Monday, February 23, 2015

Moraea MM 11-91

Seed parent: Yellow Homeria species (probably M. flaccida, but I'm not sure)
Pollen parent: Moraea villosa form a

This one was something of a shock.

I tried for years to cross Peacock Moraeas and various species in the former genus Homeria, without any luck. The Moraeas refused to set seeds with Homeria pollen, and Homeria flowers seem to self-pollinate extremely easily. I ended up with a number of "crosses" that turned out to be identical to the seed parents.

Eventually I tried making a few crosses in which I looked for Homeria flowers just as they opened, removed the anthers before they could shed pollen, and then packed them with Moraea pollen. That was a tedious process, and most of the crosses didn't set seed. I eventually gave up in frustration.

So imagine my surprise when these flowers opened.

MM 11-91a.

Another angle on the same flower. You can see a bit of the nice orange pollen:

In the second year, the flowers bloomed again. The flowers looked more yellow this time. I don't know if that's due to a difference in lighting, or something else. Check it out:

MM 11-91b. A bit more purple in the flower than the one above.

Here are a couple of second year photos:

MM 11-91c. Identical to the seed parent.

The seed parent was a yellow Homeria I've had for decades. It's old enough that I'm not sure of the species any more, but according to an old tag it is probably the yellow form of M. flaccida. The pollen parent was Moraea villosa a, which has purple tepals and a blue eye.

Three of these plants bloomed this year. One is a clone of the yellow Homeria seed parent. The other two are absolutely, positively hybrids.

So it is possible to cross Peacock Moraeas and Homerias.

The hybrids in this cross are ugly but interesting. They are a weird brown color, which I do not like. But I love how the inner tepals (the smaller ones) have expanded, and they have a very interesting leaf vein mark on them.

In my notes about the cross, I wrote: "13 seeds, several with a green spot. Plump." Later, when I repotted the unbloomed corms, I wrote: "Look like Homeria corms." Go figure.

The flowers have nicely-developed anthers with lots of orange pollen, so they may be fertile. I crossed the two hybrids with each other (and got one pod). I'll also try them with some other species and hybrids.

What's next? When I look closely at the flowers, it appears that the yellow color from the Homeria spreads through the whole flower evenly, and then purple is overlaid on it in a veined pattern. That's what makes it look brown. So I wonder what would happen if I crossed the yellow Homeria with a Peacock Moraea that has pale or white tepals. Would I get a yellow flower with the big nectar guides of a Peacock Moraea? That would be very exciting.

There are other species of Homeria that have pink, salmon, and mixed-color flowers. If I combined them with Peacock Moraeas, all sorts of interesting color combinations might show up.

It looks like I'm going to be picking the anthers off a lot more flowers...

Monday, February 9, 2015

Gladiolus MM 11-14

Seed parent: Gladiolus 00-00a (Gladiolus gracilis v. gracilis X priorii)
Pollen parent: Gladiolus carinatus

I've often had nice results crossing a species with a hybrid, and this is a great example. Gladiolus 00-00a is a magenta hybrid, while G. carinatus is light purple and yellow. The combination of them has produced a very nice range of colors and patterns, some of which remind me of Alstroemerias.

I think the photos speak for themselves:

MM 11-14a. This one has dark magenta tips and a white center.

MM 11-14b. Purple with speckles in the throat.

MM 11-14d. Check out the yellow in the throat of this one.

MM 11-14f. Very pale with nice pink-magenta markings.

MM 11-14g. Lighter purple. Can you see the faint turquoise stripe the midline of the tepals? It's more obvious in person.

Gladiolus MM 11-05

Seed parent: Gladiolus 00-00c (Gladiolus gracilis v. gracilis X priorii)
Pollen parent: Gladiolus 00-00a (Gladiolus gracilis v. gracilis X priorii)

Every book that I've read about flower breeding says that it's important to make F2 hybrids. If you don't know what an F2 is, it's a second generation cross. The first generation is F1. If you breed together the offspring of that cross, you get F2 plants.

F1 crosses of two plant species are relatively predictable: They usually look like a mix of the two species, roughly halfway between. And all of the offspring from that cross look pretty much the same.

But cross those F1s together, and all sorts of recessive genes get paired up and reveal themselves. The F2s are much more diverse than the F1 hybrids. At least, that's the story. In my case, it seems to be hit or miss.

The grandparents of this particular F2 cross are Gladiolus priorii (a tomato-red flower that blooms around Christmas time in San Jose, CA), and Gladiolus gracilis, a pale ice-blue flower with prominent dark blue lines in the throat. It blooms in early Spring.

The results of that cross, MM 00-00, are magenta-colored (halfway between blue and red), and have dark lines in the throat. My favorites have a mottled look to the tepals that reminds me of a watercolor painting.

I thought the F2 hybrids would come in a wide range of colors, blue and magenta and red. But so far most of them are magenta, and are not a big improvement over the F1 parents. Here, judge for yourself:

Gladiolus MM 11-05a. This one is a dusky purple color with nice dark markings and a bit of yellow.

Gladiolus MM 11-05b. Plain magenta with a bit of yellow. An interesting cross, but not all that exciting to me. In Japan, where many breeders seem to favor flowers without spots, this one might be a winner.

Gladiolus MM 11-05c. This one I really like. It's a bright pure magenta that doesn't photograph well, unfortunately (the photographs look much more pinky and washed out than the real thing). I'm very happy with this plant.

Gladiolus MM 11-05d. Kind of a dusky magenta color, and the flowers are narrower than I'd like.

Gladiolus MM 11-03

Seed parent: Gladiolus violaceo-lineatus
Pollen parent: Gladiolus MM 00-00a (Gladiolus gracilis v. gracilis X priorii)

This is a pale blue species crossed with a magenta hybrid that was the offspring of red and pale blue parents. Since red and blue combined to make magenta, I figured crossing that with another blue would produce a mix of magenta and blue flowers.

So much for the theory. One cross was snacked on by a snail, so all I know is that it's purple with yellow in the throat:

 MM 11-03a. It might be pretty if I ever get to see the whole flower.

Another cross was very undersized and an uninteresting mauvey-purple color:
MM 11-03c

But then there's this one, which is basically white with prominent magenta lines in the lower tepals. I don't know where the white came from; clearly my knowledge of genetics is incomplete.  But the flower is beautiful:
MM 11-03b

Compare these to Gladiolus MM 11-22, a similar cross.

Gladiolus MM 00-00

Seed parent: Gladiolus gracilis v. gracilis
Pollen parent: Gladiolus priorii

This is one of the first hybrid crosses I created, and it's a nice one. The seed parent is an ice blue flower with dark lines in the throat, while the pollen parent is tomato red. When combined, they make a very nice magenta flower. The selection pictured here has subtle mottling in the tepals that looks to me like a watercolor painting.

MM 00-00a

MM 00-00b. Similar color scheme to form a, but without the watercolor markings.

MM 00-00c