Crinum breeding: which features ?
Thu, 26 Aug 2004 15:49:08 PDT
In a message dated 8/26/2004 10:09:42 AM Central Daylight Time, Angelo 
Porcelli <>

> Crinum breeding: which features ?

Hi Angelo,

I have to agree with you that some of the flowers are ephemeral, and some 
don't rebloom, and some don't have fragrance, and some don't have substance (a 
bit of rain and they are a mess).    So, clearly there is room for improvement 
in terms of garden worthy plants.  

I must tell you that once I discovered Crinum jagus types cold bloom for a 
full week and produce huge white flowers, as well as cover the garden with the 
delicious scent of vanilla, I realized there was potential there.  So, breeding 
for fragrance is one possible direction.

Additionally, I have a pass-along plant that I suppose is 'Emma Jones', but 
it produces stalks about 3-ft-tall rather than 4-ft-tall.  It blooms in 
mid-July and keeps producing huge flowers for weeks.  I've read that 'Emma Jones' 
produces about 12 flowers per stalk, but this plant, given to me 2 years ago, 
produce 22 flowers on a stalk.  Each flower lasted about 48 hours in intense sun, 
and didn't lose color.  So, breeding for many-flowered, colorfast, rich 
pink-red blooms is another direction.  

Another favorite of mine is 'Bradley.'  It just gets better each year.  It 
does not offset a lot, but is producing a few pups.  Meanwhile the mother bulb 
sent up 4 stalks over 4 weeks this spring, providing excellent color and a good 
focal point in the garden.  It does not rebloom later in the year.  So, 
breeding for a seasonal display of color, held high, is another possible direction 
for hybridizers.

Some clones of Milk and Wine Crinum (C. x herbertii) bloom heavily in spring, 
then again in midsummer, and sometimes again in fall.  So, season long repeat 
is another direction that hybridizers might take.  Milk and Wine Crinum are 
so variable that many should be tossed--no substance and no repeat.  

I'm fond of some of the smaller Crinum hybrids.  They seem to multiply 
quickly and give a display as good as, or better than, tulips.  But, of course, they 
do so later in spring.  Many of the smaller plants could be improved with 
flowers that hold up better in rain.  

I have just a few of the small red-leaved Crinum.  I think they are C. 
procerum 'Splendens.'  They take a long time to reach maturity, but when you see 
them as large 6-7 ft-tall plants you might be willing to breed for foliage 

Marcelle Sheppard has a C. asiaticum cross that looks like a half-sized 
asiaticum in foliage, but it blooms off and on from spring till fall--beautiful 
clusters of firm, sturdy, white flowers.

I have a plant that I suppose is C. erubescens.  It tolerates all kinds of 
abuse, and it flowers when it wants to, but usually in later summer and fall.  
The blooms have good substance and last for 48-72 hours each.  I'd really enjoy 
the putting some fragrance into that plant through breeding.  

One of my all time favorites is on Marcelle's Web site, it is called 'Bride's 
Bouquet'.  There can be 2 or 3 dozen starry flowers per scape, and sometimes 
4 scapes open at the same time on a mature plant.  The effect really is like a 
bridal bouquet, perhaps one made of overly large Stephanotis blossoms.  The 
flowers hold up OK, but could be improved by substance and fragrance.  

LINK:  Bride's Bouquet Photo… 

So, while it is true, many Crinum do not produce cut flower-quality blooms, 
or displays suitable for the garden.  I do think that such ability is within 
the plants.  To me, the genus seems a bit like wild roses--once blooming and/or 
small-flowered.  When you factor in the wonderful Amarcrinum hybrids it does 
seem that fragrance and substance can be achieved.  However, the years of 
waiting for progeny to bloom reminds me of a a project I heard about at the 
University of California.  One professor was breeding redwood trees for enhanced 
timber production.  On his time scale Crinum are quick indeed.  

Conroe Joe (still hot, still humid, sometimes rain, lows about 78-80 F).  

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