Creation of New Cultivars-Hybridizing
Selection of Parents to Produce Offspring With Desired Traits
Hybridizing can be an involved activity that encompasses parent selection, fertility research, hereditary studies, pollination techniques and record keeping, to name just a few. However, it can be simplified or complicated further, depending on the goals of the hybridizer. In simple terms, the goal of the hybridizer is to produce new offspring with desired traits. These wanted traits may take on a myriad of expressions-flower color, plant height, bloom season, flower form, cut flower potential, fragrance, etc…, all determined by the hybridizer and the plants that are chosen as parents. Most peony hybridizers start out by experimenting, without any clear goals, leading them to more focused crosses over time. In any event, hybridizing peonies is fun, rewarding and is a lot easier than most people think, but also requires a considerable amount of patience. Peonies grow very slowly and it takes anywhere from four to six years from the time the cross is made before first flowers are produced. After which point, another one or two years is required before the young plants mature to display flowers that are truly representative. Thus patience is paramount, but the rewards are often worth the effort.
There is no ‘quick’ formula to attaining ‘best’ results, but studying what others have done in the past can help form goals and directions. Hybridizing is as much an art form as a scientific endeavor. Some of the most successful hybridizers have made use of their imaginations and combined scientific data and processes to create some of the peony world’s most stunning plants and flowers. A bit of dreaming is welcome and may help to produce the next best peony!