Dale Martens Hybridizing Notes

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Dale Martens Hybridizing Notes

Postby strepcrazy » Sat Jul 01, 2006 3:43 pm

These were lost in the crash so I am reposting them.


Lesson 1

Selecting Parents

Decide what you would like to aim for:

1. Foliage

a. rosette

b. unifoliate

c. variegation

2. Blossoms

a. fantasy

b. yellow throat

c. double

d. scent

e. purple??

3. Size of plant

1.a.: Rosette shapes such as, Strep kentaniensis seem to be dominant. Streps ‘Gator’s Tail’ and ‘Lavender Rosette’ (Martens’ hybrids) are ‘Pegasus’ x S. kentaniensis are are rosette shaped. I understand from those using them as parents that the seedlings they’ve gotten are also rosette shaped, but not as strongly as that first generation.

1.b.: Unifoliate (single leaf) x Plurifoliate (multiple leaves) usually equals about 50/50 of each. Unifoliates are programmed to bloom, set seed, and die. One cannot propagate new plants from a unifoliate once it begins to flower. If you get a unifoliate seedling, do wait to see if it makes new leaves after it blooms. Often seedlings from unifoliate x plurifoliate initially produce one extra large and extra wide leaf. After the seedling blooms, then more leaves are usually produced, but they will never be as big as that first leaf. This is how ‘It Makes Scents’ and ‘Kiwi Friendship’ began their lives.

In addition, we’ve heard from Jaco Truter (and it’s my experience, too) that some (not all) plurifoliate seedlings with a unifoliate parent, tend to struggle to live after blooming. Although you are taking a risk when using a unifoliate parent, keep in mind that the unifoliate Strep dunnii with it’s crimson flowers is what is credited with giving us pink & reddish hybrids in the first place. I’m currently growing out hybrids with S. dunnii in the parentage and I have red flowers on some of the seedlings.

1.c.: Select a variegated plant as the Mother plant. So far crossing variegation x green leaf equals 99.9% green leaf seedlings. Those can be selfed or back-crossed to the variegated mother. If you are very lucky, and I’ve only been lucky three times, you can get a variegated seedling in that first batch of seedlings. Be sure to allow your seedlings to have time to sprout since some have suggested that they are slower to sprout than the average strep seedling. The only way we are going to get variegated plants with more than two flowers per stem is if we out-cross to green leaf plants that have lots of flowers. Caution: pretty please toss any variegated plants with weak flower stems. I saw a show that introduced some variegated streps and the flowers were practically laying on the leaves. Weak flower stems on variegated foliage is a real problem! Back-crossing will bring out those weak stems. I've gotten gorgeous variegated foliage by selfing the variegate x green leaf seedlings. About 8% had variegation.

2.a.: Fantasy flowers aren’t easy to obtain in hybridizing. Sometimes they have very little pollen. Sometimes the seedlings are very weak and die before reaching blooming stage. Fantasy x self has given me solid colored flowers. Fantasy x solid might give you fantasy. At this time I don’t know if the mother has to be the fantasy parent. Right now in my experience, it looks that way, but I haven’t hybridized them enough to say for sure. I have some ‘Double Scoop’ x ‘Toronto Silver Splash’ hybrids about to bloom.

2.b.: Yellow throats aren’t dominant. I used ‘Lemon Drop’ as the seed parent crossed with a strep without yellow in the throat and none of the seedlings had yellow throats. Even Texas Hot Chili x Big Yolk yielded a few seedlings with no yellow in the throat.

2.c.: Double flowers are dominant, but not to the extent we’d probably like. Double x single can yield some non-doubles, and the rest are either very double to having just a single, extra little petal. The male organs become extra petals. Therefore, a double must be the seed parent. Having said that, I found a double with one, distorted pollen sac stuck to a petal. I used that pollen on my double hybrid ‘Al’s Pal’. I got some flowers that were so filled with petals that the flower was unable to open! I also got some singles!! 'Double Scoop' is 'Al's Pal' x unnamed double.

2.d.: Scent appears to be a popular goal. So far those hybridizing for scent have used S. vandeleurii as a parent. It’s a unifoliate, so see 1.b. above. Jaco Truter has suggested that S. candidus be used. It’s a plurifoliate and the flower sure smells better than S. vandeleruii! One of the challenges with having a scented hybrid is that it has little or no pollen. Also, it seems to resist being hybridized. I recently discovered that scent from S. candidus can be passed onto the seedling through the pollen parent. One out of 10 plants has the scent, but it's quite mild and is more easily detected in the afternoon.

2.e.: Purple. Avoid it. Pretty please don’t name a purple flowered seedling unless it sings and dances. There are just too many purple/lavender/mauve streps in the world right now!

3. It seems like those of us in North America love the smaller streps. Those in England and Australia grow standard sized streps. Small x small doesn’t usually give you small plants. I’ve growing out Tim Tuttle’s Strep cyanandrus cross, ‘Cherokee Charm’ and it’s not small. I’ve also used small x standard and gotten standard sized plants. One needs to do a lot of back-crossing to get small plants with a variety of colors. It was suggested to me that Strep cyanandrus might not be a good parent to choose due to its intolerance of heat. We have some exciting hybridizing in the future if Strep liliputana will accept pollen from hybrids. I used its pollen on other hybrids, but they didn't accept it. Jaco has had some limited success with using it as a parent.

Lesson 2


When you are ready to cross your chosen plants:

1. The anthers, containing pollen, on the Father plant will mature first, producing viable pollen grain as soon as the buds open.

2. Initially the pistil (the female part in the center of the flower) is deep inside the flower. If you look closely, you will see the length of the pistil grow longer as days go by. The stigma (the very tip of the pistil which has a small opening) on the Mother plant will be most receptive 5 days after the bloom opens. On average the stigma stays receptive for 3 more days. I find it best to pollinate a flower right as the flower begins to look "old". That's about 10 days after opening.

3. Emasculating: Normally the pistil lengthens and eventually the receptive stigma may brush past the male organs, pushing open the anthers to self-pollinate. To prevent selfing the strep, you may want to remove the male parts. You’re going to laugh at this, but I want you to think of the male organs being similar in shape to a turkey’s wishbone. You know how two people pull apart the wishbone to make a wish? The part where the wishbone meets is where the pollen is and the two sides of the wishbone remind me of the filaments attached to the flower. You will see white filaments on either side of the Mother’s pistil. These filaments are attached to petals inside the flower. The pollen is at the tip enclosed in the anthers which are a darker color. If the two filaments are accidentally split apart (like a turkey’s wishbone), the pollen will disperse in the air and be wasted. Therefore, use a small pair of scissors and cut both filaments without splitting in half the anthers holding the pollen. Study the male organs. Why? You’ll need to be aware, once the anther is split apart, which side of the anthers have pollen.

4. Now that the male part is removed, cut off the petals on the flower to expose the pistil & stigma. This way you have clear access to fertilize the plant.

5. Ok, follow directions in #3, only with the Father plant. Carefully, without pulling apart the filaments, take the anthers to the Mother plant. Split the anthers open while touching them to the stigma. You will see the puff of fine pollen. Now you should have one half of the anthers in each hand. Rub the pollen side onto the stigma for added assurance that you’ll have a successful pollination. Repeat this procedure the next day using the same pollen parent on the same flower.

6. If you were successful, the rest of the flower should fall off within 24 hours. Within 2 weeks you will see the pod form and lengthen to at least 2 or more inches for the average hybrid.

7. Now you must tag the bloom. I purchase a plastic “stringâ€
Last edited by strepcrazy on Mon Jun 23, 2008 9:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby masdyman » Sun Jul 02, 2006 1:31 am

Thanks Carlynn, these are invaluable.
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Re: notes

Postby elinh » Mon Dec 29, 2008 7:32 pm

masdyman wrote:Thanks Carlynn, these are invaluable.

I agree!

But, I have to ask what these words mean:
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Postby dale4streps » Wed Dec 31, 2008 4:35 am

Unifoliate: a species with a single leaf such as S. dunnii and S. vandeleurii. The problem with using them as parents is often the progeny inherit that unifoliate leaf. When a strep is a unifoliate, it is programmed to bloom, set seeds and die. So any new hybrid you create that has only one leaf will bloom and die. The leaf will not propagate once flower stems have been produced. You cannot register a hybrid that cannot be propagated true to the parent. So a new unifoliate hybrid cannot be registered because it will soon die.

Back-crossing: Taking a seedling and either putting its parent's pollen on it or using the seedling's pollen onto one of its parents. This is to bring back a characteristic you like such as scent, size, etc.

Out-cross: Not selfing the plant (not putting its own pollen on it)...nor putting either parent's pollen on it. So far most of the variegated streps only produce 2 flowers per stem. You will never get more than 2 flowers per stem by selfing it or breeding it with other variegates. In order to increase flower count, you need to out-cross it with a non-variegated plant that has 5 or more flowers per stem.

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Dale in Illinois
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Postby elinh » Sun Jan 04, 2009 3:28 am

Thanks, Dale!
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