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AR: Growth Habits

From: Sharon McAllister <73372.1745@compuserve.com>

Lowell Baumunk wrote:

Our short season seems to work pretty well in giving us productive well 
proportioned clumps the second year.  I don't claim that Colorado is the
place to grow arilbreds.  They do better in New Mexico, but when the
cooperates (no bud freeze), our second year beds can be very nice.

I'd really like to hear more about the performance in year 3, 4, 5, etc.,
if arilbreds are left undug.  [Although I've reached most of the goals of
my original 40-year plan, one of the hazards of hybridizing is the tendency
to come up with new theories that cry out for testing.]

I've done a lot of experimenting with test beds left in place, to see what
can be grown without annual division and have observed a great deal of
variation among the different types.  I've finally settled on three basic
factors:  dispersion, rate of increase, and maturation rate.  

From my own experience with gardening in Oklahoma and New Mexico, I know
that climate affects the latter two.  Conventional wisdom has it that a
longer growing season is better, citing the relative success of commercial
gardens on the Pacific Coast.  Studying old hybridizing reports, however,
I've come to suspect that a shorter growing season is sometimes beneficial
and can actually moderate the biennial tendencies of certain cultivars.   

Take, for example, the group with tight growth habits, a strong tendency to
increase and rapid maturity to bloom.   This is the type that made
annual-division the accepted procedure. I've found that onco cytoplasm is a
strong predictor for this particular combination of traits, whether a
particular cultivar is 1/2 aril or more than 1/2.  Left in place here,
these may not even survive the second year.  If they do survive, there's
rarely any second-year bloom.  Sometimes they may recover enough to bloom
the third year, but performance is well below that of the first year and
few of my experimental clumps have even survived to the fourth year -- much
less bloomed again.   Many years ago, there was a hybridizing robin with
strong interest in obtaining reblooming arilbreds.  This was the type most
preferred as the 1/2-bred parent, in hopes that when crossed with a
reblooming TB some of the resultant 1/4-breds would also be rebloomers. 
I'm not in a position to test the theory, but --  would a climate with a
growing season long enough to support reblooming TBs and short enough to
promote better performance of this type of arilbred be conducive to the
production of reblooming 1/4-breds that could handle a wide range of

Another example:  Open growth habits, moderate tendency to increase,
moderate maturation rate [IOW, some of this year's increase will bloom next
spring but some will not.] I've found that regelia cytoplasm is a strong
predictor for this combination of traits. A test bed of such 3/4-breds,
left undug for many years, has given regular, stable bloom -- the closest
I've come to the traditional plant-'em-'n'-forget-'em culture of the
old-fashioned "flags".  But in a colder climate would they increase more
rapidly?  Bloom at a higher rate?  Even become invasive?

Soooo......   Do you have observations to share concerning how the
different types of arilbreds perform if left in place for more than two

Sharon McAllister

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