Sunday, November 24, 2013

Another Saga in Daylily Conversion.

Hello Daylily Friends,

When I'm going to treat a daylily, to convert it from a diploid to a tetraploid, I first position the plant in a trade-gallon pot so that the plant sits up high in the pot.  I want the area just above the roots to be easily reached so that I can trim the daylily without digging in the dirt.  I grow the daylilies for several months, making sure that the roots mostly fill the pot.  If the daylily grows sideways, which it often does, I try to straighten it in the pot.  This is important because the plant needs to be level, if possible, when ultimately receiving the Colchicine.  It is also important to keep the soil free from any pests such as gnats.  Before treatment process begins, I keep my daylilies "dry" for at least two weeks.  This is important because when the daylily is cut I do not want to have moisture around the "growing tip."  I want the plant dry, so that when the Colchicine is applied, it will be easily absorbed.  The first step is to cut away the foliage using common scissors.

Having the Colchicine ready to use is very important.  I always have two empty bottles:  One bottle that holds 400 milliliters, and a second bottle that holds 200 milliliters.  I also always have a syringe that I use to mix the DMSO into the Colchicine.  The amount of Colchicine that I use is One Gram.  I mix one gram of Colchicine with 400 milliliters of distilled water, and then add 8 milliliters of DMSO.  I mix the contents, and then pour the contents into a 200 milliliter bottle.  I use the 200 milliliter bottle because this is easier to use during the treatment process.  I should also point out that I do all of this as carefully as possible because the Colchicine is dangerous.  I keep the chemical well under control, and I always wear plastic gloves.  There can be no mistakes when mixing or using the chemicals.

When I begin to "trim" a daylily so that Colchicine can be applied, I am as careful as I can be.  I use glasses that I've purchased from the drug store that give sharper, up close, vision.  I could write and write about how a daylily should be cut, but it is easier just to show the final outcome.  The daylily should not be cut too close to the growing tip, and just as important, the daylily should not be cut too far away from the growing tip.  I try to cut an "oval" around the growing tip, and I cut the area just above the growing tip so that it is lower than the outside foliage.  I then apply the Colchicine.   I know that many hybridizers like to treat daylilies for 3 days, and I do as well, but sometimes I treat them for 4 days.  It just depends on what I see during the treatment process.  I keep the overhead fans on at a low level during the treatment process just to keep air circulation.  I also have a humidifier in the basement that I use to minimize any presence of moisture.

After I cut the daylily and apply Colchicine, I almost always cut the daylily again during the second day of treatment.  I trim back the foliage around the growing tip, and I often again trim the area above the growing tip.  I think that this helps by removing the foliage from the initial treatment that may help cause rot.  I also think that it helps to get the Colchicine closer to the growing tip.  During the initial cutting it is sometimes difficult to see precisely what I've done, although I'm using enhanced vision glasses, and the second trimming just seems to help clarify that I'm where I need to be with the chemicals that are being applied.

After the final treatment of the daylily I wait five days before taking the next step.  This allows the Colchicine to be fully absorbed by the daylily, and gives time for the outside foliage to dry.  I use a number of items to help me remove the foliage from around the area of the growing tip.  Basically, I use a common kitchen knife, a pin knife, and a pair of tweezers.  Again, I would repeat, that I always wear plastic gloves.  I do this because once the Colchicine is mixed with DMSO it is a much more dangerous chemical.  If the mixed chemicals touch the skin the consequences can be serious.  Converting a daylily is important and is fun, but the danger in using the chemicals must be respected. 

So, after the trimming of the daylily, this is what it looks like.  The area around the growing tip is white.  I just use the kitchen knife to pull the material away, and I sometimes use my fingers to dislodge material.  I have had my plastic gloves to rip, and leave my fingers exposed, so I'm very careful to watch what I'm doing.  I also use the tweezers and the pin knife to remove foliage.  The point in doing all of this is to help prevent "rot."  The area where the foliage is removed will dry, and there should not be any further water transference in this area.  I usually wait about a week after the outside foliage is removed before the plant is given any water.  So, the plant has no water for two weeks before treatment, and it has no water basically for two weeks after treatment.  Water can be a problem, and cause rot if it is applied too early following the treatment process.  After the treatment process is completed, I put the plants in front of a fan that runs constantly on either a low or medium setting.

Well that is basically how I treat a daylily to get it converted.  The remainder of the process is simply to keep the daylily alive.  Cut away any excess foliage, keep the gnats and pests away, temper the use of water, and do all that you can to help the daylily ultimately become a useful and productive tetraploid parent.



  1. Dear Bill, Thank you for this great blog update and all blog, you have wrote. I enjoyed it before, but never understand well what is what. Now is that time, when I fully understood and now I can search for those chemicals and start to think about my first convert process. I have seen a lot advices, articles and photos about this work in few days time, but yours is the best to understood and to use in practical way. Thanks again. Good luck,

  2. Thanks Ed. I would add that I write down each time the daylilies are treated, and I keep to a tight schedule such as when to water. I would love to water today, but I have to wait at least two more days.

    Thanks for your note.


  3. Wonderful pictures and tips as usual Bill!

  4. Hello Bill,
    This a great entry showing the conversion process. I was wondering how many times a day you treat your plants in the 3 day period? Is it just so there is always some colchicine solution on the plants throughout the 3 days, or do you do it on a schedule (e.g. every 3 hours)? Also, when do you convert dormants - Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter?

  5. Bill, thank you very much for your publication about the conversion. I reread them many times and always get great pleasure from your information.
    Best wishes in the work.