Make your own daylily varieties

(NEWPORT NEWS, VA.) DAILY PRESSNovember 7, 2013 

There are 70,000 registered daylilies, according to gardening experts, and no two varieties are alike.

Daylilies need six hours of sun daily; afternoon shade is OK. They do well in most soils - sand to clay - but well-drained soil amended with compost is best.

When to divide them: The best time to divide and transplant daylilies is in the fall. The transplanted plants need water and mulch - no fertilizer right away. If new plants are in pots, they can be planted almost anytime.

In hot weather, they need plenty of water and mulch until the roots have had a chance to expand and become established. Planting newly divided daylilies in the summer can be tricky and if not divided correctly and properly cared for can be severely damaged or die.

How to plant them: Dig a hole deep enough to spread the fleshy roots. Add organic matter. Place the crown - the place where the roots meet the leaves - at the soil's surface; planting a daylily too deep can kill it.

How to select them: There are early-, mid- and late-season bloomers, as well as rebloomers, so choose an assortment so you have daylily color late spring through August.

If you want to try to generate hybrids, you select the plants you want to cross. Crosses must be done with like chromosomes, as in diploids with diploids andtetraploids withtetraploids.

The selected plants have a flower or plant characteristic you wish to improve on. You then take the pollen from the stamen of the flower of one plant and apply it to the pistil of the flower on the other plant.

If the cross is successful, a seed pod develops. When the seed pod ripens, it turns slightly brown and splits open. The seeds are collected, dried in a paper towel for 24 hours and then refrigerated for at least six weeks.

After the cold treatment, the seeds can be germinated and the seedlings planted after the last spring frost. They will then flower the following year. The process can be shortened if one has a greenhouse.

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