Hybridizing…Creating your Own Lilies!
One of the most fascinating and rewarding activities connected with lily growing is hybridizing. Every little part of it is fascinating, and you’ll have a “maternal feeling” for your own seedlings, nurturing them with extraordinary pride and care.
The actual mechanics of hybridizing lilies are simple. First, select the parents you will be using. As your breeding experience increases, this is perhaps the most important step, as you learn which lilies make “good parents”.
Collect unopened anthers from a mature bud of the pollen (male) parent. Place the anthers on small pieces of waxed paper until the pollen dry . . . three or four days . . . in a warm room.
If you are not using the pollen immediately, fold the paper and pollen and store in a covered jar in a refrigerator or freezer. Frozen pollen will remain viable for a year or longer.
Select a bud on the seed parent that is just ready to open. Peel back the petals gently and remove the anthers to avoid pollen contamination.
Using a piece of pipe cleaner or cotton swab, generously cover the stigma with pollen from the pollen parent.
Cover the pollinated stigma with a cap of aluminum foil to avoid contamination from other pollen. Label the cross (laundry marking pen) and record it in a notebook.
Gather pods, with labels attached, when just about to open naturally (tops will turn brownish), and spread out in a cool airy place to dry.
When the pods are dry, shuck out the seed, package in labeled envelopes, and store in the refrigerator until time to plant. Dried seed may be frozen too, and will remain viable for years. Plant these precious seeds and wait for them to flower.
No lily, not any in the whole world, is ever as lovely as your first seedling. No matter how many you grow for how many years, ten,twenty, thirty, or a hundred, you will still feel the same excitement and speculative thrill about breeding your own lilies!