Society for Horticultural Research 3(3): 111-114 (1968)
THE POTENTIAL FOR PRODUCING NEW AMARYLLIS HYBRIDS
We often hear or even say ourselves that a particular Amaryllis is "close to perfection" or that a specimen in a show had "perfect form". Actually what is meant by such remarks is that the plant under discussion has reached or nearly reached a pre-determined standard. It the standard should be modified, would this same Amaryllis be less beautiful or less desirable to someone unfamiliar with standards? I am inclined to think not. Beauty is a personal interpretation by each individual beholder.
The creation of standards brings together two opposing forces. It stimulates efforts for development in certain directions while it depresses efforts for development in others. Standards definitely tend to upgrade the selection of seedlings, but eventually they have a tendency to stagnate progress. Standards do not take into account the individuals personal interpretation of beauty. Instead they constitute a group concept of beauty or desirability.
Ask a hundred gardeners at random if they grow Amaryllis. You may be surprised to find that those who do are in the minority. While you are at it, ask those who do why they like them and those who do not why they do not grow them. It may he even more surprising to find that a substantial number of gardeners in both groups will give you identical answers. The very qualities which attract some will repel others. Certainly there is a need for kinds of Amaryllis which we do not have now. To the Amaryllis breeder public acceptance of his results is important. This is not to say that his time is wasted if he pleases only himself.
While contemporary amaryllis breeders have been concentrating on producing flat-faced flowers, the long trumpet species have been neglected. Amaryllis elegans Sprengel and its allies offer great possibilities for the production of a whole class of long-trumpet sorts. Within this alliance there is far more breeding potential than anyone can exploit in a lifetime. A. viridiflora (Rusby) Traub & Uphof, the green-flowered species, and A. elegans var. divifrancisci Cardenas, with its chartreuse flowers, offer tantalizing prospects for green-flowered cultivars in all classes.
Amaryllis striata Lamarck is the easiest of the species to come by. For unknown reasons this species persists in hand-me-down pot plant collections which have been in families for years. The few botanical gardens which grow any amaryllis at all are almost sure to have this one. Occasionally it is offered for sale in southern farmers' market bulletins. Although A. striata is not striking in appearance, it is the first to bloom each year and in combination with some species produces attractive hybrids.
Absence of yellow-flowered cultivars among the Dutch and American hybrids makes Amaryllis aglaiae Castellanos, one of two species possessing yellow flowers, high on a list of desirable breeding stock. A. vittata var. tweediana Herb. belonging to the same subgenus as the two preceding species has somewhat longer flowers which are free from objectionable droop characteristic of this group.
It is believed that Amaryllis leopoldii T. Moore exerted the dominant influence on the large, regular, flat flowers of the modern Dutch hybrids Unfortunately, this species has long been lost to cultivation and its natural range is unknown. In the same alliance there are other species which have left their mark on the garden sorts of today. A. reginae L. is one of them. This species is historically important in that it is one of the parents used to produce A. x johnsonii and countless later hybrids. It seems to transmit to its offspring a degree of tolerance to mosaic virus.
This alliance also contains species which bear little superficial resemblance to the Dutch and American hybrids. Amaryllis evansiae Traub & Nelson and A. starkii Nelson & Traub are among these. A. evansiae is small, ruffled, and graceful. Its cream to pale yellow flowers are a far cry from the large hybrids. A. starkii has extremely regular floral segments; its small, often solitary, upright flowers greatly resemble large rainlilies.
In another subgenus are two species remarkably unlike in appearance; Amaryllis pardina Hook. f., the spotted amaryllis with very regular flora segments, and A. cybister (Herb.) Traub & Uphof, the most irregularly shaped species in the entire genus. As a matter of fact A. cybister was at one time placed in the genus Sprekelia.
The last subgenus contains but two species, Amaryllis reticulata L'Hérit and A. blumenavia (C. Koch & Bouché ex Carr.) Traub. A variant of the first, A. reticulata var. striatifolia Herb., offers the breeders an opportunity to produce cultivars with variegated foliage — there is a white stripe along the channel of the leaf which is most attractive.
Amaryllis blumenavia is a true miniature, its scapes and blossoms being smaller than those of most daffodils. Perhaps here is the answer to those who say amaryllis are too big.
Propagation of the species is easily accomplished by seedage. While it is true that within any given species there is some latitude of variation which shows up in its seedling populations, the characteristics which identify it remain quite constant. To a marked but somewhat lesser degree, the same holds true of first-generation hybrids between two species. Such hybrids are seldom identical, yet their resemblance to each other is sufficient to identify them as members of the group. Seedlings of advanced-generation hybrids, however, segregate in an endless series of variations. Thus for such hybrids propagation must be done vegetatively or by a long process of inbreeding to establish true breeding lines. In either instance, the process is slow and costly.
Because of the ease with which primary crosses between species can be made, it is hoped commercial bulb producers will avail themselves of species foundation stock and produce hybrids from them for the trade.
With this in view i have screened a number of primary-cross hybrids, and I believe the following which have been given grex or group names are worthy of introduction to the trade. All of them can be readily produced in quantity by anyone repeating the appropriate crosses.
The Senorita Hybrids were obtained by crossing Amaryllis evansiae with A. striata. Seemingly the best qualities of both parents are to he found in them. They are easy to grow, flower freely, and present a delightfully airy appearance which is not found in the modern large hybrids. Their color varies somewhat. The basic ground color is cream to pale yellow and is overlaid with a blush of pink which may become more pronounced as the blossoms age. Their three-to-four-inch flowers are often ruffled and vary somewhat in the width of their floral segments. The Senorita Hybrids have drawn more favorable comments than any amaryllis I have ever grown.
Although not a cross between two species, the Kerper Hybrids can be readily produced by seed. They are a cross between Amaryllis vittata var. tweediana and Ludwig's Strain of white Dutch hybrids. The latter parent is quite true breeding and probably resulted from years of meticulous inbreeding.
While the Kerper Hybrids are similar in type to the Dutch hybrids, they are exceptionally free-flowering and vigorous growers. Their huge flowers measure up to eight inches across, yet are completely free from the drooping posture so prevalent in many large-flowering hybrids. The white ground of the blossoms is accentuated by an edging of red on all segments and varying amounts of red flecking. Although the scapes may exceed twenty-four inches in height, they are strong and do not need staking.
Amaryllis hybrids involving A. cybister show distinct kinship to this grotesque species. Three such hybrids, which may well be the vanguard of a new series of garden amaryllis, are deemed sufficiently desirable to name.
The Kell Hybrids, a cross between Amaryllis cybister and A, pardina, bring together the extremes of amaryllis flower-forms. The result is a startling open-faced flower with narrow, channeled segments which are gracefully recurved. The four-and-a-half to five-inch, cream-colored flowers are marked with crimson stripes extending outward from the base of the segments. This pattern is found on both sides of the segments. The inner surface is lightly stippled with minute, crimson dots.
The Emery Hybrids are a cross between Amaryllis belladonna L. and A. cybister. In both color and form they are reminiscent of Sprekelia formossima (L.) Herb., the Aztec lily. Four red, four to five-inch flowers, marked by a narrow, white star, are borne to each scape. The red style and filaments extend well beyond the twisted and tapered flower segments.
The third hybrid involving Amaryllis cybister has as its other parent A. evansiae. Its four-inch, pale yellow flowers form a graceful six-pointed star. The tapering, slightly recurved petals of the Hodges Hybrids are marked by a reddish star in the throat. Two to four flowers are well poised on ten- to sixteen-inch scapes.
The preceding three hybrids have received considerable favorable comment from people who do not grow any amaryllis. Many have remarked that they would make up well as corsage flowers.
Because there are no yellow-flowered modern hybrids I could hardly wait to cross the two yellow-flowered species. One of the most attractive hybrids has resulted from crossing Amaryllis evansiae with A. aglaiae. To my great surprise the progeny of this cross is quite varied in flower color, ranging from chartreuse to pale yellow blush-pink. In many, the blush color develops or intensifies with the age of the blossom. The progeny of this cross, which have been named the Davis Hybrids, bear two to four, four- to five-inch flowers on eighteen-inch scapes. Although the flowers droop slightly, this fault is not serious.
The Kohlmeyer Hybrids are a cross between Amaryllis pardina and A. striata. Their scapes produce two to four orange flowers which measure four to five inches across. Although the parents of this cross have mottled or somewhat striated pigmentation, the Kohlmeyer Hybrids exhibit relatively smooth flower-color. Some individuals of this cross are near white on the back side of the segments. All possess a small, greenish white star in the throat.
I thought it would be interesting to repeat the cross that produced Amaryllis x johnsonii over a hundred and fifty years ago. I could only approximate the cross, since I had to use A. vittata var. tweediana, instead of straight A. vittata with A. reginae. The results produced both the expected and the unexpected. All of the progeny of this cross produced flowers which had the size and form of A. johnsonii and all but a single seedling were colored red like A. x johnsonii. The one exception had the cleanest pink flowers I have seen in an amaryllis. While this clone has not been named, it is being used in further breeding experiments.
The species I have mentioned are a small but representative sampling of the fifty-five species recognized by Dr. Hamilton P. Traub. The hybrids described in this article scarcely represent a start toward exploiting the potential of this fascinating genus of plants.
|Fig. 29. Amaryllis evansiae||Fig. 30. Amaryllis from Bolivia. Lower left, pink form of A. belladonna; others, A. evansiae|
|Fig. 31. A large white flowered Dutch type (left) was crossed with Amaryllis evansiae (right). The hybrid [VII (3) F1] is in the middle. It is interesting to note that we got a pink flowered offspring from a white crossed with a yellow.||Fig. 32 [VII (3) F2]. Representative sample of the progeny.|
|Fig. 33. Amaryllis belladonna I, above left; F2 A. belladonna x White Dutch I (1) cv., 'Mimi Wilson' above right; White Dutch clone used in hybridising by I. S. Wilson below.||Fig 34. Amaryllis cybister [III] above; A. belladonna x A. cybister [I (8)] Emery Hybrids below.||Fig 35. Form variations in Amaryllis evansiae VII above; A. evansiae x A. aglaiae [VII (7) (a)] Davis Hybrids below.||Fig 36. Amaryllis evansiae x A. cybister [VII (5)], Hodges Hybrids above. A. evansiae x A. striata [VII (6)], Senorita Hybrids below.|
|Fig 37. Amaryllis forgetii [VIII] upper left; A. mollevillquensis [X] upper right; A. incahacana [IX] lower left; A. evansiae habitat lower right.|
|Fig 38. Amaryllis pardina [XI] above; A. pardina x A. cybister [XI (3)], Kell Hybrids below.||Fig 39. Amaryllis pardina x A. striata [XI (6)], Kohlmeyer Hybrids above; A. striata [XVI] below.||Fig 40. Amaryllis reginae [XIII] above; A. psittacina [XII] below left; A. reticulata var. striatifolia [XIV] below right.||Fig 41. Amaryllis vittata var. tweediana above left; A. vittata var. tweediana x W.D.-1 [XVIII (3)]. Kerper Hybrids above right. A. yungacensis [XIX] below.|
|Fig 42. Amaryllis elegans var. divifrancisci [VI]||Fig 43. Assorted hybrids. 1. Amaryllis evansiae x A. cybister F2; 2. A. evansiae x A. aglaiae F2; A. vittata x A. belladonna F2; 4 Picotee ...||Fig. 44. Amaryllis starkii Nelson and Traub|