Lycoris Breeding: A Short Example on Outcomes

Lycoris radiata, L. sprengeri, L. xHaywardii, L. 'Flaming Dragon'
A comparison of Lycoris radiata, sprengeri, haywardii, and ‘Flaming Dragon’
Please take note of the photograph when reading the explanations.

For so many years, now, I’ve been interested in the combined art and science of plant breeding. I have also been encouraged by the fact that one does not have to be a great scientist to participate in what is also art. &#59;) This short essay is simply given to show the potential results one can come up with when manipulating genes in flower bulbs. No, I did not design a new variety, here. This example is based on work by nature and others.

When taking the pollen from one parent (male donor) and dusting it onto the stigma of the other parent (female, seed donor), if these plants are related and/or compatible can serve to make progeny that have qualities from both parents. This process, naturally, can become very complicated and convoluted, depending on the history of one or both parents.

In today’s illustration, long ago, Lycoris radiata var. pumila (Illustrated as “A") became the female parent accepting the pollen from “B", L. sprengeri, or vice versa. The result of this cross brings about offspring that look like “C", L. xHaywardii. If one were to have their own parental representatives, s/he could get A+B=C. Written properly, the cross would be transcribed like so:

  • Lycoris radiata var. pumila x L. sprengeri

The first representative is always the female, and concerning the progeny L. xHaywardii, we can assume for now that the cross could be switched to get a similar result. Sometimes maternal genes can have some influence on the results, but I don’t know if that is the case here.

Finally, enters “D", L. ‘Flaming Dragon’. This is a hybrid of unknown (by me) origins, but I would like for you to note the strong similarities it shares with L. xHaywardii, except in richness of color. I introduce this beautiful specimen mainly to speculate on possibilities. Not knowing its actual genetic makeup, I could easily surmise it is the result of a similar cross, or possibly a crossing back to one of the parents.

How could it be a similar cross with colors so rich? Well, I am only speculating, but, when I look at Lycoris radiata var. pumila, I see much consistency in morphology. L. sprengeri, on the other hand can have varying richness in pinks and/or blue tepal (petal) tips from one plant to another in a population.

Do you have flower bulbs in the garden? Why not do a little dab here and a little daub there? Wait for the seed to ripen, plant it, and see what you get. If you have two species, all the babies will be the same (assuming bees or other pollinators didn’t help you out). If one or two varieties is involved, LOOK OUT! Every baby will be different. If you don’t have the time to study up on all the do’s and don’t’s related to plant breeding, try to remember the basic rule of thumb to cross kind with kind; Lilies with Lilies, Daylilies with Daylilies, etc. However you choose to go about it, be patient, because seeds take time to ripen and seedlings take anywhere from 1-3 years to reach flowering size, but I’ll GUARANTEE YOU that you will experience the excitement you did as a child when finding something new and previously undiscovered.


# Felix on 02/23/09 at 11:05

Very inspiring article that fueled my creaticity. I am very familiar with crossing tomatoes, but I hve atually never done it flowers. Looks like it will be an interesting season ;-)

Thanx for the article.

# Flowers on 04/17/09 at 12:08

Nice post and you have some great tips and advice at your site about flowers…

# Sending Flowers on 04/21/09 at 16:19

Do you know of any gardening books with how to breed plants? This post was very interesting to me, and I’d like to learn more!

# [Member]   on 09/20/09 at 14:48


I’ve not come across any basic plant breeding books, but one can learn more than they ever needed to know from Allard’s, “Principles of Plant Breeding", if you can find a copy. You might find what you are looking for, though, at the website entitled, “Plant Breeding as a Hobby". I’ll post it on my Links page.

# pollen on 08/04/10 at 10:23

thanks a lot for this article. usefull

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The hope of this blog section is to supply useful information and insights into choosing the right flower bulbs for your situation, how to grow them, and ideas on how to help nature along, even cheat the natural order, so as to improve flower bulbs for your gardening pleasure.


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