I am interested in creating new varieties of heuchera - what would be the best way of doing this?
Hi. Your question was in May and here it is at the end of December, but it sounds as though we are interested in the same thing...hybridizing heucheras. I am a novice at this, but here is what I've been told/read. First you need two different heucheras. Then when they are both blooming, take a flower that has polllen on it, and gently stroke that over the anthers of another flower. You might have to do this several times. The seed from this cross should produce quite a few plants that differ from one another if only a bit. Or, if you are like me. I just gathered seed from a plant I grew last season that was a baby from a packet of F1 seeds. No other heuchera was blooming so the flowers were all self-pollinated. The plant I used, from the F1 seed, is called and F2. So, the seed that I collected from the F2 plant, whom I call Mikey, will be called an F3. I was told that I should probably use another initial rather than F because I don't know wjo their parents were, bit since that original packet was "f", and because I'm not a professional breeder, I'm sticking with F. ha. Mikey has the traits of size, vigor, a long blooming period and a profusion of bloom and a nice clumping habit. He also has nice sized leaves that are green with darker veins. He appears to be somewhat resistant to mildew. I'm hoping that these positve traits will be passed on in some of his babies. My biggest problem is finding other heuchs. that bloom during the same time Mikey does, and that are big enough to gather pollen, or accept pollen. A have. or had one that was so little, I couldn't hardly gather any seed. I read a question dealing with Hosta hybridizing, (my other passion), That suggested you to pot a division, or the whole plant, and grow it in an accessible place, so that when they come into bloom, they are more accessible to reach, and are easier to hybridize, and easy to administer the proper 'aftercare'. I am going to try this with my few hueches. this season. My major worry is that I will mess up growing the babies. I think that I will 'winter sow' one or two trays and leave them outside until they would naturally germinate, and try a few inside with bottom heat and florescent lighting. Let me know how your hybridizing attempts went for you. I am a total novice so if you can correct me, or give me more advise, I'd be super happy to receive it. Oh, one essential thing. One the gardenweb donation site, there are a few species heuchs seeds. I have read where it is always good try a species X a hybrid. I guess this can give you more variety in the babies. Hope to hear from you....SAM