Do You Dream In Green? 

(First published in the Canadian Hemerocallis Society (CHS) Journal, Summer 2008 and reprinted on this website with the permission of the author) 

(Mick Morry, Manotick, Ont. Canada) 

The quest for a green daylily is a long and weird story with many angles.   While it is probably the most difficult colour in daylilies to achieve any advancement in it is still one of the least bred for colours one could breed for--yet one of the most coveted.  Few people are working on this colour and twice as few people are talking at all on hybridizing for it.  This lack of building and compiling knowledge is keeping us rolling forward on square wheels.  So letís shave off the corners of those old bumpy wheels and smooth out the ride and explore all the angles of going green. 

Green 101: 

When you are breeding for green you must understand that you are breeding for excessive chlorophyll.  You are breeding for seedlings that have as much chlorophyll in the throat as you can get and as little colour in any other colour range other than chlorophyll.  You must then breed the greenest throated seedlings to other green throated seedlings or cultivars you bred or bought to one another--doubling up the intensity and size of throat size and intensity each generation.  This will be explained later on, but know that if you are breeding for green you have just committed yourself to breeding with the most green throated cultivars one can breed for or with.   

Using anything yellow or orange throated is beyond counter-productive in this game.  It will be detrimental to your program and set you back at least one generation for any cross mixed in with yellow or green base either in the throat or expanding out of the throat.  You need as much green as possible and green over yellow throats need to be bred out and become solid green until they reach the overall flower colour.  You want as little yellow in the throat as possible.  Orange throats must be entirely avoided as they are beyond dominant at coming back and the Beta-carotene is hard to breed out.  The use of anything orange must be used only if the orange cultivar has a green throat -- something rare in orange daylilies, especially cool, deep green throats. 

If you are as serious as I am about getting green then you cannot ever compromise your program.  Every seedling that ever gets selected or bred better have at least some green in its throat, preferably a lot of green if you are looking for serious advancement. 

Where Does chlorophyll Come In?: 

When we are breeding for green we are trying to remove all other hues less the chlorophyll chemical/protein that gives us the green hue-- or convince a yellow hue that it needs to go chartreuse--and advance onwards with the progeny in our hybridizing program.   We may still need to employ other chemicals and proteins that provide hues in flowers, and maybe Beta-carotene--(the chemical/protein behind the orange and yellow range, and possibly Cyanidin -- (the chemical/protein behind pinks and reds could be important to use.  We may also need to employ the use of the chemical protein Delphinidin -- the purple, black, and brown range.  We could need the absence of colour and need to breed to as white a flower as we can get with absolutely no green throat or very little green in the throat over a white base such as WEDDING GOWN (Frank Smith), or we may need the greenest throated pure true white to get the job done.   There is the chemical Lycopene that is behind peach, fleshy, melon, and all the other colours in between orange and pink tones.  Who knows what chemical balance is the right formula.  What we do know is green is in so many other species of flowers the world over that itís possible.  Knowing you are not on a foolís mission is at least somewhat comforting.   

The Mysteries Of Colour : 

This is the fun of this game and herein lies the mystery.  So letís look at the angles now and see if we canít round off those wheels for a few of you.  The quest for green will take years of dedication to achieve, and more discussion back and forth is needed as green is not coming instantly.  It will take work and the blending of many ideas as well as many hybridizing programs back and forth.  Somewhere with the blending back and forth of the appropriate lines will come that green.  Figuring out the right lines and direction is the harder question.  There is no way of half telling what needs to be done, so I wonít.  Before we got wiped out in orchids green was our most bred colour in orchids.  I have incorporated everything I have learned in green orchid breeding with what I have learned in 7 years of daylily hybridizing and the similarities are remarkable between the two.  So do as I am doing and cast a wide net and keep an open mind because some of the theories are different to say the least.   

Green Edges:  

Everyone is into green edges these days, including obviously myself.  There is a large list of them out there and they all seem to have the same problem.  They either are not green when they leave the greenhouse environment they were bred, grown and photographed in--or they last only a small amount of the day and heat and rain turns them yellow or gold.  Mine donít last pass 10 am in full sun and neither do other lines that I have seen or been told about.  The goal is to breed a green edge as dark and prominent as the deepest darkest green throat.  Results so far are very mixed.  Some flower edges are thick and a chartreuse.  Some edges are thin and olive green such as mine are so far.  Some edges are dark at the edges and fade fast to the overall average petal and sepal colour of the flower.  They all vary differently in their own way, yet they all have the same flaw--colour loss especially to heat and sun.   

The theory is that we can take an edge and make it as large as we can and hopefully meet a green whatever seedling to it down the road--that will fill in the missing gaps.  People are trying to breed say a 1 or 2 inch green edge that can then meet the greeny based and expanded throated cultivars and eventually meet in the middle.  The hope is that the 1 inch edge will meet within an inch or two of the expanded throats.  This can be expanded upon and eventually the edge will meet the green throat that is in reality an eye at this point.   It is a sound plan, but it is in its infancy at this point and it will take the 10 years it took eyed cultivars in other colour ranges to become as big as they are now.  This needs to happen to green expanded throats.  We need to invent green eyes in other words.  

Holding The Green Advancement We Get :  

I believe we need to marry plants that are waterproof as they hold the green throat all day no matter what gets thrown at them-- and then work from there, breeding them back and forth.  These water proof cultivars need to meet the green edges and expanded green throats to keep the green active in them until the flower folds--well after dark.  Breeding with extended and nocturnal flowers is also potentially important for keeping green throats.  Most of these flowers in my garden hold the throats.  That is the route that I have been going with my line so far to see if I canít make the edges stay and be colour and heat fast. LESLIE RENEE (Pat Stamile) is one of the better ones that I particularity like and use a lot for breeding for dormant green edges.  My green edges are out of his SHORES OF TIME, a sib to LESLIE RENEE, also heavily used, and my own SUN MOON STARS, and my motherís CANADA DAY. 

Dip To Tet Route:  

There are lots of very green throated and green cast daylilies out there.  The only problem with them is only the eyed cultivars keep the throat intensity.  So breeding a dip spider with a green throat and converting it is going to only bring less than stellar results.  Very few conversions do justice in the green throat and coverage that is green once converted is often reduced and colour can go yellow or white or a softer less bright green.  If a really good green dip is produced I believe that in conversion it will lose so much green that it will take years of crossing solid tetís that have that solid green cast or throat or great green coverage at them-- to recapture what was lost in converting the dip.  My greenest results are always in tets.  

The green can be twice as clean and bright as a diploid or a conversion.  I used to think differently but then I started looking at past dip programs that had the same focus as my own at only working with the best green throats they could and their lines never came close to tet green intensity I am seeing now in our tet line.  Tetraploids are a much better route for going green as can be.  Dips with the double set of chromosomes might be easier, but no matter what they will need to meet a tet at some point to become all they can be in green.   

The best use of diploids for the purposes of going green is to employ converted stock that have superior green throats that can almost compete with tetraploids.  Cultivars like Tetra PEPPERMINT DELIGHT or Tetra WAXEN SPLENDOR, both from Jack Carpenter, are examples of this.  For solids I would like to see Jamie Gossardís GREEN INFERNO converted and put into use.  Maybe it can hold its green once converted.  So many hopeful green dips have gone to white and yellow-throated faces once converted.  Only time will tell if this is finally green enough to avoid the loss of green in the conversion process.   

Where Tetraís Could Be Most Important: 

In the meantime, I think crosses like Carpenterís above-mentioned cultivars with their massive green throats that expand outwards to the lower mid area of the petals and repeats heavily on the sepals might be very useful.  TET PEPPERMINT DELIGHT survived the conversion process and came out with a fantastic throat.  The only problem with dips is the throats never go darker than a mid-range neon green.  In my book they are very bright clean chartreuse --nothing like I am seeing in tets.  I have seedlings in tet that are so dark green they make you feel cold to look at them.  I also have the hot green, foggy green and yellow based greens.  It will take a blending of who knows which type to gain progress.  I am banking on the cold green ones myself. 

Green Casting Over Flower Surfaces:   

Every once in a while someone gets a white, yellow or pink flower that has a very green cast to it.  Unfortunately this cast rarely if ever lasts past noon even in a colder northern garden.  However this trait, like anything, can be improved upon and when you find a cultivar like JADE GLOW, TET EMERALD SPLENDOR or GREEN MYSTIQUE (all by Pat Stamile), or BIG MAC ATTACK ( Smith/Grace)-- you need to run with it and try the different methods of  expanding upon this trait.  White would be the most logical route to continue to take it, but we know pink and yellows have shown great greeny casts in the past,  VERDANT GREEN and GOING GREEN ( both Pat StamileĎs) are some examples of this.   So they cannot be discounted  -- nothing can or should be discounted in this game. 

Green Throat Ever Expanding: 

For this you must simply breed the best and biggest of green throats back and forth.  You must then incorporate them with the best greenest based cultivars.  Itís a long shot, but weirder things have happened.  At the very least you will have a dreamy throat program at the end, something nearly everyone likes when they see them.  You should seek out and breed to the big Ufís that have monstrous green coverage.  They most often have a pattern that is green or yellow based that eats up sepal surface that can be improved upon.  A full form with blunt sepals, heavy substance, ruffling and rounder form can make the Uf look go away within 1-2 generations with intelligent breeding.  So if you hate unusual forms then you only need to deviate ever so slightly before you get the full form look back.  Blunt round short sepals are key to re-obtaining the full form look. FROGS EYE (Pat Stamile) is a good one to hunt down and use for cutting to full forms. 

The White Game: 

Whites with a very green edge and throat are where I think green is going to come out of.  I believe however that it will take the other methods meeting it to do this.  I am convinced that in the end the pod parent that makes a real green will have been out of multi-generations of white line breeding.  Using cultivars such as WHITE CRINOLINE, INIMITABLE, (both from Pat Stamile), GRANNY SMITHíS SURPRISE (Brent Ross), GRANNY SMITH (Frank Smith) are some of the cultivars that bring a unique set of traits that we need to optimize on.  I think this route once again will win out and show us the best results due to white is all colour and in being all colour it lacks any colour.  It is one of the wonders of nature.  I believe the lack of colour is paramount for letting Chlorophyll do its work.  

Forcing Yellow To Go Green:  

Every year I think we get closer and closer with this method.  There are a lot of very near chartreuse flowers out there and the number is growing.  Now they are developing the green edges and large green throats I feel need to be married to such a colour range if green is going to be made a possibility.  There are good examples of this.  IRISH SPRING SONG (Ted Petit) is one that is in the green edge territory and greeny cast yellow turf as well.  Itís becoming a sounder and sounder route every year, however I think that white is still king.  STROLL OVER HEAVEN (Frank Smith), BUTTERCREAM (Oscie Whatley), LEMON ELECTRA (Pat Stamile), JOY FILLS MY HEART (Bill Waldrop), PETERBOROUGH (Lorraine/Lycett), are good picks to start with and work up from.  

Reverse Colour:  

Now this is the weird stuff.  I have a theory that like everything in the universe that opposites attract and that maybe the opposite colour is held within the exact polar opposite.  In nature everything has a direct total polar opposite.  So what happens in daylilies when opposites meet?  I aim to find out.  This method is giving us the possibility to reverse the colour or at least optimize on it.  Itís thin I admit, but thin sometimes works and leads to the only route.  Red is the opposite colour of green in the colour spectrum.  So far one of my best green edges is out of red breeding and all my most dramatic throats and sepal eyes are on either a red or a purple.  So I use purples too.  Orange is the opposite colour of purple making me use orange a lot.  I believe itĎs all interlinked and no one colour is going to be enough to get it done.  Green is such an advanced complex colour that it will take the blending of many colours, if not all colours, such as exists in true pure white.   

What Makes White A Hue And Not A Colour: 

White has so many colours in its makeup that reproducing it in reality extraordinarily difficult because it is a colour so complex that it has become colourless, and is considered a shade or non colour hue. Our eyes canít see these ever- so-slight colours but supposedly there are yellows, pinks and blues working in a colour band that our eyes cannot see beyond.  So our eyes lessen the stress of figuring it out and see white as white.  White is such a complex hue that it can make us go blind looking at it for any period of time.  A TV camera left filming a snow bank will go snow blind and need a complete overhaul to get it working again. Snow will literally burn a lens of a camera out.   

There is a real mystery behind white and this is why it will become so important in getting green.  Green exists in white -- we just canít see it. Interestingly black is made up of a number of colours too, making it a colourful yet another supposedly un-colourful hue, if you know what I mean.  It takes blue and brown, red and green to make a proper artist quality black.  The quick route is mixing prussian or indigo blue to burnt umber or another very dark brown.  Now this makes a blue-toned black.  Adding in red and green seals the deal and removes the blue tone, making a more convincing black.  Red to green makes brown so you are mixing between the two colours that make black in nature by altering how much blue and how much brown Ė and by playing with them in the exact right true mix Ė you end up with a true black.  So to breed black you need to have the colours red and green, making brown, cut to the prussian blue, thus going black.  This is how colour works in art and in nature and it is only a matter of time before we understand how to mix a flower colour in the same manner we do in paint. 

White is un-copyable to mix from scratch in your artist paints.  It must be bought.  It is the only colour an artist canĎt make.  We can come close, but we canĎt quite do it.  Water colourists have used the white of the paper to avoid this for hundreds of years until the price of white paint came down and became affordable.  White is still the most expensive colour in artist paints, followed by black and then the cadmium colours which are more pure and high quality as well as permanent.  They are always red, yellow and orange for the cadmium colour range.  The cadmium colours actually carry a little radioactivity in them.  Even in todayís modern world science tells us white contains all spectrums coming together into that blinding non-colour, yet in art we donĎt believe so and call this false -- proving the book isnĎt fully written on what constitutes a colour, what makes a colour a colour and how is white really made.  Maybe it has to have all colour as we canít mix it from scratch properly but I doubt it. There is more as usual to it and I believe the artist thoughts of complete absence of colour.  

Whichever book you believe it means that white is a very important hue.   

Colour theory becomes very important for knowing what makes what tick and how to mix colours in flowers like paint.  Even when you know the colour combinations the genetics of all the parents of the cultivar come into play and traits and colours you never knew were there can show up in future seedlings.  At the very least breeding with opposite colours is keeping me unique and giving me neat surprises.  Try it out for yourself and see what you come up with. 

Stealing Green:  

Stealing green is as simple as it sounds.  You must rob green throats, green casts on the flower surfaces, green sepals or edges where ever you see them and keep blending them back and forth to the other methods.  This way you have yet more chances at getting greener and greener throats and coverage in the process.  Remember green builds and builds.  It is like the Fujima scale.   

Each yearís properly bred seedlings very nearly double in their colour intensity, clarity, size and how dramatic they become. Frank Smithís SMILE AGAIN has a massive green throat that can be optimized as well as Dan Trimmerís wonderful PARROT JUNGLE.  Throats such as these need to be played with to see if you can in fact expand upon throat size and colour intensity.  Time will tell if this is a sound route, but trying it shouldnít be considered a waste of time as at the very least you will have incredible green throats.  The greener the throat the cleaner, brighter and better the surface colour in both sepals and petals.  So itís beneficial no matter what. 

Riding Watermarks: 

When I made my first serious watermarked daylily now named AREA FIFTY ONE (Morry 2006) I started breeding it to the most green throated cultivars in our garden.  Some of the seedlings took on massive green throat area coverage.  I have seen great results in its kids cut to pinks, purples and reds so far, and my whites are definitely my absolute best for large green massive throats.  Breeding a green throat to a large white or at least pale watermark seems to have the ability to either ride over the watermark or overtake it and become an expanded green throat over the watermarked area, much like a green eyed cultivar should look if it existed.  The throat becomes so big that it is almost in the territory of being called an eye.  Itís just a matter of time before the throat does become big enough to be officially considered an eye and not a large expansive throat. 

Why Breed For Sculpting?  

You should breed sculpted, carved, raised or pleated within the midribs to the throat area a lot because the sculpting drags green throats.  The larger the area of sculpting, the larger the area that can carry the green along with it extending from the throat. Sculpted flowers are also heavier is substance and are the basis of getting water proof and sun proof flowers.  These flowers have the ability to hold green throats.  The greener the throat the better the chances of getting improvements in your line and the cleaner and purer your colour will be as well-- so double the reason to breed for this trait.  

The 3 Points Of Light:   

The 3 points of light are the 3 bright green or white bars that are coming out of a high centre position of a throat.  They ride the midrib of the petal region and sometimes can ride the petal surface all the way the tip of the petal ruffles.  This is a pattern developing.  It is in its absolute first generation at this point and at the most juvenile stages.  These green barred or lined developing patterns around the throat areas are usually very green and dominant breeders of large green throats.  They can be as large as a golf ball on some of these.   

This may be an important route in getting the eye zone to go all green eye. There seems to be an abundance of chlorophyll in these seedlings.  Itís another new route, but one that could be key in getting full green coverage since I believe we need large eye like coverage of green -- just as we see in massive eyed cultivars such as CALLING ALL ANGELS (Dan Trimmer).  We need to get a green throat that goes eye and expands across the petal surface and covers 90% of the petal surface.  The half inch green edge and separate sepal program would then have to come in play and be cross bred to this type of seedling and you should have a green eventually. 

Bi-Tones And Polychromes:  

By now you must be realizing that you are trying to make a Frankenstein monster.  It really is going to take this to get green.  You need to make giant green edges that eat up 5-10% of the petal surface.  You must meld a green throat so large that it becomes an eye that meets this edge.  You must make sepals that are solid green and blend the bunch.  So bare minimum you have 3 programs in play and if you are like me you are working all the angles.  This is neat turf to be working in.  My earliest successes came out of bi-tones and polychromes.  Bi-tones and polychromes have sepals that lack just about any hue.  They are so muted compared to the normal petal surface that they look very chalky and near white.  For some reason the chalky white base coat reacts similar to how white works when bred to green or how a solid white watermark absorbs green to great effect. With proper breeding you can make sepals go green within the polychrome and bi-tone lines.  It is just a matter of finding that right combination.   

Atmosphere, Rain, Heat And Temperature:  

The orange and red and pink colour lines have shown me the most dramatic results in getting massive green eyes on the sepals and cool large green throats.  So red is truly becoming another large contender to use, at least for improving sepal eyes and throat clarity.  Let alone that they too have green edges appearing more and more.  I have an ever growing supply of seedlings with large green eyed sepals starting to develop in my program.  My others bred out of orange cultivars like I DREAM IN GREEN (Morry 2006) and SIMPLY DELIRIOUS (Morry 2006) go solid green several times a year in the sepals with total sepal coverage.  They look like Irish Spring soap.  So far I have not seen other programs where this has happened so I can only mention my own results.  Seeing as it is working for me I think others should try their luck at it.  Usually this happens to these type of seedlings on overcast and rainy days.  So green is showing it is temperamental to both moisture and barometric pressure as well as light levels and heat --two things we already knew.  I knew the later for quite some time, but the prior are new to me and seeing that this working makes me feel this is an avenue we all must investigate some more.  

What Wonít Work:  

What will not work is to breed within just one of these directions of hybridizing and not be open enough to try employing other colour ranges and ideas as well as focused deviation within your line.  This means you better be open to changing your direction at the drop of a hat and moving in a direction that may not be your colour range.  You may be forced to breed just solid colours and abandon eyes or watermark breeding--you never know.  You must be open to anything and be willing to follow the program and let it guide you as much as you are trying to guide it.  A program works at its own pace and forcing seedlings along faster than they should or green housing compromises how much true green a throat has to what a green edge looks like outside of a green house and so on.  Forcing seedlings along will lessen how much green a cultivar shows its first season.  Here in our cool northern garden, most seedlings donít show the true level of green until their 3rd year on.  

The variables are immense and you must be open to anything.  When you see that dramatic seedling that is an advancement in green you must then pick which one of the above routes is the right route to go.  If youíre smart youíll employ four or more of them and see where the chips fall.  Believing you can breed it all within your own program would be a very big mistake too.  This is a tough colour and it may well take hundreds of programs worth of cultivars meeting back and forth to get that solid green. 

What Is It Going To Take To Get Green? 

I figure it is going to take somewhere in the vicinity of around 10 years or more to see green really start to show its true colour.  People thinking itís coming faster will be in for a bit more of a wait than instantly or in the next 3 generations sort of thing.  We need at least 6-12 more generations that are blended perfectly.  The chance of getting it absolutely right in less time would shock me if it happens.  The reality is we need to get it exactly right by breeding the truly best options together to make it work.  It is close though, and completely possible sooner if someone gets that instant breakthrough.  I have seen the greeny dips out there and by 10 a.m. they are yellow.   

Green coming out of them is not as close as people are either thinking or saying.  However we are so close, so jump on the band wagon and get at it.   

You very well could be the first breeder of a true solid green.  No one at this point has a clear advantage over anyone else so it truly is a level playing field.  Hopefully this article, which I have been writing in my head for the past two years, has just levelled it more. 

Mick Morry

Avalonia Daylilies, Manotick, Ont. Canada

29 June 2008 

Addendum:  This article was written prior to the 2008 bloom season.  Since then we bloomed the most green edges ever in our first bloom seedlings.  Our throats continue to become greener and greener and several are becoming huge.  We flowered another sib to METROSEXUAL that is being named GRASSHOPPER (already pre-registered), that I believe will be the future of my ever-expanding green throat program.  I now have some of the edges that have green action going on in them and they were bred to Grasshopper and all the other logical crosses.  I also got an Area-51 kid and another f2 crossing of I DREAM IN GREEN that has a green edge, misty green mid-ribs and under coat petal base and greenish sepals.  So the programs are starting to blend and are being intelligently bred to what I think are the most important colour ranges and cultivars.  Nothing is being overlooked.  You cannot afford to over look any aspect in the colour inventing game.  More on my continuing saga in an updated article in a year or two! 

Mick Morry

29 Sept 2008