Saturday, July 21, 2012

Double-flowered Lilies - Some that are natural, and some not.

Cocktail Twins (Asiatic)
 The typical Lily flower is 6-petaled (more specifically, 3 petals and 3 sepals), in recent years however  hybridizers have selected out clones that genetically favor extra petals formed in the middle of the flower fusing together the filaments and anthers (pollen bearing part) together into sort of a "petaloid" crest.  Some varieties like 'Cocktail Twins' (Asiatic) have just an extra fluff in the center, others like 'Miss Lucy' (Oriental) are more dramatic, with many full-sized narrow petals.

Catalog photo - most representative of the flower.

One of the problems of breeding such Multi-petaled Flowers is that most are sterile - they do not produce pollen to use on another double flower - and the breeding records from hybridizers are always closely held trade secrets. 

See the three different photos of 'Miss Lucy'?

'Miss Lucy' in a cool summer.
Hybridizer's promotion photograph

In a cool summer, it seems that more "green" shows in the center of the petal and in a "warm" summer the green coloration becomes bleached by the sun before even opening and is either not seen at all or is a very light shade.

The image to the right is a "promotion" photograph, probably grown under precise conditions in a greenhouse, then shot in a studio, showing perfect petals.

Not all double flowers from year to year are due to a genetic "flaw" as it used to be called.  Alternating warm and cold weather can produce doubled flowers on a temporary basis.  Usually, one one or two initial blooms on a stem will be multi-petaled, with the later ones opening normally, as the weather evens out.  There is even a variance from year to year on the named clones. 

The small Chinese Red flowers shown above are Lilium pumilum, the flower on the left is normal, the one on the right side has extra petals.  This is simply weather-related, not any type of mutation that will come back year after year.  The bulbs were left over from last fall and not "discovered" until we were cleaning out the big cooler in preparation for turning off the cooling for the summer, so they were planted very late (late June) and immediately started growing through a short period of warm weather (2 weeks), then back to rain, cold, hail etc.  Some of the stems did not even bloom, because they were planted too late to grow properly, the reason why we advise against planting lily bulbs after Mid May if it can be avoided.  L. pumilum is not available for sale this fall, but should be back for Spring or Fall 2013 planting, along with more Doubles from the Oriental and Asiatic lines. A couple other cultivars available for planting this fall are shown below.

'Little Yellow Kiss'

'Double Strawberry Vanilla'

1 comment:

  1. The small Chinese flower is very refreshing to see. It works well with my Which is by the way give life to a shady nook. :)