Hi all, following queries on the AHS Robin by someone worried
that the hurricane might destroy her seed pods before they matured,
Mick and I sent her this brief article Mick wrote back in 2007.
It has certainly worked for us -- Mick is green-podding outdoors even as I sent this,
and I can assure you from the tens of thousands of seedlings we have been growing on
that this is an excellent method to collect seed before pods crack and spill seed,
before squirrels and chipmunks and birds steal seeds from open pods etc. etc.
Green - Podding Daylily Seeds
There is no reason anyone needs to leave seed pods on their daylilies till they dry and crack
and potentially drop half their seed into the garden.
And there is certainly no reason for everything to be done in a rush at the end
the season when the weather is awful and collection can be difficult.
This year I harvested just over 35,000 daylily seeds
covering the three hybridizing programs going on at our place,
and not one of the seeds I have now completed packaging and storing
till I plant them next spring
collected and shelled at the time I took the pod from the parent plant.
I GREEN POD everything we hybridize on our property.
Over the last two to three years I have relied on green-podding
– the removal of seed pods from the parent plant while the pods are still green
and the seeds are close to maturity --
to ensure that the seeds we get from the crosses we made
actually make it into seed packages and aren’t spilled,
whole or in part, in the garden.
Let me explain what I do.
I harvest seedpods while they are still green
once they have reached what I consider to be full maturity.
This is usually within the 30 to 40 day range after the pods have been set,
and long before they reach the point where they start to brown.
Before I collect any pod I “touch test” it to determine if it is ready to be harvested.
Pods that are starting to develop a few brown spots and have gone
from the rich green you associate with growing pods,
are starting to fade or turn yellow are ideal candidates for green-podding.
I remove the pod from the parent plant, and pop the pod
into individual little plastic cups you often get
if you order a single egg roll and get a small amount of plum sauce.
Some of you probably use them already for drying seeds,
once harvested. Our little cups -- bought through the wholesale supplier
used by close friends who own one of Ottawa's best Chinese restaurants
-- serve two purposes. Under the pod in each cup is a piece of paper
identifying the pod and pollen parents. Once the pod is opened
the seeds from that cross will go in over the same identifying paper,
in the little cup while the seeds dry before packaging.
Once collected, the pods are lined up by the hundreds
on recycled bread trays (used to carry loaves of bread to grocery stores),
and brought into the house where the trays are stacked for days,
sometimes weeks, till I am ready to open them.
I also harvest whole scapes where I am certain that the pods are all mature.
Occasionally there may be a pod or two not quite mature
while the rest are, but this is not a problem,
my green-podding method takes this into account as well, as I will explain.
When I collect scapes I cut the scape a foot or two below the pods,
being careful to ensure I don’t cut any portion of a scape carrying a proliferation,
and then I immediately identify the plant the scape is from by writing
the host plant’s name on a quarter section of a sheet of paper
and pushing the scape down through the middle of the sheet.
The pollen parents of the individual pods are, of course,
already identified by the numerical code wire e use to identify pollen parents.
All scapes should be harvested as they begin to dry
they go dark brown and start to shrivel.
I NEVER put scapes in water to ‘mature’ the seeds.
the surest way to rot everything.
The whole scapes that I have collected in this way
are laid on their side in a pizza box, or most often,
on more of the bread trays to continue drying
till I have time to begin opening the individual pods.
We were lucky to get these trays when a local business closed down
and told us we could take what we wanted of them because
they would otherwise be going to a landfill site.
the entire lot home with us.
I have a 'feel' test that I use when I am ready to open pods.
I want to be reasonably sure that the seed inside is black and ready
to be collected before I fully open the pod. Basically I want the pod to feel a bit spongy
and soft to the touch. That to me is the evidence I need that the pod is ready to harvest.
I take my scalpel and make slight cuts on the rib lines at the top of the pod,
just enough so that I can crack open a section of one chamber and peer in
and see if the seeds inside are black and mature.
If they are, I carefully use the scalpel to open the pod
(being careful not to cut deeply so I don’t cut and kill viable seeds)
and then I take the collected seeds and put them,
with a paper identifying the parentage of the cross,
little plastic cups. I open hundreds of pods a day in this manner.
If when I open the corner of the pod I see white, or seeds that are partially white,
I simply push the outer part of the pod back into place,
put the cup back on to a tray and let it mature some more.
Usually I will give it another week, just to be sure.
And then the next time I look at the pods I have put aside in this way,
and I crack them open and see the seeds are now black,
out they come, bouncing into the cup with that
clink of a hard, good seed. It's wonderful.
All crosses that I harvest are recorded in a seed register we keep.
Each day’s harvest is recorded by date, cross and number of seeds.
Very often my mother does the recording while I do the opening
and it is like Christmas for both of us as we open pods
and record the number of seeds we have gotten from
potentially fabulous cross after another.
Once harvested the seeds are air dried in their cups, on the trays.
Though most people say you only need to dry daylily seeds for a few days,
I have again been defying convention and I dry the seeds for weeks.
This ensures that all the moisture that can initiate mould
once they are packaged and refrigerated is out before they are packaged.
I have found that it takes those well- dried seeds only a couple of extra days,
once they are planted and watered, to plump up and burst open and begin growing.
The evidence that this is so is seen in the 20 boxes of seedlings
out this year from last year’s harvest.
Note: For the record this is the 5th year we have used this method here at Avalonia (2007)
and the proof is found in the many thousands of seedlings
are growing on all over our property.