Wednesday, May 1, 2013

What exactly is an "Orienpet" Hybrid?

OT, Orienpet and Oriental-Trumpet Hybrids (all the same, just different name descriptions) are lilies that have some Lilium henryi and/or purebred Trumpet lily, such as 'Pink Perfection Strain', 'Golden Splendor Strain', and 'African Queen Strain' in the breeding line.  (Clone vs. Strain: Named Clones like 'Casablanca' are propagated from tissue culture, dividing or scaling and so all are precisely identical, but Strains are group of seedlings from the same cross that show only similar attributes, such as color, shape or blooming time - such as all children of a marriage having a resemblance to one another.)
'Sweetheart' - an early hybrid that tends to have less red centers during warm weather.

Although most will resemble a purebred Oriental lily in appearance and July to early August blooming times, Orienpet lilies are more heat resistant and tolerate alkaline soils better.  Because of the inclusion of yellow-colored Trumpets in breeding, they have made the breakthrough into yellow and red-orange colors.  All can take full sun in most areas and are not affected by the occasional 105 degree heat blast, but these flowers last longer on the stem if summer temperatures tend to hover around 100 degrees, and especially longer if given afternoon shade.  

Telling these newer hybrids apart from regular Oriental lilies can be difficult. 

'Ormea' - smaller flowers - and nice for meditative gardens because of the subtle color.

To the casual eye, especially mixed within other Oriental lilies, the entire bed may appear to be similar in colors, shapes and growth habit.  One notable difference is the tendency to have sturdier stems and more substance - or thickness - to the petals.  These heavier stems of Orienpets can be the size of a 25 cent coin and because of that, it means they rarely need staking, plus most average only 4 feet tall. Thicker petals also mean longer-lasting flowers, a real bonus for warmer climates.  In general, if the color is yellow or has yellow and red tones together, the bulb is an Orienpet.  White fragrant lilies with a gold or yellow band down the center is an Oriental or Lilium auratum hybrid.

Many of the newer hybrids have very large flowers, but a few like 'Ormea' have smaller, upfacing blooms, which make them easier to arrange in smaller floral arrangements. Orienpets with recurved flowers like 'Scheherazade', 'LeVern Friemann' and other 'Black Beauty' Hybrids are more difficult to use in vases unless only using a single bloom in a bud vase or if the display is massive enough to utilize entire stems.  Their grace and tendency for the 'Black Beauty' Hybrids to produce taller stems makes for a stunning accent or back of the border placement. 

The most striking difference is the fragrance.  

Purebred Oriental Hybrids tend to have a sweet, almost carnation-spice scent.  Although there can be differences, most of the newer Orienpet Hybrids are generally more similar to the familiar "Easter Lily" or Trumpet lily fragrance.  Hybrids of 'Black Beauty' however, tend to a much light scent, probably because of the suspected Lilium speciosum in it's breeding background.  People who tend to be sensitive to fragrances usually prefer the spicier Orientals or hybrids of 'Black Beauty', rather than the "heavier" scent of the large-flowered Orienpets.  

The famous 'Black Beauty', very light fragrance.

Planting is the same as any other lily; locate in an area of well-drained soil, dig deep enough so that these cultivars have 5 to 6 inches of soil over the top of the bulbs.  Set individual bulbs at least 6 to 8 inches apart to allow room for growth, because when settled into their location, Orienpet (or OT Hybrids) can be softball sized and will need room to expand.

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