase and vigor, cold hardiness and durability. It can be planted and left in place for many years, continuing to show great increase while not dying out in the center or loosing its high scape to fan ratio.
It is THE ideal plant, for my goals, and I can't tell you how happy I am to have found it. Ironically, it was one of the first near-white bluish-lavender eyed types I bought in 2011 when starting my program. I bought it because it was dormant, the right color and was not terribly expensive (as so many like it were at that time). Interestingly, I have since grown many of those near-white, bluish-lavender eyed types, and none were as good as Solaris Symmetry. It is also an ideal flower, and most importantly, it is an exceptional breeder for all of its good traits having the ability to breed better seedlings, including for both rust resistance and pod fertility.
The Alien DNA Family
This fine line from Bob Selman has been important to my program. While I have worked with many individual cultivars from this line, the two that are permanent parts of my program are Alien DNA (progenitor of the line) and Alien Galaxy. Both of these are secondary level in my program and I would consider either for backcrossing, though as of yet I have not done so. Many good traits, including high rust resistance, good fertility and nice plant traits.
Insider Trading, deriving from David Kirchhoff's fine red lines through Forever Red, this plant shows gorgeous red coloring and extremely good rust resistance, with breeding value for both traits. While it is an evergreen, it shows very good late freeze resistance and does not show serious damage in severe winters in my garden. In addition, it can breed some dormants. The fertility is very high both ways, and it is a very pod fertile mother plant. The thrips resistance is not great, though better than in many reds, so for that reason and the evergreen foliage, I have never used it in backcrossing. I consider Insider Trader an important base plant, but a secondary (-) plant in my program based in the evergreen foliage and the low thrips resistance.
Chicago Apache is a wonderful older cultivar with very good red coloring and very good rust resistance. It gave me some very useful seedling early on, and is one I have grown for decades and was breeding from a bit before I started my 'official' breeding program in 2010. Chicago Apache has many good traits, but the foliage can get ratty, and for this reason I wouldn't backcross to it. A secondary (-), but still important in laying the foundation of my program.
This post is not meant to be a long page or an exhaustive exploration of this level of my program, but rather is simply intended to introduce the concept of the 'secondary level base plant' within my program. Below, I will take the image from the top of the post and speak a bit about the plants shown in that image, which is from my 2019 Monday Night Lights Daylily presentation from the Facebook group of the same name.
In the slide above you can see most of the plants I have discussed above (only Chicago Apache is not included in the slide). There are also a few other plants, and all have been important in establishing the fancy flower traits in my base program.
Pacific Rainbow is half sibling to Solaris Symmetry through Mystical Rainbow. Mystical Rainbow is also one of my secondary level plants, as is its important ancestor tetra Janice Brown, where many of the important traits in Solaris Symmetry ultimately derive, including the "hard" dormancy traits, late emergence in spring and late freeze resistance. Pacific Rainbow is a wonderful plant and gorgeous flower, just a notch under half-sibling Solaris Symmetry. However, I have not to date backcrossed to Pacific Rainbow. That is not because I think there would be a problem, but just because I haven't done it. However, I have many very good seedlings in my program with Pacific Rainbow as pollen parent. Pacific Rainbow is a little more pod difficult and a little less rust resistant that Solaris Symmetry, though it has good breeding value for both traits.
There are three cultivars in the image that may make it into the Secondary (+) level, but haven't yet, because I haven't done any backcrossing yet with them. They are Women Seeking Men, Thumbthing Special and Butter Cream. These are all three very good plants and beautiful flowers and I have many very good seedlings from all three. Time will tell, but they are firmly secondary level plants, even if they never make it to the (+) level. I would say that these three have moved out of the (-) level already.
Whooperee and Small World Hip-Hop Music (as well as Spider Man) are all exceptionally thrips resistant, but have issues on other levels that have kept them from moving up to the (+) level and have kept them in the (-) level. However, they have all three produced numerous good seedlings that will carry them forward as ancestors in my program. Rosy Complexion and Tetra Siloam Medallion are both good plants with many good traits, but both have flaws that to date have kept them in the (-) level, though again, I have many good seedlings from both.
I still have new cultivars from other hybridizers that are in trial and may in time become secondary base plants (of either - or + levels). Only time and continued breeder work will tell, and that is the point. The base plants of my program have not been determined by a pretty picture, or how long the teeth are, or how much pattern is in the eye (or how much the cultivar cost), but on what it does in the garden and in the seedling bed. Only plants that excel in both can make it into this level of distinction within my program, and by approaching building the base of my program in this way, I have stacked the deck in my favor toward producing not only beautiful flowers, but plants that are also exceptional - a cut above the rest.
In the next post in this series we will look at the tertiary level of my base plant selection in forming my breeding program.