Starting Breeding Daylilies In Ecuador

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Designing a daylily breeding plan for Ecuador.

This page is for accumulating my ideas about breeding daylilies for Ecuador. While there might be many existing varieties which may do well here, I doubt that there are many that are optimal for Ecuadorean environments.

First, the question is what microclimate to breed for or in. Inhabited Eucador ranges from ecuatorial, tropical coast up to paramo that freezes most nights and back down to Amazonian rain forest. Rainfall ranges from over 100 inches per year to just a few inches per year during a desert rainy season. So far, there are no daylilies that will bloom at the low elevations on the coast or the rainforest. Some environments would allow for very rapid increase. Some environments would have seasonal bloom, probably during the wetter season.

Second, daylilies should be bred for the environment chosen. That includes pests such as daylily rust, leaf streak, and daylily aphids, which are widespread in Ecuador. But it could also include adaptation to dry seasons when it might be advantageous to go summer dormant (aestivate). Soils may be significant too: red clay soils in the Amazon tend to be very poor while there are rich volcanic soils throughout the highlands. Deer, rabbits and other herbivores exist, but are generally found only in parks and preserves. Domestic poultry (espcially geese) and livestock are the biggest herbivore threats to daylilies, but they are usually confined. Weed control is a major issue in the lowlands, where weeds (including tree species) can grow 20 feet tall in a year. Daylilies are not likely to be invasive: instead they might be persistent like H. fulva is.

Third, there is the question of what garden/landscaping purpose the plants will serve. In the big Andean cities, it is common to grow daylilies in median dividers of roads, in parks, and landscaped plantings in front of buildings along with other drought-resistant flowers such as Crinum and Agapanthus. Fenced in yards often have a wide assortment of flowers in the ground, and gardens of potted plants are also frequent. Daylilies would be competing with the other imported tropical flowers, but should be successful the way they are in Florida and California.

Fourth, how would the daylilies be distributed? There is a large nursery industry in Ecuador, both agricultural and horticultural, though primarily in the highlands. Plant prices are VERY low: around 1/5 to 1/10 the prices in the USA. There is nothing like the selling gardens in the USA. There are lots of cooperatives, but nothing like the Daylily Society. And there is a pretty strong culture of pass-along plants.


In restarting breeding here, I will have three major goals:

  • Evergreen foliage that makes tight, weed-resistant clumps. I hate when weeds grow through open clumps.
  • Rust, leaf streak, slug, aphid and thrips resistance.
  • Continual bloom.

I also have these lesser, but still important goals:

  • Vigor and increase in our conditions.
  • Self-grooming.
  • Bright, clear colors. I hate munge.
  • Medium to talls. Easier to pollinate.  :-) Also, will not get lost as easily in the weeds.

Side goals:

  • Selection for bloom without cool nights in the rainforest. Some Kaskell seed-grown lines might work immediately.

Goals that might be adopted:

  • Short heights. I don’t know what people will want here, but maybe for pot culture.
  • Branching and budcount. Might not be important with rebloom.
  • Bud building.

Unimportant goals (to me):

  • Diploid or tetraploid: I don’t care. Probably faster to work with diploids.
  • Patterns. I want the basics first, and few patterns are impressive at a distance.
  • Edges.
  • Size. On the other hand, "gaudy pays the bills".
  • Wide or narrow petalled.

Breeding Strategy

Rust resistant, reblooming and evergreen.

Almost every cross (at first) will be an F1 that combines evergreen foliage, rebloom, and rust resistance. The first crosses will be made in the US at Harmon Hill. Seedlings will probably be grown in containers in rust-producing conditions. Seedling selection can begin early because evergreen seedlings are usually faster-growing and rusty seedlings can be immediately discarded. With luck, some of the F1 might be good. When I get the parents to Ecuador, they can also be screened for rust resistance.

To keep clear about what's what, I've grouped the plants into 8 classes each for diploids and tetraploids. I lump semi-evergreens and dormants together as the alternative to evergreen.

1. Rust resistant, reblooming and evergreen.
Cross to 1 to 8. The group with all of what I want! I have around 30 diploids and 30 tetraploids in this group.
2. Rust resistant and reblooming.
Cross to 1, 3, 5, or 6. Most of my Reeder and Reimer purchases lie here, and some of my breeding.
3. Rust resistant and evergreen.
Cross to 1, 2, 5, or 6.
4. Rust resistant.
Cross to 1 or 5. A bunch of my dark scape breeding lies here, and a few Reeders..
5. Reblooming and evergreen.
Cross to 1, 2, 3 or 4.
6. Evergreen.
Cross to 1 or 2.
7. Reblooming.
Cross to 1 or 3. Most of my former breeding is here.
8. Miscellaneous.
Cross to 1, or make bridge plants.

Diploid parents that I currently plan to use in each of the 8 classes.

Click here to see the list

Tetraploid parents that I currently plan to use in each of the 8 classes.

Click here to see the list

Current Primary Sources Of Rust-Resistant Plants

Current Sources Of Rust-Resistance Information

Guide To Breeding Subclasses

Most crosses will stay within each of these subclasses. Exceptions are noted.

A. Anthocyanins (narrow and wide petal subdivisions)
B. Patterns (narrow and wide petal subdivisions)
C. Solid Colors (narrow and wide petal subdivisions)
D. Near Whites (narrow and wide petal subdivisions)
Likely to be used on other groups for color clarification.
E. Bud Builders
Mostly within the group.
F. Species
Primarily outcrosses to group 1 whites.
G. Dark Scapes
Primarily outcrosses to group 1 whites or reds.
H. Striped Flowers
Primarily outcrosses to group 1 whites or reds.
I. Rhyzomatious
Primarily F1 outcrosses to evergreens with fulva as pollen parent. For F2's there are several dormant F1's available from Reeder. Rhyzomes are likely recessive.

Special Projects

  • Bloom in tropical lowlands. Daylilies don't seem to start scapes when nights are always over 70, as in Tena. However, Matt Kaskell's seed strains from the Florida Coast might have that problem licked. They will be tested. Also, seedling growth should be rapid in Tena, so I might encounter some seedlings that bloom there.
  • Bud building. Genesta and other dormant diploid builders can be crossed onto Sarah Christine and Wedding Canatata, evergreen diploid bud builders. The goal will be to see if bud building behavior makes good garden plants here.
  • Rhyzomatious tetraploids. Probably not too difficult to produce using triploid fulva to pollinate tetraploids. Implausibility and its kids can be used too.
  • Dark scapes. These lines are serendipitously rust resistant. With the evergreen Sir Blackstem (which carries melon), I should be able to use my dormant introductions.
  • Striped flowers. Start with Yankee Pinstripes, put onto group 1 solid colors, reds and whites.

Making Seed

  • This year (2021) seed will be made in New Hampshire.
  • About half of the plants will be freshly delivered evergreens, the others mostly dormants that I have bred or that are otherwise present in at Harmon Hills farm. The evergreens will mostly be pollen parents, though I will pod them as best I can.
  • Most crosses will be short crosses, to identify best parents and strategies. Each bloom will be individually tagged.
  • Crosses will be across all goals, dip and tet, mostly things that will combine evergreen, rebloom, and rust resistance. A few bud building crosses using pollen from group 1. A few dark scape crosses using Sir Blackstem (group 1). A few rhyzomatious crosses.


  • Seed will be dry-stored, and scarified in a bottle with some sandpaper. Cold wet storage is not required and reduces potential storage time from years to months.
  • Seed will be direct sown (though some will be sown in pots then transplanted as a comparison.)
  • Seedling spacing needs to be experimented with to find good solutions for here. Dense sowing optionally followed by transplanting might be a good solution.
  • I will no longer label all seedlings individually; only when they need to be marked for selection or breeding.
  • Seedlings that are weak or with visible rust or poor foliage can be immediately culled.

If I am lucky, I will be able to spot a difference in growth between dormants and evergreens at a few months. I will have to mark my guesses and then see how they behave. I have some Helicopter (a hard dormant in MA and Latacunga) as a comparison.


I need to come up with a system of marking a label in the garden with when flowers are open and when (or if) foliage senesces.


I want tight clumps that shade the soil around them to suppress weeds, the way Stella De Oro does.


Yet to be determined. I have no experience with distinguishing semi-evergreen from evergreen foliage. Nor do I know how foliage will present in the 3 different environments I will be growing in: tropical lowland Tena, middle altitude Banos, and cold high altitude Latacunga. Foliage looks normal in Tena, but no daylilies have produced scapes there. In Latacunga, scapes and foliage look normal on evergreen species-like daylilies, but scapes and foliage are short and stunted on my dormant seedlings.


Evaluation might be very tricky. With no seasons, rebloom will have to be measured differently, perhaps by frequency. I'll have to play this by ear.

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