Colour charts and the imaginative use of colour

Part  Two  -  Orange breeding


A Daylily Robin posting by Mick Morry  Dec 2nd 2008



Hello Robins,

In yesterday's post I only mentioned somewhere in the range of half the stuff I feel needed to be said about orange. Half of anything is too little so here is some more of the need to know. I hope this helps. Hopefully this should answer any remaining questions.  If there is anything else anyone wants to run past me, give me a shout. I am always there to help or hint where needed.

I have heard this so many times I nearly jump out of my skin when I hear it. "Colour is the easiest thing to breed for so I am developing my ruffles and form first, then will worry about easier stuff such as the colour."

Close, but no cigar!. Colour -- along with form -- are the HARDEST things to breed for. If you want to breed for ruffles help yourself out and go buy a Petit, or a Stamile or any of the other hybridizers known for their ruffles and breed it to your best. Breeding ruffles from scratch, within ones own program, with relying on those that have gone before and produced the ruffles you are looking for is, in my view, beyond counter productive. By the time you catch up where others have already been, you will still be years behind.  They are not standing still, they are progressing, and you never catch up.  Then you can concentrate on what really finishes your flower -- colour and form!

Getting every colour mapped and solidly in the bag , along with getting large flowers or a daylily that looks like string on a stick will always be where the adventure lies. Hybridizers such as UFO Bob, Margot Reed, Judy Davisson, Nan Wilkerson, Jamie Gossard, and Barry Matthie will test the limits of form. Others like myself do some of the form hybridizing but our focus is more on the colour game. Whichever game you are in, these two fields -- form and colour -- are Columbus territory. Colour, form, texture, size, patterns, watermarks are and will continue to be where the true fun lies in this game. Pastels bad, neon good. Keep repeating that in your head next season when you breed and try for that hot SIR FRANCIS DRAKE kind of cross. Gaudy sells!!!! Boy does it sell.

One thing that must be mentioned in breeding with orange is that you must take the contrasting eye colour into account if a cultivar you use has an eye. The formula I am giving you is based on an overall orange flower or a flower that has an orange base with an orange watermark or eye. Things will change dramatically if the orange used has another colour of eye. You must know what colours will come out of the eye as well if the eye colour is different. The orange base will intensify a lighter colour and darken a darker colour. It will not make a light colour dark. For that you must darken, then use an orange to go darker. So use a deep purple or black and then cut an orange to go even deeper black.

You must remember to account for any different colour of eye and realize that a black eye will breed like a black eye, even on an orange. A yellow watermark on an orange will always breed as a yellow watermark should, so it is not the candidate for making blacks. It won't happen in the lifespan of a grain of sand. Eons could go by breeding this and you will only go more bright in base, pastel and dilute in the eye and throat.

So if you use any other colour eye than orange you will be changing the formula of what will happen in the eyezone. A brown eye will breed totally differently from a pink, or from a blue. However the base will always either brighten or darken depending on colour. In dark flowers some will of course go more electric and in fact brighten, however maybe as many as 10% do go darker.

Using an orange with a red eye will change what happens dramatically over one with an orange eye. Lets do an example using cultivars I use and love and feel will illustrate all this painfully easy. Lets take a purple and try to make it go black. The first cross will be an orange with an orange eye. The second orange will have a red eye. The purple will be the same cultivar. Lets see. The purple will be? Got it, we will make it John Peat's ANA MARIE MARGETTS. I know this cross well and most of you know it and have it or at least admire it for what it is--one of the best purples in existence. The oranges need to be spectacular too. Without thought I think the red eyed one will be Bill Maryott's OKTOBERFEST--which is the best tall, round, ruffly , red eyed neon orange in the ground to this date. It is off the charts for sheer perfection. In order to make this interesting we need to complicate this a bit more. You will also need a couple of other crosses as variables so a clean solid orange needs to be added to this example, as well as a dramatic eyed purple --something with a deep eye. I will take EBONY POOLS from Pat Stamile as the Merlot eyed purple base. Lastly the orange eyed orange will be Pat's ORANGE GROVE, and the solid orange will be Dan Trimmer's incredible ORANGE BLOSSOM TRAIL.

So here they are -- let's roll. We will use ANA MARIE MARGETTS and EBONY POOLS as mom. Breed OKTOBERFEST, ORANGE BLOSSOM TRAIL, and ORANGE GROVE to the two purples. What will happen is ANA MARIE MARGETTS will produce seed that is darker than itself with both ORANGE GROVE AND ORANGE BLOSSOM TRAIL. The orange eye and near orange base-(it's close enough)-of ORANGE GROVE will darken close to 1/3 of the seedlings out of both of the purples. Some eyes will go very black on EBONY POOLS kids while others will go deep violet, and some will break out a first generation pattern due to the radical colour differences. Every seedling should come out either red, purple, black, or violet of some hue or another. Mud should not happen. Orange is a clarifier and a cleanser of palette. White works this way too, so I use it as my second most used colour. However the magic is in orange.

Now, for the more complex stuff in the setup that I have laid out -- the red eyed, orange based flower. This orange will brighten the purples in most cases and make grape punch electrics to deep blueberry/grape purples. The deeper the purple you use, the more chance you have of developing a black... this will be rare but it happens and I get a couple of blacks this way each year -- that super real near true black. I have 3 now. I am showing one in my 2008 seedlings out of my Maple Leaf Forever x Ana Marie Margetts cross. I nearly cried when I saw it the first time filled with water in the height of showers with a half glass of water in it's throat. I shook off the water bred it and harvested every pod without it ever not taking the whole season. It didn't blemish other than the day I took that photo the first bloom shown on my site. Orange gave this black the ooooohhmmph it needed to tolerate anything!!!!! It doesn't care if it rains. It doesn't care if it's hot, cold. It's a whatever plant. I don't care what you throw at me.

Now if you know and breed for and collect purples as much as I do you know they have their faults. First of all they blemish easily. Secondly a purple will almost always create a purple when bred to any other colour. You will change the hue but good luck making any adventurous breeding decisions that will bear fruit. The reality is though that magic colour purple needs to meet is ORANGE!

Orange and purple are the ONLY two colours that are unique in being identical in mixing colour in flowers and in paint. The colour spectrum is in fact intact with these two colours. So only the colour bred to it is going to change the situation and mix up the principles of colour that exist in art. Back tracking becomes much easier though. Orange x red does in fact breed orange. Purple bred to pink can make a blue or violet. It's the same in the art world with these two colours mixing them like paint. So the most unpredictable colour in the world now is the most predictable colour in the world. You know how it's going to work on one side of the equation every time. What other colour gives you that comfort zone?.

How ditch lily does orange look now?

You know only 10% of any other colours reaction possibilities when mixed with another colour. Add in that the fact you have to know the colour reaction to both the base colour and the colour of the eye which is always a different colour of hue. Now compound that with the fact that a pattern meeting a watermark will make other colours develop.  A watermark over an eye will make a wilder watermark or in most cases breed a pattern. The more of these variables we learn and adopt the faster the evolution of your line and your knowledge and comfort zone. Orange still leaves enough of that important mystery of what you can get too. You may have more predictability knowing how it works and knowing it works like paint blending, but there will always be the mystery of what it does blended with complex eyes, such as exist in the blue and black eyes being bred nowadays. How do you like orange now? Does it seem less unpredictable now?

Now back to that orange eyed red because this gets deep. The red eye cut to the deep purple eye is going to react just like any red meeting a solid purple.  Red meeting another colour so similar to it in the spectrum also can make a pattern with multiple bands or mascara lines and bands develop. So that eye will go violet, lighter purple and into other hues in the red band. If you have an orange-based black-eyed cultivar meeting either of the purples the eye will go blacker and the base will go more electric. A GAVIN PETIT comes to mind. See why Ted uses Gavin so much?. Look at his purples. Speak for themselves don't they?. Great bright clean colour. Ted already has electric mulberry cultivars happening like BULGARI. It's his natural knowledge of how colour works mixed with his lack of fear of breeding outside the box in colour  that creates these breakthrough plants.

Orange is more of an accent builder than a dominator of colour. It really doesn't breed as much of it's own colour as you would ever think it would. It reacts very much like how a white works. Both orange and white are equally complex hues so maybe this has something to do with how they perform and breed. White is all colour blending into a hue that our eye cannot decrypt without going mad.  So our mind simplifies it and portrays the colour back to our eyes and then to the brain as the non colour that we see as white. You can see white's true face when you stare into sunlight coming down through a window in a white band of light. Sometimes light will hit a white sheet or candle and you will see the pinks and blues that exist in it. Often upon seeing this sort of lighting affect we rub our eyes as they strain or water a bit and you can see spots in front of your eyes. This is your eyes and mind trying to figure out what you are seeing and sort of shutting down for a second. Your body's natural response is to release tears to moisturize or blink. Snowblindness does this too you too. It's not sunlight but the white coming through that perfect lighting situation so that it can be seen ever so briefly for what it is--blinding colour.

The pinks, greens, reds, and oranges become apparent at these times and this is where the truth of how complex colour development is becoming apparent. Colour is the true wonder of the universe. I explained more of this in my Do You Dream In Green article that can be found in the Summer 2008 issue of the Canadian Hemerocallis Society Journal or at Larry Longson's excellent website (
) under Daylily Info where I discuss the complexity of colour and a few other things. If you are serious about using some of the ideas I spell out here and in my last post Part I, then you should probably go to Larry's site and read up on whites as it and orange are so darn similar. I also mention some important things about beta-carotene fighting green throats for green advancement if the orange doesn't have a good green throat. I don't want to go deeper so if you have time check it out and add some of what I mention there to this. It is all interlinked.

I say this because I am starting to think that perhaps the ultimate orange would be a white base with an electric orange eye. The white will breed much the same as the orange would but with even more predictability. Whites are great for electrifying, intensifying, and cleaning up crosses and they bring massive ruffles to the table as a bonus. The eyezone however will be doing a coup d'etat at a geometric level. While the base remains predictable to a point, the variables of what the eye will do when matched with other colours become virtually limitless for variables and fun factor. The orange will blend and fight nearly every colour you throw at it. Multiply colours will come out with many pattern building cultivars being produced. Watermarks are the other aftermath that comes a lot with wild breeding. Along with pinks and whites, oranges produce the most watermarks. A solid orange cut to a white or a pink almost always leaves a watermark in it's wake if some sort of eye action existed before. You can turn any eye into a watermark cutting a pastel orange or a white or pastel pink with those exact right traits. It then moves onto a game of building up branching and other great garden traits that people expect.

Orange x pink:  You will get gorgeous coral tones developing, many that blend or have multiple shades within the petal area. Most cultivars will have several tones going on. Polychromes, and bi-tones will come out of this type of breeding, as well as the rarer reverse deeper toned sepals than the cultivars petal colour will develop. Hotter deeper, richer looking pinks develop. Pinks lose the blemish capability by 2/3rd's of their parents. Colours such as yellows, creams, melons, and oranges with sunset tones mixed with mango colours are the rest of the makeup of this crossing of colour. If you are looking for hot, super clean clarifying pinks and unusual pastel sherbet oranges then this is your route. Cotton candy skies colours come out of this combination.

Orange x white or cream:- The cleaner the white and the brighter the white or cream the more dramatic the resulting neon will be. My friend Bob Faulkner recently said to the robin breeding yellow to yellow is going to give you what? Hmmmm yellow. So how do you get yellows that are unique, bred outside the box and remain the highest quality? Orange x cream or white is that route. My GOLDEN BUDDHA was made out of an orange ROCKET CITY cut to a creamish white BANANA CREAM BEAUTY. Yellow first generation that came from nowhere.  If you are really smart you will line breed as well and the line will be you and so you and unique that others need your plant and come to you rather than spend a half dozen years trying to get a breedable seedling for themselves to work from. This is the essence of good breeding. Create a unique product that others need to use or have, as they cannot replicate it themselves in short order and the early bird does get the worm in this game.

Why tell you all this? Rule 2 of good breeding. Always trust your program and trust that the other guy does not have your breeding stock or you ideas. Even if you have the identical plants you will breed differently. Beyond that there are the variables of what a seedling will throw  -- it is literally endless. You and I could breed the same two parents forever and see thousands of faces and shapes and textures-- as I say, it's endless.

Now, here are some special, special oranges anyone tempted to try the orange route should hunt down. All of them are tetraploids.  Sorry dip folks but I can only promote what I know and know well. Dips are not my turf at all.

OKTOBERFEST-Maryott- This is one of my favourite daylilies of all time and is the best orange ever created bar none. I will arm wrestle any takers that say differently on this one!

LATIN RHYTHM-Maryott again.  Lightning did strike twice. This is another orange that is totally killer. I have been selling it and Oktoberfest to garden admirers of them  since year two of them being here. They grow that fast up here. Latin has a big serated edge. It is an important plant for tooth breeders wanting to spice up the neon factor at the same time.

ROCKET BLAST-Niswonger.  This is a very hot unusual red/brownish red eyed orange red. Super complex colour. A must have.

LAVA FLOW-Smith.  What a fantastic orange!. This is the hottest deepest colour of orange with a true fire hot red eye. You all know what a hot red eye can do. Think Tet Dragon's Eye.

TEQUILLA MOCKINGBIRD-Trimmer.  This is another fantastic Trimmer that will do wonders.

ORANGE BLOSSOM TRAIL-Trimmer.  This is going to be a very important orange. I hope Dan goes mental with this one and goes neon more again. Pastels are evil Dan, EVIL. Covet the orange Dan. Join the light side again. <BG>. Dan is the southern king of neon. I always try to convince him to drop the pastels as his mind is built for making neon. He is gifted beyond belief in this area. I will keep bugging him until I win.

CITRIX-Stamile.  Great watermark on this one and the light sculpted throat is sensational.

HOT MOTION-Faye Shooter.  This is Orange Crush in the light. Congrats Faye. A very important cross for going super neon.

ETHEL BUCCOLA-Trimmer- Another one of the top 100 plants of all time in my list. What a gold edge on this totally finished flower.

ALWAYS A PLEASURE-Rasmussen.  A good old hot dormant that would be just what the doctor ordered for adding dormancy into the equation. This plant never leaves my garden. I will always have a spot for it.

MOMENTS OF INTRIGUE- Peat- I love this plant. Tall, always happy , super fertile, breeds and grows and expands flawlessly and is a bargain nowadays. You need this plant. Awesome seedlings this year out of it up here.

Well, this is getting long (no, let me change that ... it has gotten epically long!) so Ciao all,

Mick Morry

Ottawa Ontario, Canada-AHS Region 4, zone 4b/5, where NOTHING RHYMES WITH ORANGE seedlings -- not sugarplums! -- are dancing in my head!