Tetraploids to Cross with Native Flame Azalea?

mikeybobMarch 14, 2006

I have native flame azaleas (R. calendulaceum) on my property, and one of them has flowers that stand out because they are so brilliantly orange! I think it might be fun to cross this plant with other azaleas, but as I understand it, my native flame azalea is a natural tetraploid and it won't easily cross with most azaleas because they are diploid.

I starting looking for a list of tetraploid azaleas, and I am finding that it's not like daylilies where they are all classified as to whether they are diploid or tetraploid ... I guess with azaleas it's just assumed they are all diploid unless stated otherwise. Does anyone here know of a list of tetraploid azaleas? And might these tets be crossed with R. calendulaceum?

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Nell Jean

Today I toured a facility where lots of native flame azaleas are featured in the landscaping. I had occasion to speak with the horticulturist. The facility has native azaleas from the collection of a gentleman who did extensive work with native azaleas in the sixties and seventies. Some of the azaleas there are from crosses that he made that have been grown on by others since his death.

I asked your specific question and the answer was that there are no other tet azaleas that he knew of. I even wondered aloud whether azaleas could be 'converted' as daylily hybridizers convert 'tets' to 'dips' and he just chuckled and said he is aware of no new work in this area.

I'll post some of the cultivars that I photographed later.


    Bookmark   March 31, 2006 at 4:23PM
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Nell Jean

Here are the photos from the private garden. It was hard to narrow them to a manageable album, they are so pretty and photograph so well.

Here is a link that might be useful: Native Azalea Slideshow

    Bookmark   April 1, 2006 at 10:39PM
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Nell Jean

Did I say tets to dips? Silly me, of course I meant dips to tets is what the hemorcallis folk do. I'm just an observer.

It has something to do with colchicine, about which I only know as is prescribed for gout.


    Bookmark   April 3, 2006 at 5:56PM
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Hi, Nell ... nice pictures. And thank you for asking the horticulturist about crossing flame azaleas. I did find some info about someone who had created flame azalea hybrids, and it said that the orange would tend to dominate any crosses. Since I already have an orange color that needs no improving, I don't know what my goal would be.

Maybe if I could cross the flame azalea with another intense color, it would be fun to see what the resulting hybrids would look like. Or maybe if I could cross the flame azalea with an evergreen azalea I could see how that went.

I have heard about colchicine, but I believe I read that it can be an unsafe substance ... I think there is a post here somewhere about using a certain weed killer instead of colchicine to induce the mutation. I've never tried anything like that ... but I do think about it from time to time.

And I figured out a trick ... go to azaleas.org and search that site for the word "tetraploid", and you find references to tetraploid azaleas. I see a "Casablanca Tetra", "Road Runner", "Cream Ruffles", "Pink Gloria", "Anytime Tetra", "Guy Yerkes Tetra", "Hershey Red", "Chimes Tetra" ... and also a species "atlanticum f. tetraploid". If anybody here has any of these, I would trade for a budstick that I could force in a vase and get pollen from (things are still dormant in my area).

Here is a link that might be useful: flame azalea hybrid

    Bookmark   April 5, 2006 at 7:36PM
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