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From: "Randy C. Meuir" <rmeuir@mail.coin.missouri.edu>

On Fri, 22 Jan 1999, Linda Mann wrote:

> determination only to grow the ones that don't take fussing over to keep
> going means that only some TB cultivars do really well here.  So I keep
> reading checklists and charting pedigrees to see if I can make any sense
> out of how/why different cultivars behave so differently here and from
> that, if I can predict which newer ones will be most likely to do well. 
> I am especially interested in finding cultivars that will bloom normally
> and grow well following our nasty late winter/early spring killing
> freezes AND finding the few that thrive in well-drained beds with
> interplanted ground cover  


I have not been keeping up with the list well but I noticed your above
statements and I think what you are doing will be beneficial to all
gardeners. Please let us know what you discover from time to time
regarding survivors. In 1995 after being enchanted by the tall bearded
iris flower I made hundreds of crosses. Before I could get the seeds planted I
became disenchanted by the problems of growing tall bearded iris in a
normal (or in my case subnormal) garden setting. Around that time I read a
comment somewhere that indicated rot and other disease problems could
not be bred out of TBs. This comment was included in a discussion which
was meant to warn daylily hybridizers of the danger of breeding with
rot prone cultivars. 

After thinking about these problems and wondering
what my goals should really be as a wanta be hybridizer, I decided the
best thing I could try to do was breed for survivors. I felt to do this I
should kill off nonsurvivors prior to seeing them bloom. I did not know
if I would be able to let a beautiful flower die if the plant was disease
prone. I found that I could let them die after seeing some of my first
selected seedlings (from 1994 crosses-when I was still pampering) rot. 

Regarding my 1995 seeds, I planted up to 30 or 35 seeds in shallow 3 inch
pots. I planted about 5000 seeds and got very good germination. I set the
trays out in the open where they would be exposed to the elements until
late Fall. Most of them were extremely crowded and had to battle for
survival. When I finally planted the seedlings out I planted them in heavy
clay soil. I mulched them heavily because I had planted them so late and
they were so small I was afraid they would heave. I did not line them out.
I just stuck my thumbs into the mass of seedlings and broke it open so
that it would be longer instead of in a circle. I thought this would allow
more sun exposure. 

The seedlings have remained as planted with no assistance. Well over half
had died out by this Spring. None bloomed in 1997. To my surprise bloom
stalks began to emerge in the Spring of 1998. Prior to seeing any of the
seedlings bloom I had decided I would be happy with two really good
cultivars from this group because I would know they were tough. I figured
most of the survivors would be dogs. Most of the seedlings have still not
bloomed under these conditions. I was pleasantly surprised by the ones
that did and selected quite a few for further evaluation. 

The seedlings that were chosen were finally given room to grow in late
Summer and they have really taken off since then. When I moved them they
had from 1 to 4 rhizomes and almost all have already increased well. It
became very rainy for an extended period of time late in the season and
the temperatures were still high. I only found rot in one fan  from a
group of about 70 seedlings. The fan had rotted completely at the base so
I just pulled it off of the rhizome and left the rhizome as it was. About
a week later I was surprised to see leaves emerging from the spot where I
had broken off the fan. It was not an increase but the same fan. This may
be something that occurs in TBs but I had never seen it happen before. 
I do not know what will come of my breeding program but each year I
continue to abuse my seedlings in the same manner. A friend recently
expressed an interest in hybridizing and she asked me some questions about
it. When she discovered it took at least to years to see first bloom and
then a few more years to get enough stock to introduce a good seedling she
exclaimed,"wow, the ultimate in delayed gratification". She immediately
lost interest in hybridizing. I guess this means my program is the
ultimate,ultimate in delayed gratification. Some people have probably
already introduced 1995 seedlings and I just lined out my first selected  
seedlings from that group to evaluate. I hope something comes of this

Linda, I believe you said you are hybridizing but if you are
not you should be. Your goals could be the most important (along
with rebloom) in increasing the popularity of TBs with general gardeners. 
I think the genetics for survival are in almost all (if not all) modern
TB cultivars. Therefore, (this is probably off the wall) I believe that 
the most important requirement in producing SURVIVORS is the seedling  
selection process. And the right mix of genetics could come from most
popular cultivars grown today. 

Please let me know if you have any suggestions or criticism regarding what
I have said.  

Columbia, MO 

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