Favorite Orange Flowered Bulbs

DaveKarn@aol.com DaveKarn@aol.com
Sat, 20 Mar 2004 07:25:48 PST
Ken, et al ~

The color Orange and lilies seems to be synonymous.  Orange also occurs in 

Now, orange is a funny color as it seems to be one that people either like or 
dislike on sight.  With respect to these two genera (I know next to nothing 
about South African, etc., genera, as my interests lie with these two), I'd 
have a few comments.  

Alas, I don't really know that much about the physics of color either, but I 
won't let that stop me!  So, if I say something that doesn't ring true, you 
know who to blame . . . !  Orange, as a color, can be approached from two sides 
of the spectrum -- red or yellow.  Thus, I suppose the color orange is some 
mixture of these two.  Of all the varying shades of orange occurring in lilies 
and daffodils, there doesn't often appear to be a balance, as (to my eye) there 
is usually more of one color than the other.  This results in not the perfect 
blend but varying degrees of garishness that is often unpleasant.


There are few daffodils that I would say posses a true orange.  Somewhere, I 
recently read (I think in a contribution to this thread) a comment with 
respect to determining how/when a the color moves from gold to orange (as a sidebar, 
the RHS color chart helps enormously).  And this is often the dilemma with 
many daffodils.  Indeed, some of my favorite trumpet examples are a concolorous 
deep, brassy gold that borders on orange -- very different from the mundane 
yellow of so many.  Linda Wallpe (and others) mentioned a number of "orange" 
perianth daffodil hybrids.  While these are most interesting -- if only because 
they represent such a marked departure from the typical yellow or white 
perianth -- they're not really orange as I would describe it.  Incidentally, two 
additional ones of this genre are 'Sunstroke' (bred and registered by a physician, 
wouldn't you know it!) and 'Warm Day.'  They represent state-of-the-art of 
the type and are really quite dark, especially when they first open as they can 
honestly be described as "jaw dropping."  The latter has better color 
retention in bright light, although there are no sunfast examples.  This 
amber-reddish-orange color is overlaid onto the base color of yellow and, as the darker 
color begins to fade at maturity with increasing exposure to ultraviolet, more of 
the yellow appears.  Paradoxically, and frustratingly (perhaps), protected 
from bright sunlight, the colors can be intense.  So handled, the flowers make 
stunning show exhibits.  Interestingly, those Y-R daffodils that have a color 
flush more akin to red on their perianth petals (in the lower third, only, 
alas) also have the best color retention but the color is not as advanced as in 
the amber-orange-red examples.

I think the truest approach to orange is found in the old Division 2 clone 
'Arbar,' accurately color coded 2 W-O.  The corona is a very even, concolor 
orange without obvious admixture of either yellow or orange.  The flat white 
perianth behind the corona is the perfect foil for this color.  It is, however, not 
at all a common color in daffodil hybrids of my acquaintance.  Since this 
clone is the parent or grandparent of a number of today's hybrids, this 
particular shade emerges to greater or lesser degree in several of the offspring.  None 
surpass the original, in my opinion.

Incidentally, 'Ambergate' was bred by an Englishman, Douglas Milne, and 
registered some fifty years ago.  Interesting that it is still popular today.  The 
proprietor of Ambergate Gardens (perennials) in Minnesota was so taken with 
the color, they named the business for it!  If it's the color in daffodils 
you're most taken with, select any of the above or one or all of those recommended 
by Linda!


The color orange is synonymous with the genus Lilium.  From the standpoint of 
evolution, it was the color of choice (for whatever reason; it might be 
interesting to understand why, though!) for many Asiatic and North American species 
in the genus.  It is seldom the color of choice for most lily fanciers and 
that may very well be due to the lack of pure orange.  Certainly, that was my 
feeling -- until last Summer when I first saw the tetraploid Asiatic hybrid, 
'Brunello.'  This spotless, upfacing lily has broad tepals of heavy substance and 
smooth texture and colored the most beguiling shade of soft, pure orange that 
I have ever seen in a lily (the only competitor would be 'Liberty Hyde 
Bailey').  The backs of the tepals and the stems are shaded substantially darker, a 
contrast that serves to make the flower just that more appealing.  I can 
vividly recall just sitting there admiring it (when I should have doing other more 
pressing things!!) and wondering why I did so.  I finally decided that it was 
the shade of orange that was so appealing, as it had no discernible amount of 
either red or yellow present but appeared as a perfect blend of both.  The 
brilliant red-orange 'Enchantment,' when it first appeared on the scene in the 
middle of the last century, created a sensation!  Advancement though it was, I 
have never found the color to be attractive.  Judith Freeman, the country's 
largest breeder/grower/retailer of lilies is on record as saying she virtually 
cannot give away orange lilies!  I would say that she is going to be pleasantly 
surprised to find there is a very real market for 'Brunello!'  Interestingly, 
it is also the lily of choice in this color and type for Oregon Flowers, a 
giant grower of cut flower lilies (if you've ever bought 'Stargazer' lilies, the 
probability is very high they were grown here) based in Aurora, OR.

"Orange" is also a color that appears in several hybrids and hybrid strains 
of trumpet lilies.  It is often described as "cantaloupe."  Whatever.  This 
shade, too, seems to be rather more that perfect blend of the two base colors.  
'Anaconda,' a famous clone selected from the original OBF strain of Copper King 
many years back had deep red-brown exteriors to the tepals that served to 
emphasize and heighten the color within.  The "Anaconda/Copper King" strain being 
sold today is but an inferior comparison to the original, alas.  With 
spectacular tetraploid forms now extant in Division, VI, perhaps the hybrids derived 
from these plants will once again approach the glory of the original.

Dave Karnstedt
Cascade Daffodils
Silverton, Oregon  97381
Cool Mediterranean climate; USDA Zone 7-8

More information about the pbs mailing list