Peacock Moraea Breeding Program

By Michael Mace

Although many Moraea species have fairly large, brightly-colored flowers, as far as I can tell there hasn't been much effort to hybridize them. (Or if there has, no information about those efforts has been posted online.) I'm sharing my results here to encourage other people to try making their own hybrids. I'm treating this as the plant equivalent of an open source software project: I'll share my information (and surplus seeds and corms) and ask in return that you do the same.

To see a photo gallery of my crosses, click here.

My focus. I focus on winter-growing plants that go dormant in summer, since they adapt easily to the summer-dry climate where I live in California. Although I grow a fairly broad variety of winter-growing Moraeas, for hybridization I focus on a group called the subgenus Vieusseuxia. This group includes many of the most colorful Moraeas, and I'm finding that most of them will cheerfully interbreed. There are about 25 winter-growing species in the Vieusseuxias; I have about 15 of them, and have gotten blooms from about a dozen so far. I'm always looking for more of these species, and for new color forms of the species I already have (see my want list below). If you have seeds or corms and want to trade, please drop me a note.

As for what I'm trying to achieve with these hybrids, I haven't decided yet. At this point I'm just experimenting to see what's possible. I know that I want to try to get a truly red Moraea, but other than that I'm just exploring.

Moraea species that can be crossed. Here's a chart that summarizes the Vieusseuxia crosses I've made so far:

Chart of Moraea subgenus vieusseuxia crosses, Michael Mace

Some things I've learned

Failed crosses. In addition to the species crosses I listed above, I have tried to cross many of the species above with Moraea polystachya and M. fergusoniae. Those species are not in subgenus Vieusseuxia, but I thought they might be compatible because they have the same chromosome numbers. None of those crosses have succeeded.

I've also tried to cross the Vieusseuxias with plants in the Homeria subgenus of Moraeas. Some of those crosses have set seeds, but the only ones to bloom so far have all turned out to be self-pollinated. I have made some more crosses with Homeria, and am waiting for them to bloom. I suspect those will turn out to be self-pollinated as well.

Several experimental crosses between Moraea and the related genera Dietes and Ferraria failed to set seeds.

My plants

Here's a list of Vieusseuxia species that have bloomed for me, plus the ones I'm trying to obtain.

Species I've bloomed (chromosome number and comments in parentheses)
Moraea aristata   (Chromosome number: 2n=12)
Moraea atropunctata   (12)
Moraea bellendenii   (12)
Moraea calcicola   (12)
Moraea gigandra   (12, forms with and without blue eye)
Moraea longiaristata(?)*   (chromosome number unknown)
Moraea loubseri   (12)
Moraea lurida   (12; form with pale yellow/maroon flowers)
Moraea neopavonia   (12; with and without blue eye)
Moraea tripetala   (12; pale to dark purple)
Moraea tulbaghensis   (24; green, blue, chartreuse, and gray eyes)
Moraea villosa ssp. villosa   (24; many color variations shown here)
*There is some disagreement about whether the plants I grow under this name are identified properly. See the discussion here.
Chromosome numbers from Peter Goldblatt, The Moraeas of Southern Africa.

Species I'd like to obtain
Moraea algoensis
Moraea amissa
Moraea barkerae
Moraea barnardii
Moraea caeca
Moraea cantharophila
Moraea deltoidea
Moraea incurva
Moraea lilacina
Moraea longiaristata
Moraea regalis
Moraea rivulicola
Moraea thomasiae
Moraea villosa ssp. elandsmontana
Moraea worcesterensis

I'm also interested in unusual color forms of species I already have, such as the white versions of M. tulbaghensis and M. insolens, the orange and white forms of M. gigandra, the pink form of M. villosa, and orange, purple, dark maroon, and white forms of M. lurida. If you know where to get any of these, please let me know.

You too can grow Moraea flowers. For pollination information, look here.

You can contact me (Michael Mace) through the web form here.

Thanks. I'd like to publicly thank Bob Werra, Colin Davis, and Garry Knipe, who have given me enormous amounts of material and advice.


28.05.2013 - 08:40  

Kathleen Sayce

Mark, this is a wonderful compendium of your work to date. Thanks very much for the time you put into this, and for all the photos. I'll look at the few Moraea I grow with considerably more interest going forward.

28.05.2013 - 20:37  

Michael Mace

Thanks, Kathleen! My goal here is to encourage people to grow Moraeas, so if you find yourself more interested in them, I've accomplished my mission.

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Return to the Peacock Moraea Hybrids index

Galaxia - Gynandriris - Hexaglottis - Homeria A-J - Homeria K-Z - Moraea group A - Moraea group B - Moraea group C-E - Moraea group F - Moraea group G-I - Moraea group J-M - Moraea group N-R - Moraea group S - Moraea group T - Moraea group U-V - Moraea index

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Page last modified on May 19, 2013, at 06:10 PM