Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Tetraploid Program Secondary Layer

Tetraploid Program

Base Plants:

Secondary Layer

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  

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

  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.

In the next post in this series we will look at the tertiary level of my base plant selection in forming my breeding program.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Elizabethan Argus

 Elizabethan Argus

(SDLG# GWCS11-2)

2021 - Reeder - Tetraploid
Great White x Custard Candy
36" scape - 5" flower - 5 branches - 25 buds
Midseason - Dormant - Rebloom

Peach-pink with cerise red eye, lavender-pink midrib and peach petal edges above chartreuse to golden-orange throat.

For a complete list of available daylilies and pricing, click here.

Argus was the hundred-eyed giant who guarded Io in Greek mythology. In the Elizabethan court, Queen Elizabeth adopted many symbols to represent her power. One of those was eyes embroidered on her garments, and you can see this in such paintings as the famous 'Rainbow Portrait'. This symbol was used to imply that Elizabeth (or more correctly, her spies) saw all that was going on in her realm. And when Elizabethan Argus is in flower, it too is covered in eyes and is keeping watch throughout the garden.

A detail of the embroidered eyes on the dress of Elizabeth Tudor in the Rainbow Portrait

A lovely peach-pink with a peach edge and a big bold eye in cerise-red that shines from a distance. Elizabethan Argus was hybridized in the summer of 2011 and germinated that year. It went through all five years of my rust resistance screening, scoring A+ in each year, and it has produced a good number of rust resistant seedlings in my seedling beds. It also shows very good thrips resistance, with good breeding value for that trait. The foliage is beautiful, green and healthy, but it is the branching that really makes it a standout! 


The branching averages five branches, though I have seen up to seven on the occasional scape. The bud count averages 25, but I have seen up to thirty-two on some of the rare scapes with seven branches. As if that were not enough, as you can see in the picture above, Elizabethan Argus shows instant rebloom, creating a long bloom season. I have also seen occasional late summer/early fall rebloom. 

Seedling bed 2015, showing the marvelous performance that Elizabethan Argus has shown from the first year it bloomed

The above picture from the seedling bed in 2015 shows the beautiful peach edge on the lovely peach-pink petals, as well as the great branching

The flowering starts in midseason and lasts for several weeks. The foliage is dormant, but shows no summer dormancy and stays green and attractive until the first hard freeze of the winter, when it dies back and goes fully dormant for the winter. It is also not an early riser, and doesn't tend to emerge during every warm spell that lasts for a few days during the winter.

Stunning in the line out garden in summer of 2020

The fertility is very good for both pod and pollen. Elizabethan Argus is a great parent too. In addition to producing a high percentage of rust and thrip resistant seedlings, it also produces a wide range of bright colors, and an interesting range of forms, many with excellent branching. Below are four interesting seedlings from Elizabethan Argus that show some of the types of flowers, the interesting colors and forms, it has produced.

I believe that Elizabethan Argus is an important breeder for rust resistance and thrips resistance. In the past, one of the complaints about some of the plants that showed resistance was that they were either red or yellow in flower color or they showed poor branching. With my breeding work, a major focus has been to select plants with rust resistance that show and/or can produce a wide range of colors and that have excellent branching with beautiful plants. Elizabethan Argus definitely falls into that category.

Ziggy Really Sang

 Ziggy Really Sang


2021 - Reeder - Diploid
Vorlon Oddity x Ziggy Played Guitar
40" scape - 8.5" flower - 3 branches - 13 buds
Midseason - Dormant - Rebloom

Pink with grape overlay, grape band, above chartreuse to yellow throat.

For a complete list of available daylilies and pricing, click here.

Ziggy Really Sang, and what a song! A huge flower from two of my own introductions, Vorlon Oddity and Ziggy Played Guitar, that is a gorgeous combination of a big, open flower with a blended pastel flower above a big, green to chartreuse to white throat that radiates out onto the petals and sepals. With a gorgeous plant showing great vigor, strong scapes carrying the big, striking flowers and great resistance to rust and thrips, this one really has a lot to sing about.

The flower of Ziggy Really Sang at sunset 

Ziggy Really Sang was hybridized in 2014, germinated in 2015 and went through the last two years of my rust resistance selection program showing A+ resistance both years. The thrips resistance is moderately high. It is a good breeder for both traits.

In the seedling bed in 2017

Ziggy Really Sang is a beautiful plant with nice green foliage that shows good rust resistance and is dormant. The plant is hardy, shows fast increase and excellent recovery from division. I have never seen it die out in the center of the clump and it can form a large clump. There is no summer dormancy.

The scapes are tall and moderately branched and the bud count is moderate, though for such large flowers, that is not unusual. The scapes are able to carry the large flowers without falling over, and I have seen 4 branches and up to 17 buds on a few scapes on an established clump. The flowers are registered at 8.5", but if they are spread out, they are a good bit larger, in the 10"-12" range on some flowers, perhaps even a bit larger in some instances. The rebloom is a nice extra and extends the flower season. I generally only see a round of instant rebloom, but occasionally see late summer/early fall rebloom as well.

The flower is a pink/lavender with a grape eye. To me, the color is pink overlaid in purple. The color is darker in the early part of the day, fading to a more pastel and diffused effect through the day. It is attractive throughout the day and into the evening. The sepal backs show a yellowish center, bordered by a dark streak of purplish pigment on each side, which is then edged by a light border that is ruffled. The flower is attractive from front and back. The flower has good substance and is rain and sun fast. It still looks good at sunset in my garden. While it clearly shows cascade traits, it is not curled enough to register as an unusual form. I would consider it a cascading open form large flower. It can be bred for unusual form cascades with good success.

The fertility of Ziggy Really Sang is very good for the pollen, but the pods are difficult, which is not unusual for such a large flower with a long pistil. I have produced a good number of seedlings from its pollen and the seedlings are beautiful, including large flowers, unusual forms and cascades. Colors are an interesting range and many show the big throat and eyezone band. Ziggy Really Sang is a beautiful tribute to its parents traits. It has Lily Munster as the pollen grandparent on both sides. Trahlyta is also a great-grandparent through Grey Witch and Jocelyn's Oddity is a great-grandparent, so there is a lot of ancestry here with excellent rust resistance.

Ziggy Really Sang is a stunning flower on a beautiful plant that will be a boon to the gardener and the breeder alike. The big dramatic flower is a real eye-catcher with its petals and sepals draping from the tall scapes.

Waterfall Ruffles

 Waterfall Ruffles


2021 - Reeder - Diploid
Impressionist At Heart x Wabi Sabi
38" scape - 5" flower - 4 branches - 19 buds
Midseason - Dormant

Polychrome of cream with peach flush and pink midribs above chartreuse to golden throat.

For a complete list of available daylilies and pricing, click here.

Waterfall Ruffles is a full sibling to Solar Spiral, and this demonstrates the extreme ends of the spectrum of seedlings that both parents can produce. Waterfall Ruffles is just stunning, a stunning flower and a stunning display in the garden. With the pale creamy-peach coloring and the profuse ruffles on the long, curled petals carried on tall, branched scapes with a lot of buds, along with a beautiful plant, Waterfall Ruffles was a revelation to me as to the breeding power of both Impressionist At Heart and Wabi Sabi.

Waterfall Ruffles was bred in 2014 and germinated in 2015. It went through the last two years of my rust resistance screening, rating A+ level resistance both years. The resistance to thrips is also very high and the flower always looks very good in the garden. Waterfall Ruffles shows excellent breeding value for both rust and thrips resistance, making it a valuable plant for the breeder interested in improving these traits in their lines while retaining fanciness in the flowers.

Gorgeous flower, gorgeous scapes, gorgeous foliage. The complete package...

Many of the things I have said about sibling Solar Spiral could also be said for Waterfall Ruffles. Both received numerous good traits from both parents, and importantly, the cross corrected the one major flaw of Wabi Sabi, so that both Waterfall Ruffles and Solar Spiral show strong scapes that, while tall, do not lean or fall over. I can't tell you how happy I was to see this the first year they flowered. I had hoped to correct that problem in Wabi Sabi with the cross to Impressionist At Heart, but you never know what will happen, and things can go wrong just as easily as they go right, especially when you don't have breeding data from untested seedlings. This is an instance where it went right.

The flower of Waterfall Ruffles is unusual and, some days, downright weird. Of course, Substantial Evidence is a grandparent, so one might expect some wonderful weirdness! While the flower is certainly not a normal flower, it doesn't do quite enough 'unusual' stuff, consistently enough, to meet the stringent requirements to be called an "unusual form". It is still not a normally-formed flower, by any stretch of the imagination, and most people would register it as an unusual form. It breeds fully unusual form seedlings when mated in that direction. The color of the flower is delightful. A combination of bone, bisque, cream, peach, pink and olive to chartreuse in the throat, the flower is a wonderful combination of tones that makes it really glow it the garden. The ruffles on the long curling petals and sepals are a delight and are always present. As a parent, Waterfall Ruffles can throw seedlings with tremendous ruffles. I can't tell you how much I love ruffles, and I can't tell you how much I love this plant, its flower, and what it can do in the seedling bed!

I occasionally see folding and pleating on Waterfall Ruffles flowers. Not enough to register is as a sculptural form, but it does happen and I have seen it occur in the seedlings, as well. I think Waterfall Ruffles could easily be used in lines breeding for pleated sculpting at the diploid level.

The plant of Waterfall Ruffles is stunning, with gorgeous foliage. The plant is a hardy dormant that shows excellent increase and vigor. Quick recovery after division is combined with a plant that doesn't quickly die out in the center and have to be divided and refreshed, meaning the gardener can leave it in place for several years, or, because of the quick recovery, divide it often for increase. Combined with the high rust resistance, you have a really good plant for the garden, and because of all these traits, it is also a stellar breeder for both plant and flower.

The flowers of Waterfall Ruffles hold up well to sun and heat, as well as rain, and still look good at sunset, as you see in this picture.

With excellent substance, owing to grandparent Substantial Evidence, Waterfall Ruffles is a great garden plant and passes this great substance to offspring, making for a great breeder, as well.

Waterfall Ruffles shows excellent fertility both ways, and is an excellent parent. I know that some people don't consider these cream polychrome types to be "fancy" and maybe look at them as "old fashioned", but the melon base is the most important factor in breeding clear, clean pastel anthocyanic colors such as pink or lavender, as well as purple, and all the anthocyanic colors are brighter and clearer on a light, diluted, melon base. Of course, I am biased, because the pale melons, near whites and palest yellows are some of my very favorite colors in daylilies, and to me they are the most important of all the colors, both for their ability to withstand sun and heat without heavy damage and because of their breeding ability in making the clearest, cleanest pinks and lavenders (my other favorite colors in daylilies). Every color benefits from a palest melon under color. Beyond that, these pale colors catch light in the garden better than any of the darker shades, and so can be used to accent other plants and to bring more light into the garden in the late evening, as the pale flowers catch and reflect declining evening light until near dark, and where the flowers hold up after dark, they will also capture moonlight, further extending the joy of the garden into the dark hours. Artificial lighting in the evening hours will do the same thing, and isn't dependent on the lunar cycle or the vagaries of the weather. Ruffled Waterfalls is an excellent breeder for producing beautiful colors, gorgeous forms, amazing plants and great resistance to thrips and rust.

Whether you grow Waterfall Ruffles as a garden plant or as a breeding plant (or both) it will bring much benefit and joy into your garden and your breeding program. The many fine qualities of the plant and the flower combine to make a plant that is a step ahead of many plants that might have a flower that superficially looks similar. I think Waterfall Ruffles sets a new standard for garden plants that combine gorgeous flowers with exceptional plant traits and high resistance to disease and pests.

The Darkness In The Light

 The Darkness In The Light


2021 - Reeder - Diploid
Forsyth White Buds x Pigment Of Imagination
32" scape - 4.5" flower - 5 branches - 16 buds
Mid-late - Dormant - Rebloom

Dark maroon with darker cherry-black eye above green throat, sepals backs are white with maroon flush at seams, creating a high contrast effect between buds and open flowers.

For a complete list of available daylilies and pricing, click here.

The Darkness In The Light is from the beautiful and unique cultivar Forsyth White Buds, which I think should be used much more extensively in breeding than it has been, crossed to the illustrious Pigment Of Imagination. The Darkness In The Light doesn't have the color changing trait of pollen parent Pigment Of Imagination, but is does have the unique white sepal backs of the pod parent, and they are lightly flushed with the maroon coloring of the petal fronts.

The Darkness In The Light was hybridized in 2013 and germinated in 2014. The seedling went through the last three years of my rust resistance testing, scoring A+ level all three years. Even before the first flower opened in 2015 the pale buds with their dark flush of pigment were a standout. When the flower opened I was so excited to see the combination of bluish-purple to maroon coloring with the big green throat. As it has continued to grow and flower each year, I have become more and more convinced that The Darkness In The Light is something new and special.

The effect of the pale buds and dark flowers is like a black hole opening up within a white star. The display in the garden is striking and quite unique. I really love contrasting sepal backs, both as buds and when the create a high contrast with the open flower. The Darkness In The Light really pushes this look to a new level.

The dormant plant is very hardy and shows vigorous growth with quick recovery from division. The flowers begin in the mid-late season and there is frequent rebloom. Coming from Pigment of Imagination, The Darkness In The Light should carry the color-changing factor and the bluish colored pigmentation of the pollen parent. I suspect that color-changers with white buds can be created by using The Darkness In The Light with other color-changers. I think that would be really striking.

The fertility is good both ways. The thrips resistance is only moderate, but The Darkness In The Light can produce seedlings with better thrips resistance, and passes it fine rust resistance and interesting sepal contrast trait on to seedlings. These fine traits and the white sepal backs, as mentioned in the previous paragraph, should be very stunning with color-changing and the bluish colors that often come with the color-change. A fine plant for both breeders and gardeners. It is a study in contrast in the garden and can open the door to an array of interesting variations in the seedling bed.