Having fallen in love with a glossy catalogue photo of Young Love, a fresh yet sensuous daffodil, pollinated her stigmas with who knows what combination of mongrel pollen and then carefully collected the 8 resulting seeds from two flowers it was time to wait for fall planting time. I kept Young Love’s seeds, along with the other 60 odd seeds I collected from my sloppy daffodil pollination experiments close at hand. At first I was really excited about the seeds and left them out on the desk drying in small twisty tied bundles of spun row cover material. The material allowed the seeds to dry, but kept them from being scattered. After a while, when the hassle of having them all over my desk outweighed the fetish value of looking at them a lot, I put seeds in a special little catch all basket on the desk where I could still sort of see them. Over time I became excited about or distracted with other things and stopped thinking about my seeds. I only noticed them once in a while when I needed something else out of the basket and was like “oh yeah, awesome!” That seems just as well since I had to wait a few months before planting them. Not to worry, come fall, my excitement was renewed.
In early fall I put the seeds out in the greenhouse. I did a little reading on propagation of daffodil seeds. Over all it seemed that they would grow easily enough, although some of the methods of propagation seemed overly complicated. I opted to plant them about 1 inch deep in flats. I used a technique I sometimes favor for special seeds with is as follows:
*Fill a planting flat about half full with rich flat soil made mostly of sifted compost.
*Follow the flat mix with a 1/2 inch or less layer of sand. (could also be 50/50 sand and peat, but I generally don’t find it necessary to add peat to propagation sand, though it will hold water longer if you do. The seeds can be laid carefully just where you want them on the sand.
*Cover with more sand to the chosen seed planting depth, in my case 1 inch.
This system offers a moist but well drained environment for the seeds with plenty of opportunity for the exchange of air yet with fewer of the moulds, bacteria and critters that are found in the composty flat mix. There is a tradition of planting seeds in sand or sand and peat for germination, but they have to be transplanted out soon after sprouting up because they have no nutrients to thrive on. When the seeds in the stratified flats strike roots, they hit pay dirt very soon and are off to a good start without transplanting. Sown in the flats, labels in place and watered in, there was nothing to do but wait. Read more »
As some of you may remember from the first installment I fell in love with a daffodil last year named Young Love. She was a mail order bride. I was seduced by the photos of her pearly perianth and frilly pink corona. Young love bloomed this April among many other new, and mostly lovely, narcissus varieties. I have to say that she wasn’t as pink as I had dared to hope, though at the same time knew better than to expect; and so it seems to go with pink daffodils in general. But then we don’t always get what is advertised or what we expected through our lustful, advertisement colored, fevered imaginations. Sometimes that may be just as well and what we do get may be as much or more valuable. Young Love did put on a lovely show and, along with all the other Grant Mitsch hybrids, had an excellent, heavy and even almost fleshy substance. When the first of them bloomed (integer) I was compelled to put its superior genes to use somehow and I went about crossing it with other early daffodils blooming at the time. Many mornings from that day through the bloom season I was to be found for a few minutes in mid morning snipping out stamens crusted with pollen from one flower and carrying them around with a pair of tweezers to dabble onto the female parts of another. I crossed whatever I liked the looks of without even looking up whether the varieties I was using were sterile, or virile, or made particularly good parents. Some didn’t fertilize at all but many, no most, did.
When Young Love bloomed I was certainly not going to miss my chance to dabble in her genes. Read more »