Saturday, November 21, 2009

Saving a Daylily After Treatment with Colchicine

Hello Daylily Friends,

Several days ago I mentioned that the most significant step in trying to accomplish "plant-conversion" is to be able to save the daylily following treatment. I am going to go through some of the efforts that I have made in trying to convert WAXEN SPLENDOR. I might note that this is an arduous journey because I made the same effort during the early spring of 2009, but my efforts were in vain. All of the WAXEN SPLENDOR that I treated went backwards and simply died. It is true, in my humble opinion, that some daylilies are easier to convert than other daylilies. Sometimes success depends on the season when the application of Colchicine takes place. Sometimes success depends upon how well the daylily has been dried both before and after treatment. Sometimes success depends on whether the Hybridizer has given full attention to the conversion effort. Has the Hybridizer done all that could be done to keep the daylily alive during the initial weeks following the conversion effort. Sometimes all is lost because the Hybridizer has "cut" the daylily too deeply before treatment. Sometimes the daylily is not cut deep enough. There are a myriad of reasons for failure. We can't know the answers to all of the questions that may arise; we simply keep trying until we find a path that seems to work, and then try to keep following this path. I am now showing WAXEN SPLENDOR when it was first "cut," and I also showing WAXEN SPLENDOR after the first application of Colchicine.

The next step was the "period-of-treatment" that took place over five days. I kept a journal of the dates and times of treatments, and here is what is shown in my journal:

Monday, November 2, 2009.
Treatments at 10:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009.
Treatments at 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009.
Treatments at 11:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Thursday, November 5, 2009.
Treatments at 9:00 a.m. and 4:15 p.m.
Friday, November 6, 2009.
Treatments at 7:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

At one time I would only treat daylilies with Colchicine for three (3) days. However, last spring I treated one plant for five days because it did not absorb as much of the Colchicine as I would have liked, and so I kept up the treatment process for five (5) days. I had total success, and achieved a fully converted daylily. So, I now treat over the course of five days. I like to treat the plant only once each day, but as you can see from the above schedule, I treated WAXEN SPLENDOR twice a day.

I would also add that I did not water WAXEN SPLENDOR for about 15 days before treatment. The plant was dry at the time of treatment, and because of this it just "gulped-down" the Colchicine.

So, just to review. WAXEN SPLENDOR received no water after October 17, 2009. Then, from November 2 to November 6, WAXEN SPLENDOR was treated with Colchicine. The week following the treatment process I removed some of the outer rings. By November 19, 2009, WAXEN SPLENDOR had grown out of the Colchicine treatment process, and was indeed showing new growth. I am showing a picture. You would think that if I just left the plant alone that it would simply grow into a tetraploid. I have certainly thought this many times, and many, many times I have been "mistaken." What must be done is a "radical-treatment." The growth rings must be cut back so that basically only the growing tip is seen. I know, this sounds so harsh and difficult. What I normally do is start with my Tweezers. I just cut and pull the foilage away, coming closer and closer to the growing tip. I try to keep the plant perfectly clean, insofar as this is possible, and thereby avoid disease. This is not easy; indeed, it is tedious.

After using the Tweezers I often turn to my "Exacto Knife" to complete the cleaning process. The Exacto Knife removes plant material that the Tweezers cannot excise. The Exacto Knife should be clean, but I confess that my Knife does not look clean although it indeed is clean. You must be careful with the Exacto Knife because it is so sharp. You do not want to hurt the crown, and you must avoid any injury to the growing tip. Once the daylily is clean you are then ready to apply any type of chemical that will help keep disease under control. I do not presently know the manufacturer of the chemical that I am using, but it is effective. I believe that it helps to keep disease from forming. Nevertheless, I must say that there is no "magic-bullet" in this process. Indeed, although conversion work is real science in action, it is also a "risk-filled work of art." The Hybridizer must use science to achieve a conversion, but the skill of the Hybridizer is the element that can't be quantified. Also, as I mentioned earlier, every daylily seems to be different. Some just seem so easy to convert while others just refuse to be converted. If I achieve a partial conversion, I often go back and re-treat the plant. Re-treatment works!

The next step in the process is perhaps the most difficult. When trying to convert a daylily I must say, "Water is a necessary enemy." Water must be used to help the daylily to grow again, but when water is applied the daylily then must decide whether it will convert. Often, the answer is "no," and the daylily simply concedes to disease and dies. Sometimes it will partially convert; and then sometimes the goal is achieved: A full Tetraploid Conversion! I could tell by handling the WAXEN SPLENDOR daylily that it could not live much longer without water. So, I put my hose nozzel on "stream," and lightly went around the edge of the pot and applied water. I was careful to keep the water only around the edge of the pot. You do not want water on the daylily. At this early stage water on the daylily will often mean death to rot or disease. So, move carefully with the water, and then the order for the next week is to do nothing but simply "W-A-I-T."

Tomorrow Diana and I are taking our daughter Kelley and her husband Mike to the Biltmore House in Ashville, North Carolina. We want to go and see the Biltmore house fully decorated for Christmas. Also the trip is a reward for Kelley and Mike. When we return on Tuesday I will know whether or not my efforts with WAXEN SPLENDOR will be rewarded. I will let you know what happens when we return.


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