Monday, April 26, 2010

Hybridization of New Varieties of Lilies

Dutch hybridizers are gilding the lily, upgrading the cut flower favorite that also brings such long-lasting beauty to gardens. New varieties with deeper tints, stronger stems and softer fragrances are entering the market.

Breeders like lilies hybrids can be crossed and their progeny sold more quickly than other bulb flowers, like tulips, that may require a decade or better to develop. Gardeners like lilies because the bulbs are so easy to grow. They bloom for a long time.

As perennials, they're troupers, providing years and years of pleasure. They're colorful and often exquisitely fragrant. They have height (and) excel at blooming above other perennials. Shorter varieties are well suited to containers or patio pots.

In earl days lilies came only in four types: Asiatic, Oriental, Longiflorum and Trumpet. Dutch breeders have been actively crossing those types, producing an average 60 to 70 new varieties each year. Most are developed to boost quality and make shipping easier for the cut flower industry.

Names of the new types point to their parentage. "LO" hybrids, for example, are derived from Longiflorum-Oriental varieties and carry traits of both notably large blooms and heavy fragrance. That also goes for the "OA" or Oriental-Asiatics, with their bright colors, shiny foliage and softer scent.