Hybridising.....the journey...

devo_2006March 28, 2007

With a number of recent posts on the topic of hybridising, I thought it may be of interest to post an example of a cross, so we can take the hybridising journey...

As I am relatively new to the field of hybridising, the purpose of this post is to generate discussion, comments, criticism, suggestions, questions, advice.....on the process.

About 3 months ago, I indicated that I was doing some hybridising with Neo. correia-araujoi. Well, since then a few crosses have been made, & I have had the first batches of seed germinate.

One cross was with Neo. Gold Fever. This plant has brilliant crimson colouration, with attractive gold spotting, however, in our conditions, it typically does not develop great form. My goal with this cross is to achieve a large tough landscaping plant with good form...all from the mother plant...

Neo. correia-araujoi

with...the attractive crimson colouration and gold spotting from the pollen parent...

Neo Gold Fever

Just on 3 months from the last of the N Gold Fever pollinations, the berries were ripe, indicated by their colour of a rich chilli red (similar to the photo below), and they pulled out easily from the mother plant.

Seed was squeezed out of the berries, cleaned & dried. Then approx 100 seeds were spread onto a seed raising mix in a plastic container, and the whole thing placed into my little seed raising set up. About 8 days later the first green leaves emerged, and now some 20 days later the second leaves are emerging.

So, stage 1, obtaining viable hybrid seed, has been achieved. Stage 2, I will be trying to maximise growth over the next 6 months (our winter) so that seedlings will be ready to plant out by say October (suggestions....). Then they will get the benefit of our summer growth, so by March '08 I should be able to make the 1st cull....! I expect many of the batch will be mid size plants with washed out mamoration. So I will only keep seedlings that show fastest growth and early colour.

Will post an update in say 3 to 4 months to see how the batch of seedlings has progressed.

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bambi_too(5 Ohio)

Congratulations on your first sucessful cross. I'm looking forward to watching their progress. which makes me want to ask a question.

How long do you need to grow a plant to make sure it has reached its full potential?

I'm sure you can eliminate some early because they are struggling, but as far as color development, and form goes. Keep in mind that Lisa said BLUSHING TIGER might not have been introduced, and Paul said PRAIRIE FIRE might not have been introduced if they hadn't gorwn so well for Michael. Which brings about another question.

Should plants showing potential be sent off to others to see if the improve under better condititions?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 9:32AM
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Bambi some plants are late bloomers and I dont toss them until they are grown 2-3 years..And yes sometimes it takes a more tropical climate to bring the plant to its full potential

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 11:03AM
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bambi_too(5 Ohio)

Just like Daylilys....just like I thought.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 12:53PM
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Excellent photos, Devo! I'll be following that cross with interest too. Don't you love the red color of correia-araujoi's berries? Most Neo berries are white, BTW, so no color change will occur to tell you when they're ripe.

Bambi, how long you wait to cull depends entirely on what traits you're looking for. Some things, like zonation, show up early, and I can cull those seedlings when they're still quite small. In Devo's cross he's looking for vigor, strong color and good marmorated markings, and those things should all be pretty apparent by the time they're half grown. In other crosses it may be form that you're going for, or cup coloration at blooming, or some subtler type of markings or coloration that don't show up until the plant matures. In that case there's no way to evaluate them without growing them out, in fact it is usually recommended that you grow out several generations of pups before you jump to any conclusions, but that's pretty hard to do when you have limited space. I'm sure I've missed out on some interesting late-developing characteristics by culling too early, like spiralling leaf arrangement, but that's just a trade-off I'm willing to make.

As far as Blushing Tiger, as a zonated plant it jumped out at me while still a small seedling. It was the only one in the grex with those markings. I liked it right off, but for me it tends to lose much of its banding as it matures, which has always been a frustration. Michael and others seem to be able to grow it without it doing that, so that probably accounts for its popularity elsewhere. My local customers have never been particularly impressed with it, but I wouldn't have released it at all if I thought it was worthless.

Don Beadle felt the same way about Bill. Caramba. He said that everybody else grew it better than he did. Talk about a classic plant, and one that is distinctly different from anything that came before it! It's one of his best, in my opinion.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 2:50PM
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Devo, thanks for sharing. I was most interested as I started on the propagation trail at much the same time as you. I must admit though that you are certainly more goal orientated than me. If you read my post on Polka Dot you will know that I really set out without any major goals and did not consider the final results of my propagating. As a result I have many hundreds of small seedlings and will need to make some tough decisions when they have outgrown their present containers, 41 in all. The one thing I can be proud of is my recording of what I have done. I at least labeled every batch and put the records on the computer. If I survive the growing plant deluge next time I will certainly show more restraint - quality not quantity.

I also will await with interest your future postings.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 8:01PM
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Yes...the colour is quite superb...they look good enough to eat...LOL.... And it is very satisfying to pluck out a fat ripe berry...imagining the potential it contains...

In my experience, plants that produce these coloured berries also seem to be the fastest to ripen. Neo's will often take 6 - 9 months, in our climate, before the seed is ripe. However, the few that produce these bright red berries will ripen within 3 - 4 months.

When to cull is an interesting point, and very cross will be different. Years ago I was given some advice from a seasoned hybridiser, he said..."Grow everything to maturity...you will always get a few surprises when they flower..." However, lack of space is always an issue, and with something like this Gold Fever cross, I have no desire to add to the proliferation of mid size marmorated Neo's. My 1st cull will take out anything that I consider is undersize, and anything that is still plain green. So the largest seedlings, with some marmoration will be grown on to see how they develop.

Another of my crosses to N. correia-araujoi was Neo. Royal Hawaiian. Now this could produce some interesting plants. So, I intend to follow the wise hybridisers advice, & grow this batch to maturity, just to see what develops. RH has deep purple colouring, nice red nails, with defined spines, and can develop good form. RH does not seem to have been used too much in hybridising (to my knowledge), only found 1 match to one of Sharon's hybrids...which is a little surprising...but as it has only recently been 'formally' registered, it could well be circulating under another name...?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 8:12PM
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RH is one I am using :)

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 8:27PM
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mike4284m(z10b Ft. Lauderdale, FL)

It's nice to see everyone jumping in and doing a little hybridizing of themselves. I think as long as you have the patience and the right eye it seems like it can be very rewarding. I was thinking of dabbling a little myself. We do have a great source of information in Lisa so we're pretty fortunate.

I know it was mentioned before that using albo-marginated neos as seed parents leads to albino offspring. Are there any other pearls of wisdom like that? Someone on palmtalk.org started a thread about "cytoplasmic inheritance" with regards to seed and pollen parents. Although DNA will come from both sources the seed parent will almost soley contribute other cellular organelles that contain their own DNA, including chloroplasts. It would be interesting to dissect some of these "pearls of wisdom" to see if you could figure out the genetic basis for them.

Sorry about the ramble! It's the bio nerd in me.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 11:43PM
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Devo, I'm betting that c-a x RH will be another good cross. Your best offspring should have a wide leaf, darker color, and a nice red fingernail, but the spotting will likely be finer dots. Please keep us posted on that one too.

Mike, about cytoplastic inheritance and organelles I know nothing! I don't even know about chromosome counts, which seem to play a big part in breeding programs in other species, but there just isn't much info on the broms so for me it's strictly seat-of-your-pants flying! If it works it works, and if it doesn't I make note of it and move on.

Are you implying that the seed parent is genetically dominant over the pollen parent? I've heard that stated before but my experience has never borne that out. Certain traits tend to dominate whether they come from the seed or pollen parent. I've done some crosses both ways and seen very little difference in the outcome.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 2:20PM
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mike4284m(z10b Ft. Lauderdale, FL)

Lisa - Whether a particular chromosomal gene is dominant or recessive should not depend on whether it came from the seed parent or pollen parent, at least I don't see how it could. But, the seed parent contributes other genetic information that the pollen parent does not. Without getting into specifics, there are some genes for parts of cells that are not contained in the normal chromosomes, such as the genes for chloroplasts or mitochondria. These genes are contributed by the seed parent to its offspring while the pollen parent does not, since the pollen itself is basically lacking these. So when two plants are hybridized there is a small amount of genetic material that is only contributed by the seed parent and should always be expressed if the offspring.

Who knows what traits we see in broms can be contributed to these "other" genes. Maybe there isn't a whole lot. People were commenting in the other forum that a palm cross of say AxB has certain characteristics that a cross of BxA does not.

This is not only the case for plants but for people as well. Some people that have taken biology classes or even watched those CSI shows might know that all of your mitochondrial DNA was passed down to you from your mother. Since mitochondrial DNA is more stable that chromosomal DNA it is often used for DNA testing.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 2:58PM
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That's interesting, Mike. I'm just wondering what the practical implications might be.

There seems to be a correlation between what's going on in the maternal plant's leaf margins and what goes on in its ovaries. Apparently both tissues are derived from the same cell layer, which accounts for the albino seedlings from albomarginated seed parents. The same plant can be used as a pollen parent with no problems. There are some potential practical implications here, but I'm not going to expound on them any further until I've had a chance to explore them myself! ;-)

    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 3:56PM
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mike4284m(z10b Ft. Lauderdale, FL)

I don't know what or how much the implications might lead to. Perhaps this has little influence with bromeliads.

However, I think if a retired molecular biologist were to pick up hybridizing broms as a hobby we'd see some pretty amazing stuff :o)

    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 4:32PM
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Many hybridisers are and have been biologists. I for one would love to see amazing stuff

    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 8:55PM
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bob740(zone 6 ,NY)

Gosh,Lisa & Mike....I was just going to say everything you two just said,....(whatever it was)...but you beat me to it !
Bob ;^)

    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 9:30PM
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Any update photos?

I'm just starting out trying to cross neos, two of my favourite plant are Neo.GeeWhiz and Neo.RedGold which have the same parents - Cruenta Rubra x MorrisHenryHobbs - I think they could be a good mix for a landscape plant cross.


    Bookmark   October 26, 2008 at 7:12AM
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Hi everyone - Yes Devo, as Rick says, "Any update photos yet"? - As someone who started dabbling in seed raising just a few years back, I watch these posts with much interest, after all they are what caused me to expand from a "one off" attempt at growing brom seed to where I am now, (over-run with little seedlings) and loving every minute of it. Thanks to all you hybridists for all the valuable information that has started me on this stimulating pursuit. By the way, what's happened to Bob? I haven't seen any of his posts of late. All the best, Nev

    Bookmark   October 26, 2008 at 3:54PM
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Hi Guys

Devoooooo where are the progress pics? Come on mate!

Rick: I tried Geewhiz X Grace darling and the other way last season. Geewhiz didnt produce a seed but I have plenty from the reverse!



    Bookmark   October 27, 2008 at 4:33AM
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Hi Rick & Nev, this was my first post on hybridising with correia-araujoi, I've done a couple of updates since, the last one was in June'08 titled "Hybridising c-a update". But if you want another I'm happy to oblige...I've just potted up a number of c-a hybrid seedlings, so I'll take a few pic's & set up another update.

Rick, I've found that Gee whiz is a great plant to use in hybridising. Here's one of mine that flowered last season, it was the fastest growing seedling in the grex (some of which you can see below) & the first to flower. The plant was a bit lanky, & did not have a great rosette, but at over a meter in diameter, it was a biggie. And now the pups already look to be developing better form.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2008 at 4:47AM
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thanks for the info on GeeWhiz.


thanks for the follow up post, my GeeWhiz finished flowering about a month ago, I'll have to wait for the pups to grow up and try a cross next year.


    Bookmark   October 27, 2008 at 5:17AM
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Devo, what is the other parent of your Gee Whiz cross above?

The interesting thing about GW is that it seems to be a bit of a blank slate, i.e. capable of promoting the other parent's agenda without imposing too much of its own. This makes for some varied and sometimes unexpected offspring.

*(note: Wine and Gold should not have been included in the link below. Its true parents are chlorosticta and Sunrise, not GW and smithii as listed on FCBS)

Here is a link that might be useful: some Gee Whiz crosses

    Bookmark   October 27, 2008 at 3:12PM
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Hi Devo, Thanks for the pics and I look forward with interest to your next update. Wow! over one metre across, where will you ever put them all? With plants that size I expect you will need to do some serious culling. All the best, Nev.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2008 at 3:49PM
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Lisa, the other parent was melanodonta. My aim was to achieve a tough neo with the dark spines, leaf edges, leaf tips, & form of melanodonta, with the size of Gee Whiz. The one pictured above was the 'weed' of the grex, & while large, doesn't really have the markings I'm looking for. But a few others in the grex are looking better, so they will be grown on until they flower. This cross was done in Feb '04, so I long time to wait for what I would now consider to be mediocre type plants. And you're right Nev, there has been some serious culling over the years...it has become a bit of a routine now...everytime the front lawn needs a mow, I grab a number of plants that I've decided to cull, throw them on the lawn, & mow over them, this leaves no chance for second guessing!

Cheers, -Andrew.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2008 at 5:38PM
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Here is a Gee whiz hybrid that I didn't cull
Currently its 13 inches tall and 16 inches wide. time will tell if it is a keeper

    Bookmark   October 27, 2008 at 7:10PM
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