Daylilies are one of the easiest plants to learn how to hybridize. The large flowers with easy to get to pollen make it a simple matter to transfer pollen from one flower to another. There are a couple simple things you need to know before you start hybridizing daylilies. The first is where the pollen is and the second is where to place it!
Important Daylily Parts for Hybridizing
The two parts of the daylily flower you need to pay attention to are the stigma and the stamen. The stamens are 6 stalk like parts that emerge from the flower. On the end of each stamen is the anther which is where you can find the pollen. It's easy to see if you are doing this in the morning. In the afternoon I have noticed they tend to close and make the pollen harder to get to so the morning is the best time to pollinate. The pollen contains the male genetic material or sperm that you will need to transfer over to the female flower with which you are trying to cross pollinate. The female flower part you are looking for is the stigma which is on the very end of a long stalk called the style.
How to Hybridizing Daylilies
All you have to do once you know what parts to look for is to take pollen from one daylily and bring it to the stigma. Once it gets to the stigma the pollen will travel to the ovary where the seeds will form. I typically remove a stamen and bring it over and directly rub it against the stigma of the other daylily flower. You can use this stamen on several flowers at a time before you run out of pollen.
After the seed pods form and turn brown you can collect the seeds. Be sure to label them if you want to keep track of the lineage! To me the hardest part of hybridizing daylilies is keeping track of the crosses. You can label them with a tag on the flower stalk then save them in seed packets to plant next spring. Depending on how much time you have left in the growing season you may be able to get a few started.
Not All Daylilies will Cross with Each Other
Daylilies can be either tetraploid or diploid. What does that mean? If a daylily is tetraploid it has four sets of chromosomes. If it is diploid it only has two. The tetraploids will only cross with other tetraploids and the diploids will only cross with diploids. Research which types of daylilies you have before you go out and try to cross them so you aren't wasting effort on a cross that won't work.
Here a few of the crosses I did today:
'Primal Scream' Daylily
I've mentioned 'Primal Scream' before because it's one of my favorites. I think adding a red color to this one would look pretty cool. It's a massive daylily that I crossed with 'Red Volunteer' from above.
Crossing the daylilies can be a lot of fun but it takes patience to see the results. It could be 2-3 years before you see the results of a hybridized daylily.
Have you tried hybridizing daylilies?