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Mickelson’s technique for hybridizing a hemerocallis

The hybridizer is in effect becoming involved with the sex life of a plant. Blooms have both stamens (the “male” pollen producing organ) and pistils (the “female” seed producing organ).

Pick a stamen from one parent lily and deposit pollen from it on the pistil of the mother plant.

Four or five days after the bloom has finished a seed pod will develop if the pollinating was successful.

After six weeks the seed head begins to crack, an indication that it is mature and ready to be picked. Remove the seeds and dry them on paper towels.

To force dormancy store the seeds in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for the entire winter.

In early March plant 15 – 20 seeds in small pots and put them under grow lights.

During mid-May, take the seedlings outside to toughen them for a couple of weeks, and then plant them in the seedling bed.

“It’s the most satisfying feeling in the world,” Mickelson said, “to maybe see something that no one else in the world has seen from crossing two daylilies.”

But the cross is a roll of the dice, a bit like having children.

“You might get what you think you’re going to get,” he continued, “or it might be something different. The 20 seeds in a pod might be all similar or all different.”