Monday, November 1, 2010

Here they come!!!! The Year's Crop of New Hybrids Begin to Bud

"Take thy is thy pencil. Take thy seeds, thy plants...they are thy colors." William Mason

When it comes to artistic talents, as the quote above implies, I definitely have to rely on my little collection of plants to showcase my "creative" talents.... Assuming of course, that I have any talents. But, for reasons not fully understood, Petrocosmeas have finally decided to hybridize for me. After ten years of attempts and struggling to get even a single seedpod, or a single seed for that matter, the last few years have allowed me a bit of luck.

Last year, I harvested seeds from 14 different hybrid crosses. Of course, I don't have the space to grow them all, but I did plant a few, and the rest are stored in the freezer for another season. The cross which I am most excited about is shown below...P. forresttii x P. minor smooth leaf form.

The largest, and first, of eleven plants from the cross to make buds! P. forresttii x P. minor smooth leaf form was a cross that I made with the goal of getting the round, glossy leaves of P. minor on a small, neat plant like forresttii. So far, the plants look a lot like P. forresttii, but the leaves are rounder, and that lovely glossiness of P. minor is certainly showing up in varying degrees among the seedlings. A couple show very little of it...and look much more like P. forresttii...but the majority do show the clear influence of P. minor in the leaves. Some are staying quite small, others growing larger. The largest, pictured above, is now 4.25 inches in diameter.

While the seedlings are showing great promise of meeting my goals for the foliar characteristics hoped for in this cross, the final test with this, as with ALL of the P. forrestii crosses so far is.... "will the inflorescences, or pedicels, be short and strong, like P. minor (lets hope!!!) or will they be long, wiry and with P. forrestii ( boo, hiss, hiss...) . P. forrestii, unfortunately, has proven to be dominant with regard to the thin, wiry, messy, tangled pedicels. While I do like the individual flower characteristics of P. forrestii's flowers, I am clearly NOT a fan of the habit of those pedicels it produces. One last concern for this cross will be the flower count. P. forrestii can be quite easily flowered, and quite floriferous, while P. minor often can be a bit shy to produce a heavy bloom count. Thankfully, both of these species very rarely produce suckers, so that standard goal of my hybridizing program will hopefully not be an issue with these youngsters. Still, one of the joys of hybridizing for me has never knows what the combination of genes from two gesneriads will produce.
I'll keep you posted!