Hybridizing Daylilies 102: The next step toward creating beautiful garden companions

Step One: Harvest the seeds

September 2023

Hello fellow gardeners,

I hope that many of you have had the chance to take the class of Hybridizing Daylilies 101. I have been creating new cultivars since 2014 and look forward to new ones every year.

It was a very warm, humid, and wet summer and the success rate of fertilizing was way down. I hope that you were able to have a few crosses that took and now are awaiting the maturity of the seed pods. I kept mine to my promise of 30!

It usually takes 45-60 days for a seed pod to develop and mature. You will know that it has matured when it turns brown and the top cracks open and displays shiny black seeds. That is the time to harvest the seeds.

I recommend that you snap the seed pod off and take the numbered tag with it and put both in a paper coffee filter. Place the tag in the filter, then place a tissue in the filter with the seeds. I let them dry for about one day and then take them out and begin to store them for the winter.

Step Two: Stores the seeds

TO STORE: I make a folder out of a paper towel to fit in a “snack” plastic bag. I tape the ends of the folder with tape so that the seeds do not fall out. I then place that small snack bag into a larger baggie and place them in the salad compartment of my refrigerator.  They are double bagged and will not harm any of your food in that drawer. They will remain there until early March when you remove them and place the seeds in a vermiculate seed starter. You can certainly start them earlier, but you will need some grow lights. I find March 1st is good as we start to get some sunny days and they can be placed in a sunny window.

I use small plastic dixie cups and mark the outside with a Sharpie with the number of your seed tag. Punch 3 holes in the bottom of the cups for drainage. The seeds don’t need to be planted deep, just make a small indent with a pencil, and put the seed in and cover it. The cups need to be put under grow lights or kept in a sunny window and kept moist to germinate. Give them some time since some of the seeds are slow to break open. Eventually your seedlings will emerge like small blades of grass. Keep them moist and in sunlight. Eventually in about 1-2 months, you can transfer them to a larger cup (shown here) and re-plant in potting mix. Don’t forget the drainage holes. They will remain there until they are ready to be planted in the ground. I always have a separate place for these seed plants as they can be easily mistaken for weeds. Be sure and place a small marker next to the seedling to identify it.

I have successfully created 425 new cultivars by hybridizing since 2014. It has been such a wonderful journey and I look forward to every year when my new seedlings bloom. Remember, they will take three years to show their glory in the Northeast, sometimes two. I welcome and find a place in my garden for each, and every one of them. The time does come, however, to decide which ones to keep, the hardest part of all.

I have enclosed a few of my favorites!

Any questions, please feel free to email me at: MLHarrington6892@comcast.net


The Garden Goddess