A blooming hybrid

Michael Mace mikemace@worldnet.att.net
Sun, 02 Feb 2003 22:45:17 PST
Hi, gang.

Sorry I haven't been doing much posting lately -- it's a combination of
having a lot going on, and not having much new to say that I haven't posted

Something new (for me) did happen this weekend, though: the blooming of the
first definite, no-questions-asked hybrid bulb that I've raised from seed.

For years I have been playing with cross-pollination of bulbs.  I spent a
lot of effort on Calochortus, but every cross that bloomed so far turned out
to be a copy of the seed parent, presumably self-pollinated.  I have also
done a lot of crosses with Amaryllids, and I'm sure those will bloom in
another decade or so.  I have also raised a couple of other bulbs that might
be hybrids, but the tags were damaged or lost so I'm not sure what they are.

Anyway, the place where I'm finally getting well-documented traction is with
winter-blooming Gladiolus.  These aren't the summer-blooming bulbs you get
by the pound at Home Depot; these are small, intricately-marked butterfly
flowers that grow on narrow stems and dance in the wind.  Three years ago I
started trying to cross them, and the first one bloomed this weekend.

It's a cross between the ice blue form of Gladiolus gracilis and Gladiolus
(formerly Homoglossum) priorii, a red tubular flower with a yellow throat.

What do you get when you combine pale blue with tomato red?  In this case,
it's a warm magenta color that looks really nice.  The flowers have the
flaring petals of G. priorii and the intricate throat markings of G.
gracilis.  They smell good too.

All in all, I am very pleased with how easy this was, and how nice the
flowers look.  I definitely want to try some more, and if you're thinking of
trying it yourself, go for it!  My only question is...what do I do now?  I
like the look of the flowers, but they could be a little bigger.  Should I
take the pollen from these and try it on a large flower like G. tristis, or
will that likely wash out the colors?  I've heard of techniques like
backcrossing, but I don't know when it's best to use them.

I guess I'm asking if anyone knows of a book that could help me -- something
like "the dummy's guide to breeding plants."

Any suggestions?


San Jose, CA (zone 9, min temp 20F)

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