Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Two New Hybrids from Japan

Petrocosmea 'Asa Blue' - a new hybrid with lots of flower power!

New Petrocosmeas always create quite a stir among those who admire and collect them. The genus has proven very difficult to hybridize, so a new hybrid is really exciting. For over a decade, we had only one hybrid Petrocosmea....P. 'Momo', a hybrid between the species P. flaccida and P. nervosa. This hybrid was made by a gentleman from Japan named Nagahide Nakayama and was named for his wife. Now, after many years, he has remade the same cross, and the remake has produced two promising introductions...P. 'Asa Blue' and P. 'Imperial Butterflies'.

I am often asked how I get my new Pets. The answer is that almost every time, they were given to me by a friend. That was the case with these two hybrids when last fall, a friend sent me leaves of both of these beauties. Even as leaves, I could see a lot of differences in the two plants. As they have matured, the differences are dramatic and exciting. It's hard to believe that they came from the same seedpod.

P. 'Asa Blue' looks very much like 'Momo' with a couple of exceptions. The flowers are different, lighter blue and more numerous. This plant really blooms heavily and at an early age. It has proven easy to grow. It was selected by Mr. Nakayama due to its very heavy flowering habit.

P. 'Imperial Butterflies' is a real breakthrough for Pets. It is a much heavier plant in all respects. Leaves have a heavier substance, a slightly serrated edge to the leaves, and the leaves are rounder and larger. But, it is the flowers that are such a knock-out. For starters, they are "double" and have pronounced ruffling of the petals. The color is a darker purple than 'Asa Blue' and the calyx lobes at the base of the flowers have fingers along the edges, giving them a feathery appearance. The flowers often have 10-12 petals, which is more than double the usual number of five petals for a Pet flower. It too, blooms heavily, and the buds appear very early, and the base of each leaf, looking like little grean pearls lying on each leaf. A spectacular "must have" Petrocosmea if you are a fan.

As often happens with hybrids, the flowers of 'Asa Blue' are significantly larger than the flowers of either of it's parents.

Even as a young plant in a three inch pot, P. 'Imperial Butterflies' is a great plant. Every flower is ruffled and has extra petals.

Petrocosmea hybridizing, while in it's infancy, is proving to reveal a surprising amount of variation in the seedlings from the same seedpod. This high degree of variation among the progeny of a single cross gives exciting promise for the future of the genus and those who adore Pets. This photo shows the distinct differences between 'Asa Blue' and 'Imperial Butterflies'...two siblings from the same cross. These two plants are exactly the same age and were grown side by side on the light shelf with uniform culture.
Note: P. 'Imperial Butterflies' was orginally distributed with the cultivare name 'CV-25'. If you have the plant under that name, change the label to 'Imperial Butterflies'.