Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hybridizing - The Ultimate Thrill

For me, the ultimate thrill of hybridizing has been seeing my own creations exhibited by other growers in a show. At the recent AVSA Convention show in Cherry Hill, NJ, my friend, mentor and exceptional gesneriad grower, Paul Kroll, entered my hybrid 'Keystone's Magic' and won a blue ribbon in the flowering Petrocosmea class. Paul does such a great job with Pets, and this plant was beautiful. Soon after I arrived, Paul came over to tell me that he'd entered a couple of my Pet hybrids in the show. We were both happy with the result.

P. 'Keystone's Magic' is from a cross between rosettifolia #3 and sericea. The cool thing about this plant is that it is showing multiple flowers on each cyme. Both parents, for me, have always had a single flower, rarely two, per cyme. That's a fun aspect of hybridizing with Pets.... I never know what's going to develop. A couple of the cymes on Paul's plant have six flowers per cyme...which shows great potential at increasing the flower count on hybrids. The flowers were larger than in either parent and with several per cyme, I thought the cymes did a nice job of holding the flowers upright.

The flower color on 'Keystone's Magic' is a lovely silvery lavendar, with three yellow stripes in the throat of the corolla. The flowers contrasted nicely with the dark foliage.. My only disappointment was, and always is, the suckering. Many Pet species form suckers at the same time they are forming flower just as you are about to have a flowering plant, the symmetry of the rosette is all distorted.... but, other qualities of the plant made me overlook the suckers this time. Rosettifolia suckers a lot, so I always expect that in the hybrids...although with hybridizing, suckering does seem to be diminished in the hybrids, compared to what the species does.

Thanks also to Dale Martens, for taking the lovely photos and for sharing them. I was not expecting to get to see the show, as work was causing me to leave soon after my talk. ...but I did get to see the show, as a surprise. So lesson learned.... Don't ever go anywhere near a show without my camera!!!