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How to Hybridize A Lily

How to Hybridize A Lily on hosa.com

It takes a steady hand and patience for this love connection

Once upon a time, lilies weren’t exactly the flowers we know today. They were temperamental and, depending on the variety, difficult to grow. Some liked damp woodland locations, while others preferred well-draining soil and full sun; some were fully fragrant but short-lived, while others with powerful scents were prone to fungal infection. Nearly all of them preferred their native habitat, rather than being grown elsewhere.

Hybridizing, though, saved the day.

Hybridization 101

In brief, hybridizing means creating a plant with the most desired traits of the parent plants. Before hybrid varieties became a thing, this process was often left to the pollinators who would transfer pollen from the anthers (the male organ) to the stigma (the female organ).

At some point, humans figured out they could lend a helping hand – and do a better job of it by controlling the pollination process to avoid any contamination. This was essential to achieve breeding success for fragrance, hardiness, bloom size, and color.

In the 1930s, Jan de Graaf, a Dutch immigrant living in Oregon, was one of the first breeders to achieve some success. It wasn’t until the 1950s, however, that healthy hybrids on a commercial scale became available to the public.

LA Hybrids are stars

Perhaps one of the most popular hybrid lily today, particularly as a selection in a bouquet, is the LA Hybrids. Despite its name, the LA Hybrids have nothing to do with Los Angeles. Instead, this lily is a cross between Lilium longiflorum, the “L” in the name, and Asiatic Hybrid lilies, the “A.”

  • Lilium longiflorum, more familiarly known as the Easter lily, is responsible for larger, trumpet-shaped blooms that are slightly fragrant, as well as longer vase life.
  • The Asiatics provide warmer bloom colors and an upright calyx, so flower head faces upward.

A bigger bloom from Oriental hybrids

Two of the reasons to hybridize a lily is bloom size and fragrance – and no other hybrid lily illustrates this better than the Orientals.

The result of crossing various interspecific hybrids with species lilies, the Oriental are famous for their dramatic presence in the landscape and the bouquet. Flowers can measure up to 9 inches, and the scent of one bloom can easily fill an entire room.

Fun for the home gardener

Because lilies and their male and female organs are large, it’s relatively easy for the novice gardener to hybridize lilies at home. All it takes is some basic knowledge of lily biology, a steady hand to transfer the selected pollen from one plant to the stigma of another, and patience. If the pollination is successful, it can take up to three years for any resulting seeds to produce flowers.

Another option is to enjoy the flowers from a quality grower like HOSA International. We feature two outstanding hybrid selections, LA Lilies, and Oriental lilies. Both come in a wide variety of bold colors, warm tones, and pure white.

For more information about HOSA, our flowers, our policies, and what we can do for you, or to place an order, call us at 305.470.9991 or complete our online form.

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Flower Distributor

Flower Distributor