Well what a difference a day makes. Today I got another email this time from Karen Newman. Apparently everything sent to her has survived and are starting to pop out of the ground. The surprise though was a whopper of a surprise. Most if not all my cultivars sent to Karen last year and the year before have emerged as dormant. It will now be a matter of finding out which ones are photo-period -(Light effected dormants), or temperature sensitive dormants.
After receiving the email with some starter details on my mom and my programs I went to work. I looked over my records along with the records of other people that have some of my plants to see the foliage differences if any. What I found was shocking. I will now study this area for the rest of my hybridizing life, but I have reached some immediate conclusions that I think 10 more years of really focused examination from all my testers and us here at Avalonia will discover definitively.
First example. AREA-51. I named this plant due to it sometimes has an evergreen zipper type edge. It breaks up and zig-zags. It also produced every type of colour, edge, form and many other really neat other traits such as lots of sculpted, creped or poly kids. It really throws the gamut of effects and traits. However now it has yet more mystery to add to it's name. Here is what it is doing around the continent. If you own it or any of my other plants please send me an email with any differences or comments you see. Foliage at the very least would be very appreciated. I want to compile a list of stats on every cultivar I ever release. I intend to write a very detailed report some time in the future and the more opinions and data the better and more decisive the results. So here it is.
Dallas Texas-photo period dormant
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada--My Garden- Sev
Florida-still waiting for data, but in two gardens, soon a third.--But so far sounding evergreen--????
Zone 3 northern Ontario-Temperature sensitive dormant
Tennessee- Karen Newman's garden Delano Daylilies - sev
Ohio - sev
So ya!!!--are you getting this--WOW!!! Once cultivar doing both types of dormancy. It also is going sev for sure--100% confirmed in two locations and what so far has been said to look evergreen in two places in Florida. In other words it is throwing every type of foliage a daylily can have--all in the same plant. This next season should tell the tale for sure with Florida. I believe in seeing the same results for several years with no deviation or change, before I consider anything said and done. Time will tell though--of that I am sure.
So what is going on here. I will tell you what I believe is going on. As a number of southerners I have listened to and taken their advice as gospel have been saying they believed this theory for some years. I wanted to find out for sure, and I think a few more years of the testing is going to be very telling. What is going on I believe is I breed a southern cross every time to a northern cross. I horse trade or buy old dormants to make my own dormant line. I then buy most of my other breeding stock entirely from the south. I breed a dormant to an evergreen or a semi evergreen nearly every time. Or so I thought. Apparently both my mother and my line are tremendously dormant or carrying dormancy that can instantly revert to what it deems the best environmental choice based on how that plant perceives the summer season though the winter. I believe a cultivar is deciding should I go dormant or trust that the evergreen genes will be enough where I am is going on. Some plants planted in too late in the season do not have months to identify just how bad the winter will be. Crosses not planted at an appropriate time or that guess the environment wrong--such as freeze, thaw, freeze thaw are destined to failure or a much less happy beginning. This would also explain why some crosses such as J.T. DAVIS or a SABINE BAUER go dormant in my garden--are slow to increase and establish--but when they do establish become tall, bushy super breeders that become very vigorous given time.
They had just enough adaptability to hold on long enough to adjust to the environment. It can take 3-5 years, but all of a sudden that cultivar that had just enough will to adapt and survive become a happy camper--and may very well instantly change foliage type if it existed in the background of the plant.
So when Larry Grace says he breeds to a dormant nearly every cross you are seeing serious wisdom at work. When Pat says he does most of his buying from the north and likes to add in as many dormants as he can--once again--Vision. And when John Peat and Ted Petit say a plant is sev here and dormant there. Ding, ding, ding. You guys really have it nailed. Theory is becoming fact. What great times we live in.
Based on my initial research mixed with what I am seeing both in the north and the south I would really advise southerners to trade with your amigos in the south and buy from the north and blend them back and forth and reap the benefits. For northerners the exact opposite--reverse the technology so to speak and trade with northerners and buy from the southerners. Look over this list of 23 plants sent to Karen. Look at how many went dormant in the south--yet up here are not. Even a few went sev instead of dormant. They are adapting--very nearly instantly. The decision is being made within 1 season. If the plant gets it wrong it is dead or a pathetic grower and you have another person doing a bad blog on the robin or where ever about a plant being weak or non productive is being slammed. We have been seeing southern plants from Petit, Peat and Stamile go dormant more often than not. Most of Larry Grace's old line is dormant too. Many of Frank Smith's are solid dormants. They only know when we tell them the differences we see. Don't be a stranger. Email the hybridizers those neat differences as you see them. The southern guys love knowing when they have a dormant in their line to maximize their program for survivability coming north. Look at what Pat has been doing with ROCK SOLID. That plant is the definition of dormancy. Look up dormancy in the dictionary and there is ROCK SOLID staring you back in the face.
The more you strengthen your line with both sets of traits--both cold loving genes of the dormants--blended with the evergreen family the better. Now I have to find out if the dormancy in the south is photo or temperature related. I am willing to bet that most will be photo-period dormants. They are rising early and I believe this is the sun moving closer to us and being higher in the sky. The days are again lengthening and this is making them emerge from slumber. That will tell a lot as well and give me and others time and we will figure this all out. I have Karen Newman on our team and she misses nothing!!!
I take photos of all of our seedling beds every year. For the start of the season when they emerge and then again when they go under or die back. I use these photos to help identify what is truly a dormant from an evergreen or sev. I have found this method very useful and leaves no room for error when you register. I highly suggest hybridizers new to the game do stuff like this to keep mistakes down to a minimum. Take enough photos of the beds over the week or two so you see every seedling clearly in the digital photos. With zooming in on the computer you have the ability to see ever plant and nametag. Oh and thanks again to all that sent me photos and comments. Photos speak a thousand words. I would never have believed some of the changes without the photos. I love this game--so many surprises. It's one never ending giant Easter egg hunt.
To me the divide of north from south is ridiculous. We need to blend those two distinct foliages back and forth forever. This is how we give them the best chance of both survival and adaptability to travel the world over and flower as good in Caen France as they do in Baton Rouge Louisiana. The foliage types are chocolate and vanilla ice cream--sometimes you need to blend them together, add a banana and some sprinkles and fudge and you have something so much better than plain vanilla.
Here is the list
Name In Ottawa Canada In Tennessee
1. GLAMOROUS MOUSE SEV DOR
2. QUIRKS AND QUARKS SEV DOR
3. SIMPLY DELIRIOUS DOR SEV
4. AREA FIFTY- ONE SEV SEV
5. PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE DOR DOR
6. MAPLE LEAF FOREVER DOR DOR
7. TWICE IN A BLUE MOON SEV DOR
8. VIMY RIDGE SEV DOR
9. LORD VADER DOR DOR
0. I DREAM IN GREEN DOR DOR
11. HOWARD LEOPOLD MORRY DOR DOR
12. METROSEXUAL DOR SEV
13. POCKET CLOUD SEV DOR
14. LE HAMEL - DOR DOR
15. NOTHING RHYMES WITH ORANGE DOR DOR
16. GROOM LAKE SEV SEV
17. PETTY HARBOUR SEV DOR
18. UN-NAMED SEEDLING - DOR DOR
19. CREAMSICLE DOR DOR
20. SUN MOON STARS SEV DOR
21. THE SOMME DOR DOR
22. MARTHA'S GOOD THING DOR DOR
23. THOMAS GRAHAM MORRY DOR SEV
As you can see a number of cultivars have gone sev or dormant. They have adapted to the very different environment and in many cases they remained the same foliage. Many changed and did a 360 degree turn. To see more dormancy showing up in the south is a real surprise. The old term you can't escape your genes is true. I believe some of these plants have put in play a sort of defense mechanism. The foreign garden was so alien from my own that the plants played their trump card and went right to what for them was the most normal defenses--the ability to go dormant. The plants in question have way more dormancy bred into them compared to southern sev or evg genes, and maybe the weaker less dominant southern genes were not enough to overtake the decision making to go dormant as a defense or adaption route. Animals and plants the world over adapt in such a manner. Why would or should hemerocallis be any different. To quote Jurassic Park--"Life always finds a way".
What surprises me the most is that the natural defense mechanism to go dormant in a less cold environment means something like the plant only had this basic set of genes to fight with and as it's best hand it played it. Comfort feels right so the plant did what felt comfortable and natural. I used old world dormant genes to make up my dormant line. They are tuff as nails Khlem's and Marsh's, and Benz's, and Harris's work. These are the toughest never kill me old world dormants. The dormant genes are 1970's-1980 level of complexity. That is old in daylily terms with a generation every 9 months to 3 years at worst case scenario. That is rapid evolution going on. However these old dormants have less radical and southern blended lines behind them. I picked them for a purpose--to be the Rock of Gibraltar for surviving cold and adapting to whatever winter could throw at me. They have never failed me and apparently they have hidden qualities I didn't initially give them credit for. I won't make that underestimation again. I forgot rule number 4 of good breeding--Always assume that the problem or area you are focusing on is more difficult and complicated than you believed or gave it credit for being. Such a simple rule but one I both made up and have lived by for 25 years of breeding.
Karen Newman, my mother and myself and a few others will now really dig deep into the testing and will run specs on every cultivar and look over the differences and fluxuations--over many future years. Flower size, petal width, height, and much more will now be put under the microscope so to speak.
Mix up the breeding north to south, east to west guys. Force adaption. Do not become isolationists. Be greedy and steal those ideal plant habits and blend them to your own. No country should be discounted. Buy the Australian cultivars and blend them to a good Ohio dormant. Breed your Scandinavian best red to that incredible new ruffly Petit. Breeding with plants made up entirely within your microclimate or zone is going to ensure your plants survive very few gardens outside of your own. Dormants do survive in Florida. They just had to come out of southern stock, blended to that northern dormant. I have lost nothing so far in the south, less SUN MOON STARS, that rotted in Dallas. I will replace that plant to Chris as I believe now that I probably cut or divided it poorly. I doubt it would die again.
To find out Sun Moon Stars is going dormant in Tennessee is such a wonderful surprise. I used it like mad. I used it as a sev with Floridian influence behind it--so it met dormants. Now I have to really look over all it's kids and see how many dormants I have made with it. Just because it isn't going dormant in my garden doesn't mean it isn't breeding a ton of them in my garden. I intend to run with the ball. I will go deep as one can go into proving what I now believe. For me it's in stone. I just have to make sure. Years and evaluating 100 plants will give decisive results. I will keep you posted.
I would really like to see what is going on state to state, country to country and city to city. There are fluxuations everywhere. Anyone that has one of my cultivars feel free to email me with comments on foliage or differences you see from my specs if you ever get a chance. I would love to add them to my bookwork and get to the heart of the mystery. The more data I have the better.
Another thing I should mention is a great number of southern crosses we have bought or been given have become dormants up here. The exact reverse in some cases is happening here. Some plants they call dormants are sev here. Plants really do have a plan of their own and it's up to us to figure out what they like or prefer to how they adapt and perform through varying temperatures and other possible fluxuations. My point is you cannot really any longer bash a hybridizer or a plant based on results from one garden or even a state. A plant may have 1 variable that it is looking for that your garden just doesn't have going for it and it is enough to doom that plant. Your neighbor 3 blocks away may grow it beautifully. Soil, shelter, fertilizer and sweat and hard work keeping your beds free of debris and weeds could effect more than you believe. Walk lightly and carry a big stick. Make subtle changes to anything you do that is different or new and do it with knowledge based on fact not hear say.
Only time will tell if it's mean average winter temperature--light levels--barometric pressure--or what something else completely unexpected is controlling what a plant does and how to predict more effectively its behaviour. It is likely a combination of 2 or more factors, but there is without a doubt a formula. There always is a formula. Based on everything I have seen the right philosophy is the south's philosophy of breed a good northern plant to a good southern plant as often as you can get away with is quite true. No wonder Florida is the Mecca of our beloved flower. Those guys have it all figured out. Even if they don't tell you it or even know it themselves 100%--they are doing it right. Whatever it was--hunch or solid knowledge they are right and we as northerners need to reverse the technology and buy those Peat's, Pickles, Waldrop's, Petit's, Smith's, Grace's, Agin's, Maddox's out there and blend them to our dormants. We need them and they need us. Don't you want your line in as many gardens as possible? This is the route. Bank on it. Adapt or be crushed under the wheel. It is the law of nature and the universe.
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
AHS Region 4-Zone 4b/5-Where daylilies are always on the mind.