Hybridizing

Discussion in 'THE CROTON SOCIETY' started by annafl, May 1, 2014.

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  1. annafl

    annafl Esteemed Member

    I'm trying to learn to hybridize and I have so many questions, I'd love some advice from those of you who have had some experience with creating new cultivars. My first question is- how do you keep ants off a female inflorescence whose flowers are just starting to open so they don't get to them before you do?

    Another question I have is- how do you select plants to hybridize? Obviously, one main criteria is that they have to have available male/female inflorescences. Other than that, how should your thought process go? I recently created seed from Raphael (seed parent) and Claude Lorraine (pollen). Is this a silly combination because they are so similar, or if I'd like to create pink, shade hybrids is this a good way to get a strong propensity for pink and doing well in shade? However, I'd also like there to be distinct differences in the new cultivarsArtist and larger leaves. Today I pollinated Diane (female) with Claude Lorraine (male), and Cutler's Gulfstream (female) with Claude Lorraine (male)SmugGrin, I have also pollinated Magnificent (female) with Claude Lorraine (male). Do you think these are good choices if I'd like to create large pink leaves in a shade hybrid?

    Lastly, what media do you use for the seeds and how often do you water? How much sun do new hatchlings get?

    Should we all get going on a lesson on hybridizing? We've got some outstanding people as sources out there. Come on, Jerry, Chris, Keith, and all others who have done thisHungryWriting! Help us, pleaseDrowning!
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2014
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  2. Moose

    Moose Esteemed Member

    Messages:
    7,950
    Location:
    Coral Gables, FL Zone 10b
    Ana - crotons are so genetically unstable there is just no telling. Crossing known parents, you can only hope that a seedling may take on their best characteristics. It can take three years to see if your new seedling is a keeper. I just dig up any volunteer seedlings (parents unknown) that I find that looks like it has potential.

    As far as Diane, every seedling that came up on their own for me never had any colors other than yellow. I think the yellow characteristic is strong in that cultivar.
     
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  3. Jerry Shilling

    Jerry Shilling Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    280
    Location:
    Summerland Key, FL zone 11
    Hi Ana,

    Ants - I pay no attention to them. When I walk the garden and target certain crotons I want to cross, I have a pretty good idea when the female inflorescence will open. When it does, I'm putting the pollen to it. Occasionally I see an ant or two, but they haven't had time to get to all the flowers, at least I don't think so.

    There are times when there is no pollen available for a day or two, but I don't do anything to keep the ants away, and haven't really thought about it, to be honest. I guess I could use the same nylon sock that I use to capture seeds with though. However with over 200 plants to draw from, I can usually find some ripe pollen somewhere.

    I think your crosses are just fine and would be something that I would do. The most frustrating aspect of hybridizing is you very seldom get to cross the two plants you want to. Over the past two years, I have planted about 30 flats each year, maybe 1200 to 1250 seeds germinate. It takes me 5 months (Nov/Mar) to do that. When you consider that some seed clusters contain 50 to 75 seeds, one cluster can fill 1 of the 30 flats. So I'm pretty selective or try to be early on and less selective later in order to get all the flats filled before we head north.

    On the larger female inflorescence, I will always try and pollinate with several different males if available. Trying to keep a record of this, is an exercise in futility, so I don't and it's really immaterial when you think about it. If I happen to get a cross I've been waiting to get for a long time, I may tag the flat.
     
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  4. Jerry Shilling

    Jerry Shilling Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    280
    Location:
    Summerland Key, FL zone 11
    flats.JPG
    I'm always amazed at the variety I get. I can cross to broad leaf varieties and get several oak leaf seedlings in the batch. It really is hit and miss. I was so excited last year when the Monarch set a huge female inflorescence and I was able to cross it with Sybil Griffen. It was a complete bust.

    In regard to the media, I'm currently using Miracle-Gro moisture control potting soil, but I'm going to modify this next year. The seedlings struggle to emerge from this rather fibrous material and I have to assist them. I use it because once the seedlings are up, it does a good job until I get back to check up on them, which is 2/3 months. I'm thinking about filling the cells 2/3 full of potting soil, placing the seed on top then covering with sand or peat moss.

    I use sprinklers from Home Depot and water them 5 minutes every day.

    My flats are located on the south side of the house, thus protected from the north winds. They are in bright light and get intermittent direct sun through the canopy. If the temps are on the cool side prior to emerging, I will place the flat in direct sun until they emerge. This probably doesn't apply to you during the summer months whereas my hybridizing occurs during the winter months.

    Have fun Ana, it's kind of neat to have a great looking mutt and at the same time, it's one of the rarest croton cultivars on the planet. Good Luck!
     
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  5. annafl

    annafl Esteemed Member

    Jerry, thank-you so much! It's much less rigorous than I thought. You gave me some good ideas. I will have to find a better spot once the seedlings emerge. About what percentage of your seeds emerge? So far, I seem to get a very low percentage. Also, when do you put the nylon sock over the seeds? Is it a clear sock or a usual tan tone?
     
  6. Jerry Shilling

    Jerry Shilling Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    280
    Location:
    Summerland Key, FL zone 11
    Ana - germination rates vary for me but I'd say it averages 80 to 85%. I think this will improve when I adjust the media.
    I use the conventional tan colored ankle socks. I put them on after the berries start to darken and secure with a twist tie. By the way, these socks can be very expensive, look around as the generic brands are very reasonably priced.
     
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  7. annafl

    annafl Esteemed Member

    Wow, that's a much better germination rate than I'm getting Jerry. Maybe I should change my media also. I'm pretty new at it, though, so time will tell. Now Jerry, when you refer to a seed cluster, do you mean the seeds on one female inflorescence? I've never had one with anywhere near 50-75 seeds! Maybe it's because my plants are still pretty small in general. I think my biggest problem is going to be finding a suitable place for the seedlings. When they get to be 4-6 inches tall, do you give them any more light? The light thing still baffles me.
     
  8. Jerry Shilling

    Jerry Shilling Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    280
    Location:
    Summerland Key, FL zone 11
    Yes, one seed cluster = one female inflorescence. Some cultivars, particularly the larger leafed ones that are extremely happy will set a large inflorescence. In addition they set seed in all three compartments in the Berry as well. I've had more than 100 several times.

    Regarding light, when I return to my seedlings later this summer they will be various heights. The earliest ones are easily 6 inches plus and are beginning to get a little leggy. Those plants have to be thinned out. Any seedling that doesn't have any color will be culled. If it has just a dot of color I will give it more time. This gives the plants more light and they settle down. Some of the larger seedlings are transplanted from a 50 cell flat to a 20 cell flat.

    I prefer bright light to a lot of direct sun. There's not a lot of soil in a 50 cell flat compartment and I 'm concerned too much direct sun will dry them out before the next watering. I mulch heavily under the flats so the roots will pull out intact when I bump them up. The seedlings will remain in this area until early fall. By this time they have been culled down to 40 to 50. These plants are moved to another area close by with similar light conditions. Bottom line, your plants will tell you if your light is right.
     
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  9. annafl

    annafl Esteemed Member

    Well, you are teaching me a lot. My seed clusters are tiny then in comparison. Maybe in a couple of years. So bright light, with perhaps a little bit of shifting direct sun, even when they are six inches or better. Then judge by how they are doing? When you said thinning them out because they are leggy do you mean culling them, or putting them in a larger compartment with more soil? Also, how do you feed your seedlings and how often? Sorry for all the questions, Jerry. The more you write, the more I realize I have more questions. Keep writing, thought.
     
  10. kwmarko

    kwmarko Active Member

    Messages:
    126
    Location:
    key west
    I was curious if there is a general ballpark time for the seeds to germinate,
     
  11. kwtimo

    kwtimo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    586
    Location:
    key west, fl 10b-11
    Mark, in my experience, if they are potted intentionally they come up rather quickly, like within the first two weeks
     
  12. kwmarko

    kwmarko Active Member

    Messages:
    126
    Location:
    key west
    Thanks Tim, last week Started a group od seeds that were a cross of Madam Fernand Kohl pollen, and Bravo female flowers...Also crossed a Fred Saunders with Victoria Golden Bells, seems to me that's an odd couple!!! But they were the flowers I had available... Most of my plants are potted, so I simply align the two infloresences, and those tiny ants have at it in no time!!! Thanks Tim, for your reply.
     

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