Thursday, January 13, 2011

Planting daylily seeds

Sprouting Daylily Seeds

Ted continues to be dedicated to managing a hybridizing garden and producing and growing the highest quality of tetraploid daylilies. We have been able to increase seed sprout to almost 100%  by using a combination of Jungle mixture soil and 2" Jiffy pots. Bill Waldrop and Larry Grace were very helpful to us when researching this issue.

The new planting procedures have definitely paid off, and while one always worries about reaching a plateau in one’s hybridizing program, this year has proved to be the most exciting year for breaks to this date. 

Many people have asked us how we sprout our seeds and plant our baby seedlings. In fact, Norman Hughes just called us this week asking about it, so we thought we would go ahead and post a blog on this very subject.

As soon as the seed pods ripen (begin to crack open in mid-summer) the seed pods are harvested and the parentage of each pod is written on a plastic tag which will remain with the seeds until they bloom. The seeds are then removed from the pod and  placed in a zip-lock bag. We make a dilute solution of Banrot (approximately 1 tbsp. per quart of water) and place the solution into a squirt bottle. Some of the solution is squirted into the zip-lock bag, sufficient to cover the seeds with the Banrot solution.  The seeds are then placed in the refrigerator for a three week period to break their dormancy. They are then removed from the refrigerator and planted immediately. We have used many ways of germinating seeds over the decades, however, we have found the following way to be the most effective.  We purchase 2" square Jiffy peat pots.

 Then we and fill them with a planting mixture which we purchase from a local garden outlet such as Loews or Home Depot. We have tried many types of soil mixtures including Faffard mixes, Black Kow, topsoil, etc. .We have had the greatest success with very coarse mixtures of Jungle Growth.

 Since Jungle Growth appears to change their mixtures without notice, at the beginning of each planting season, we buy one bag of each of their mixtures and try them each with a limited number of seeds to see which one one gives the maximum germination.  There are surprising differences in the germination rates of daylily seeds in the various mixtures. Once a mixture is decided upon, the Jiffy pots are placed in support trays and filled with the potting medium. The medium is then  compacted. 
The trays are then soaked with a  solution of one half  the recommended concentration of Banrot, Subdue and Peter’s 20-20-20.  We soak the trays with the same siphon hose technique we described in our previous post on lining out plants. We have found that higher concentrations of the fungicide stress the baby seedlings without improving germination. The seedlings are then planted in the medium approximately 1 ½ “ deep (along with their accompanying parentage tags) and the trays stacked in an air conditioned area. The room temperature is kept at around 76-78 degrees. After approximately 10-12 days, the seedlings begin to emerge and the trays are moved outdoors. The trays are placed under 60% shade cloth to keep them relatively cool during the early days of germination and growth. When the trays are placed outside, they are again saturated with the dilute fungicide/fertilizer solution described above. After this time, the seedlings are watered daily and given a dilute fertilizer solution 3 times per week. 
After approximately 2 weeks, the seedling trays are exposed to full sun and are ready to be placed in the ground.  Prior to planting, all seedling beds are tilled and top-dressed with a mild fertilizer such as 6-6-6, 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 as well as the recommended application rate of Nutricote. The beds are then covered with black ground cloth. Slits are  burned into the ground cloth with a hand held propane torch, to create rows 1 ft. apart. .The ground cloth is used for weed control. The seedlings in their peat pots are then planted through the slits into the ground every 4 inches. Following the planting, all seedlings are watered in heavily for approximately 3-4 hours. The seedlings appear to benefit from light shade for 1-2 weeks when planted in black ground cloth. Thereafter, all seedlings are put on a routine watering  maintenance schedule with liquid  fertilizer application 3 times a week.. In Florida, the vast majority of the seedlings will then bloom in the Spring.