Sunday, July 6, 2014

Similar, But Worlds Apart

It has been 11 years ago now that I raised my first repeat blooming, fully remontant Hulthemia seedling.  At that time it was exceedingly rare to see any blotches on the seedlings in my greenhouse.  Now, in 2014, more than 2/3's of the seedlings that I am raising are Hulthemia hybrids.  Most of the Hulthemia seedlings that I am culling now are better than those first remontant Hulthemias.  

Here (as seen in the photo below) are the seedling benches as they appeared this morning.  As mentioned, most of the seedlings are Hulthemias.  During this time of the year, after the bulk of the inferior seedling have been culled, I begin to get a bit anxious about whether there will be a power failure, or some other kind of mishap that will kill all of the remaining new seedlings in the greenhouse.  Each of the new seedlings is unique and many of them are improvements over any seedlings that I have ever raised before.  Daily, as I have continued to evaluate the seedlings I have come to know the characteristics of each of them: their vigor, their cleanliness, their growth habit, their blooming characteristics, and their fragrance (among several other traits).  I know them.  I hope that some of them will survive my worries.

Today, it struck me how similar one of the new seedlings appears to be like one of the very first repeat blooming Hulthemias.  The earlier seedling was code-named "I89-2".  It was from a cross of [('Orangeade' X 'Abraham Darby') X 'Midnight Blue'] X 'Persian Sunset'.  It bloomed for the first time 9 years ago.  "I89-2" had the best blotch among 5 seedlings from that cross, and it's petals as a new seedling are shown on the left in the photo below (the petals on the right are from a sister seedling that had a less distinct blotch).

As has been previously mentioned in other posts, the Hulthemia blotch becomes larger and more intense as the seedlings mature.  This is demonstrated in the next 2 photos.  They show what "I89-2" looked like during it's second year as a more mature seedling.

So finally then, the new seedling that I mentioned that looks like this old seedling from 9 years ago is seen in the next 2 photos.  This one is code-named "R124".

If you compare the juvenile petals of "I89-2" (at the top of this post), with the juvenile petals of "R124" (second photo above), you can see that this newer seedling has a larger blotch.  And when "R124" matures, you can be sure that it's blotch will be noticeably larger than that seen on the mature bloom of "I89-2".

In reality, the only similarity between these two seedlings is the coloring of their petals. In fact, there is really no comparison beyond the blooms.  "I89-2" was very disease prone, and though somewhat compact in growth, was unmanageable due to its extensive thorns and twiggy growth habit.  Additionally, "I89-2" was one of the worst Hulthemias for dieback.  Each year, much of the growth would die and have to be trimmed out.  In contrast, "R124" has a tidy, attractive plant, with upright, bushy growth and has far fewer prickles than "I89-2".  Additionally, since 'Double Knock Out' is a grandparent, I suspect that this seedling will have very good disease resistance.  An added bonus is that I am seeding some hips forming on this immature plant.  And of course, yes, I have already made some crosses onto it.  "R124" is a keeper for now.  Unfortunately, "I89-2" is now long gone…..

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