The trouble with 'selfs' - true confession time (photos)

kaboehm (zone 9a, TX USA)September 23, 2009

Well, it's time for true confessions, based on a few months of research, conversations, etc. For those non-newbies on the list, recall how excited I was that my Gordie 2006 self was going to bloom late this spring, and then when it did bloom it was a big mystery and was sure that I had somehow forgotten that the neighbor had given me a Vittatum bulb that I had forgotten to label?

Well....several things have happened and it's time to let the skeletons out of the closet and give the newbies some "food for thought"!

1) I really didn't recall planting a Vittatum bulb, but the bloom sure didn't look like my precious H. Gordie (antique bulb that I have a "search" and you'll find the story) - photo below.

2) I spoke with my neighbor and she says she didn't give me a bulb...she gave me seeds (a fact borne out by the fact that now I recall when looking at the bulbs she was offering, I was leery that they had some virus as the leaves had odd blotches and light patches).

3) This led me to conclude that the bulb I had wasn't a Vittatum. BUT...what was it? It sure wasn't my Gordie!

4) I checked the rudimentary logs that I kept prior to last year. From 2008 on they are immaculate with the blooms, crosses, etc. I hadn't really thought about crossing anything before the 2008-09 season because everything bloomed at different times. Somehow when you order 30+ bulbs, and they all arrive within a month of each other, your kitchen can fill up with lots of blooms and you have all sorts of options for crossing!

  1. That meant that the only thing this bulb could be was an H. Gordie self. Photos from 2006 reveal seed pods (not shown here); hence proof that seed was produced that year.

So....what happened?? The final clue was provided by Ruud Berbee yesterday!

H. Gordie (above) is an antique bulb that was produced more than 40 years ago (that I discovered when I did my homework as part of the KAVB Registration paperwork). All of the hybrids that are in existence today are probably 10 times the number that were around in the 1960s and earlier. These early hybrids are what went into the genetic making of H. Gordie; hence, they are logic candidates for revealing themselves in a bloom of a self-pollinated flower. Another example with a bloom that we all know...Minerva. If you self a Minerva, you might get things that look like Minerva, but you won't really get a Minerva, AND you might just get blooms that look like her parents, grandparents, etc. The only way to really get a genetically true Minerva would be through offsets produced by the mother bulb, or (heaven forbid you have to do this) cuttage!

So...even though the self is a perfectly "nice" sure not a Gordie!! Thank you Ruud for making me realize that the bloom is more antique-y than even H. Gordie and it reveals the elegance of his genetic background. I'll still like the ruffly Vittatum-looking bloom, but it will be labeled as (??) as we will never know what it is.

There's your basic amaryllis genetics lesson without having to worry about diploid and triploid!! With all of today's hybrids the possibilities are endless. The gene pool was much smaller 40+ years ago and this bloom is a reminder and a reality check!

Ahhh....I feel better now. I think this confession deserves the purchase of a few bulbs to make me feel better! Remember, our bulbs are full of surpises.

Enjoy them all!



Spring, TX

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As a plant breeder wannabe, it's definitely food for thought! I suppose you could give it its own name, and patent it. Or, if you are just going to use it for further breeding, just call it "un-named seedling". Thanks for the info & eye candy! : ])

    Bookmark   September 23, 2009 at 7:43PM
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kaboehm (zone 9a, TX USA)

It is a Gordie self...but not H. Gordie. Not worth the trouble to name (register) or patent. You could take 100 seeds from a self and get 100 different looking blooms. You should only name something that you can consistantly produce and reproduce...then you have something!!


    Bookmark   September 23, 2009 at 7:53PM
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Regardless of what it is, it has had a very interesting life story to this point. :-) And that's more than you can say for a lot of the bulbs we buy.

But through your learning lesson, you've answered a question that I had about self crosses. That being: can they pull different genetic material (ie: dominant and recessive genes from the parents) to wind up with something completely different.

Thanks for the lesson, Kristi!! Ok, I can leave work early and go home, I learned something new today ;-)

Phoenix Ryan

    Bookmark   September 24, 2009 at 3:32PM
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kaboehm (zone 9a, TX USA)

I actually really like the ruffely petals!! I can't tell you how many times I've heard on this list that people are smitten with a bloom and so they self it hoping to get bulbs that look just like it. The offspring may not look anything like the parent (as in case above)....and just because it has similar characteristics, it's not genetically the same as the bulb...even though the bulb contributed pollen and ovum.

I guess I'll learn more about this in the coming months. I'm not planning on any crosses (this season) as this point in time but may change my mind once I get the shelves in the greenhouse and all the seedlings potted up. Always room for more.

OH...big news...Ruud has offered to take me on a tour of several of the top amaryllis production farms on my trip to Holland! Cool, eh?? He was extremely helpful in my quest to get H. Gordie registered with KAVB!

Can't wait. I'm going to start counting down the weeks....well, guess I'll wait til my big trip to Mexico to celebrate a BIG birthday in November!!

    Bookmark   September 25, 2009 at 8:35PM
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bluebonsai101(6a PA)

Kristi, A very important point to make to everyone!! The further you get away from species the more genes you've got roaming around in there that can choose to pop out at any given can literally generate thousands of new hybrids by just selfing :o) Dan

    Bookmark   September 26, 2009 at 12:19PM
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kaboehm (zone 9a, TX USA)

I was thinking the same thing (about how 1 selfing can result in 100 different type/colors of blooms) when someone suggested that I patent the ruffly Vittatum-like bloom. I do have close to 50 or more Gordie selfs from 2006-2008 and it will be very interesting to see what they look like. The story isn't's just begun!

I am now guessing Vittatum and Minerva were in the background of Gordie...both are old and the colors are similar to Minerva. There are spots in the, it's probably related to Mega Star (Mega Star being younger) as MS has the ring in the throat, but they are a similar color as Gordie's spots. It's very interesting. For the naming I had to list all the hybrids that were similar and how Gordie was different.

Well...we'll see what blooms we get in the spring!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2009 at 7:49PM
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Having a background in canine breeding really helps me with the basics of hippeastrum breeding. Someday, when I'm not so busy with roses and other projects, I'll delve deeper into record keeping and breeding hippeastrums only. I have software for breeding records, but no time to devote to just one plant type.

My husband is a wealth of information on breeding, and I frequently pick his brain. Once I devote myself to breeding just one plant type, his knowledge will really come in handy! He's already very intrigued with the different hippeastrums and other amaryllids I have. He also likes orchids... who knew?!

With our dogs, we've experimented by crunching the gene pool, and we've always kept it as tight as possible... and Kristi's right... the wider the pool, the more chance for strange things to pop up unannounced!

    Bookmark   September 29, 2009 at 11:17AM
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kaboehm (zone 9a, TX USA)

Someone was asking me about "selfs" and I thought I'd bring this post back to life (a day late for Dia de las Muertas).

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 3:35PM
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The only thing I can add to this interesting tutorial is way back in my beginning hippy days I only had one bulb..Orange Sovereign. And, of course I selfed it. I lost most the the seedlings (mercifully) but one that made it looked as I might have expected it to look. A little more frilly on the edges though. I lost this seedling the following summer to rot...of course in those days I know nothing about keeping them on the dry side and didn't use a gritty mix...

I try to be a little more creative these days!


    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 4:13PM
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This info is very helpful!

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 1:09AM
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One of my first Questions at Ruud would be, how can it be that such an outstanding Hybrid as is "Gordie" is not in Commercial-Production any more.
I retrieve comparable venation THROUGH-OUT the whole bloom, but in my H.aulicum Seedlings. The best specimen thereof shows netted venation, even in the middle of the Tepal, where the white midrib would be if there WAS ONE which is, as we all know, not in H.aulicum:

Having shown and considered this - I suddenly PRESUME, that "Gordie" has "at least some" H.aulicum in its parentage.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 7:51AM
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rebecca47(USA Zone 5)

"Selfing" any Hybrid plant (or bulb) will result in a range of colors, patterns and even petal shapes. Usually they aren't quite as nice as the parent, but nature will always surprise us! Out-crossing gives a different set of results because you have added a different gene mix and that result will also be wide ranging, but many will look more like one parent or the other in form, petal shape and other variables. Hippeastrums have been hybridized for HUNDREDS of years so the gene pool is actually pretty complex, so we can't always count on particular traits showing up in the new generation, they have to be able to recombine in ways that make that trait the more dominate one.

If you are working with species, things get a lot more clear, and this is especially true if you happen to be working with the H. cybister hybrids. You know you will get narrow petals as narrow seems to be more dominate over wide/full petals. From all the Cybister Hybrids I have seen/grown, they all tend to be strongly H. cybister in form. Of course there are other "spidery" species that may be in the lineage of these "Cybister Hybrids" and that is were one begins to get wider variations in color, shape and form.

Then there's the H. papilio hybrids. I am still waiting to see blooms from Chico X papilio seedlings, but I suspect they will have to shape/form of Chico and the color/patterns of H. papilio and I hope a bud count of more than 2 (papilio and primary papilio crosses tend to only have 2 blooms, buy mature bulbs do produce multiple stems as well as preferring to have "pups" crowded around the mother bulb - papilio resents being divided).

At the end of the day, whatever forms you decide to breed, the result is always fun! When it no longer ends with being fun, that's when you stop and move on to something else, perhaps other genera in the hippie Family.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 8:05AM
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Perhaps Estrella is in Gordie's parentage? The venation differs from year to year as seen in these pictures and, perhaps Estrella also might have H. aulicum in it's background.

Perhaps when Gordie blooms we might get him together with Estrella is of course you all may remember...but still sets some mean seedpods!
Maybe H. aulicum on Estrella?

My Estrella is still outside in a pot along with 2 other virused bubs..I was considering leaving them out and letting the winter kill them...maybe I'll bring Estrella in today as we are expecting our killing frost within the next few days...


    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 8:25AM
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kaboehm (zone 9a, TX USA)

Or....Estrella and Gordie have similar parentage! They might even have the same parentage! Gordie has spots in the throat and Estrella has "dots".

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 10:50AM
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