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- Flowers for the Holidays. 2.

Clivia for Christmas

Most Clivia will not be blooming until late February or early March. The Belgian hybrids we grow come from ID'Flor in Lochristi, Belgium; and some of them, but not all, bloom early in the season. We have a few in bloom right now.

Clivia miniata Belgian hybrid ID'Flor (c) copyright 2009 by Shields Gardens Ltd.  All rights reserved.
Clivia miniata, Belgian Strain

I'm not in Europe to check, but I suspect that there a plenty of Clivia plants in bud or in bloom in florists' shops and supermarkets there right now. Most Europeans who buy blooming clivias treat them as annuals and discard them when the flowers fade. They really should treat them as perennials. I can't believe that people over there have not been specifically breeding clivias to bloom in time for the holidays. I'm surprised no one in the U.S.A. has tried this. But then it's the sad fact that most Americans, even flower lovers, don't realize the beauty of Clivia plants.

Clivia miniata Belgian hybrid ID'Flor (c) copyright 2009 by Shields Gardens Ltd.  All rights reserved. Clivia miniata Belgian hybrid ID'Flor (c) copyright 2009 by Shields Gardens Ltd.  All rights reserved.
Various other Belgian hybrids from ID'Flor, not necessarily blooming right now.

The newest Belgian hybrids are medium sized, bred to be compact enough for a windowsill or a small table. The leaves are medium width, neither so narrow as the wild types nor so broad as the fancy Japanese and Chinese hybrids. Belgian plants from 15 years ago were larger and the leaves were narrower. The flowers were all the same color, a bright red-orange. The Belgian growers now breed for pastels, yellows, and peaches.

Good gardening, from here in central Indiana


- Winter Weather.


We did not get the snow that much of the Midwest got last week, nor the heavy rains that others got. We did get about ½ inch of snow in the Indianapolis area, and as the first snow of the season, it caused havoc on the streets at the first morning rush hour. We and ours did not participate in the havoc, fortunately.

It has also been a bit cold around here. The lowest temperature I've recorded from my maximum-minimum thermometers so far this season has been +9°F (or about -13°C). It's likely to get colder here than that before the next two months are finished.

Today is mild, about 35°F so far, with the sun shining. I worked in shirtsleeves back in the big greenhouse for a while before lunch, but tonight or tomorrow we may get rain or freezing rain. It's still winter, after all!

First Snow of the Winter (c) copyright 2009 by Shields Gardens Ltd.  All rights reserved.
Light Snow and a Dark December Morning

After the first light snow of the season, things do not have the romantic look of a Midwest winter with heavy snow on the ground and the tree branches. It just looks dingy with a measly half inch of snow on the ground. (My spell checker informed me that it was not spelled "measely." So why have I always pronounced it with three syllables?)

Good gardening, from here in central Indiana


- Red Clivia. 1.

Breeding for Reds

Light has a very strong influence on color development in Clivia flowers, and in other flowers as well. We perhaps need to explain to newcomers and remind our experienced colleagues that anthocyanin color expression is controlled by incident light. If the genes allow anthocyanin pigments, will the light induce their expression?

You can buy a rich red flowered Clivia in Southern California and grow it in Indiana, and see with your own eyes (my own eyes in this case) that here in the cloudy, nearly-sunless Midwestern winters, your red clivia blooms red-orange or even just plain old orange. It's enough to disillusion a strong believer!

There are good biochemical reasons for this, which need not concern the non-biochemists among us. Just remember that in Northern latitudes and in regions with significantly reduced direct sunlight in winter and spring, red colors do not develop fully in most Clivia plants.

A noble breeding goal for someone growing Clivia in the Northeastern USA , eastern Canada, or northern Europe would be to select for deep red color in your Clivias where you are and breed with them. If I were 20 or 30 years younger, I'd work hard on this myself.

I might mention that some of the newer Belgian hybrids bloom more pastel than red-orange here in Indiana. You might still want to incorporate some Belgians into your breeding program, so that you can get to first flowering in under 36 months. I have one [Belgian x Belgian] that went from planting the seed to first flowers in ca. 30 months here in Indiana. If you add in ca. 10 months from pollination to seed harvest, you can go from pollination to first flower in about 40 months, or just over 3 years, even here in northern climates like Indiana's.

If I had a growing greenhouse separate from my blooming greenhouse, I could keep the temperatures warm all winter and supplement the lighting with high intensity metal halide lights to hasten growth even more. Of course, that would be more expensive.

I'll let you know if any of my various past attempts to breed for better reds ever yield any plants that actually have red flowers here in Indiana.

Good gardening, from here in central Indiana


- Red Clivia. 2.

Clones and Cultivars

Clivia Conway's 'Doris' (c) copyright 2009 by Shields Gardens Ltd.  All rights reserved. The classic red clivia was Conway's 'Doris', and many of us bought it. Just as good a red, perhaps a better one, is Conway's 'Abigail'.
Conway's 'Doris'

Clivia Solomone Red nr 2430 (c) copyright 2009 by Shields Gardens Ltd.  All rights reserved.Other reds that we have had include the regular Solomone Red strain, and Solomone's selected "Reddest" strain.
Solomone Red Clivia

We look for reds wherever we can find them. A nice red turned up in a batch of pastels received from Kevin Akins; I call that one "Kevin's Red."

Pen Henry Red Clivia (c) copyright 2009 by Shields Gardens Ltd.  All rights reserved. Years ago, Pen Henry sent me a batch of seeds from her breeding program. A few of those resulted in plants that are now blooming size, labeled "Pen Henry Reds." I am sure Pen's red is a complex interspecific hybrid, since the berries are yellow with only a little pink coloration. I think her reds derive from her 'Tropical Splendor' strain of interspecific hybrids. I'll talk about berry colors some other time.
Pen Henry Red Clivia

Clivia 'Jean Delphine'  (c) copyright 2009 by Shields Gardens Ltd.  All rights reserved. Other Conway plants with notable red coloration in the flowers include 'Sabrina Delphine', 'Fleur de Lis', and 'Jean Delphine'. In my greenhouse, some of these have not done well: 'Abigail', 'Doris', 'Fleur de Lis', 'Jean Delphine', 'Sabrina Delphine', and the Solomone "Reddest." I suspect that the Solomone red lines have a lot of 'Doris' genes in their backgrounds. I have one plant of my cross ['Sabrina Delphine' x 'Doris'] that has suvived to just about bloom size. I am eagerly waiting to see what its flowers look like.
Clivia 'Jean Delphine'

Many red clivia have tulip shaped flowers. This seems to be genetically linked with the genes for intense red color. On the other hand, some of the South African reds and the Belgian reds tend to have more open, flaring flower form. Some of my [Miné X Bing Wiese Green Throat] from South Africa have good flower form, decent red color, a white ground color and throat, and a rich green heart. At least sometimes.

The Best Reds in California

While Conway's 'Doris' and his 'Abigail' bloom quite a nice red color in southern California, there are redder reds on clivias there. Plants from the cross ['Abigail' x 'Doris'] made by Maris Andersons in Santa Barbara have excellent deep red flowers in a nice umbel. Jim Comstock has produced a few of the very reddest reds I have ever seen. I do not know the names of any of the Comstock red clones, and Comstock's breeding materials are not available to anyone so far as I have ever heard.

I repeated the ['Abigail' x 'Doris'] cross myself here in Indiana, and we have about 6 surviving plants from that batch. At least two of them are actually large enough to flower this year, if they happen to feel like it.

Good gardening, from here in central Indiana


- Peach Clivia. 1.

Clones and Cultivars

Keith Hammett and associates demonstrated a few years ago that peach clivia flowers have both yellow carotenoid pigments and much lower levels of the red anthocyanin pigments. The characteristic appearance of a peach flowered clivia is due to the presence of both the yellow pigment and the red pigment. There is no separate and distinct "peach" pigment, at least not in Clivia.

The classic peach clivias were David Conway's 'Tessa' and 'Ellexa'. The precise origins of Dave Conway's cultivars are obscure. He found many as unusual stand-outs in the stock of other nurserymen in Southern California. He raised many from seed, often using his mixed pollen method, where he simply combined pollen from all the plants he wanted to breed with, and then applied that mix to every flower on every plant. We may never know where any particular Conway cultivar came from.

Conway's 'Tessa' (c) copyright 2009 by Shields Gardens Ltd.  All rights reserved. Conway's 'Tessa' is a medium sized to small plant with mostly erect leaves. The color of the flowers seems to be a deeper shade of yellow-peach. 'Ellexa' is a larger plant, with taller scape and longer leaves. The leaves arch over so that the tips may hang below the horizontal. 'Ellexa' has flowers of a somewhat lighter shade than those of 'Tessa'.
Conway's 'Tessa'
Image of 'Tessa' copyright by Shields
Gardens Ltd. All rights reserved.

In Southern California, the most widely distributed strains of peach clivias were the 'Victorian Peach' line developed at the former Sunlet Nursery near San Diego. These plants were probably developed using some of Conway's peaches as well as other available breeding material. A true breeding line or lines eventually resulted. The results varied, with there being a very pale peach strain, as well as a dark peach atrain, and a group of intermediate shade plants. With the closing of Sunlet Nursery, I think quite a bit of the Victorian Peach stock was obtained by Victor Murillo.

Victorian Peach 2194.D (c) copyright 2009 by Shields Gardens Ltd.  All rights reserved.
'Victorian Peach' Dark Strain
Image copyright by Shields Gardens Ltd.
All rights reserved.

A famous South African peach line produced the 'Cameron Peach' strain and the 'Tipperary Peach' strain. These two lines of plants had a common origin at one nursery, and were arbitrarily split into two groups when that nursery was dissolved. They are apparently not widely available outside South Africa.

Cameron Peach (c) copyright 2009 by Shields Gardens Ltd.  All rights reserved.
'Cameron Peach'
Image copyright by Shields Gardens Ltd.
All rights reserved.

It is generally thought in Clivia circles that all the above peach plants originated from isolated sports in the Belgian hybrid strain. Whether they are all genetically the same peach or not remains to be clarified by Clivia breeders around the world. For some additional discussion, see Shields Gardens' Info section on Peach Clivia.

Good gardening, from here in central Indiana


- Peach Clivia. 1 Modified.

Update of Yesterday's Blog

I have added a link to a page on peach clivias in the Shields Gardens' Info section to yesterday's discussion: http://www.shieldsgardens.com/info/PeachClivia.html.

Good gardening, from here in central Indiana


- Peach Clivia. 2.

Pink in Relation to Peach

Following up on my discussion of peach clivias, I'm going to stick my neck out and say that pink clivias are just peaches with the underlying yellow pigmentation suppressed.

Clones and Strains

I cannot claim complete coverage here, because I am sure there are many pink clivias in South Africa that I have never seen, and probably some in Southern California as well. The pinks I am most familiar with are those from Solomone. They have pinks, Watercolor Washed Pinks, and Charm Pinks. All have very light pigmentation in the petals and sepals, but none I have seen are absolutely devoid of all yellow color. They may need to be classified as pale peaches.

Solomone Pink No. 2010 (c) copyright 2009 by Shields Gardens Ltd.  All rights reserved. Solomone Pink No. 2011 (c) copyright 2009 by Shields Gardens Ltd.  All rights reserved.
Solomone Pink No. 2010 (left) and Solomone Pink No. 2011 (right)

Solomone Watrercolor Pink No. 2004 (c) copyright 2009 by Shields Gardens Ltd.  All rights reserved. Solomone Watrercolor Pink No. 2005 (c) copyright 2009 by Shields Gardens Ltd.  All rights reserved.
Solomone Watercolor Pink No. 2004 (left) and Solomone Watercolor Pink No. 2005 (right)

Whether these Solomone "pinks" are pink or are peach seems to depend very much on the lighting in determining whether you or I can see very much yellow underneath the pink. How much patterning shows up in the Watercolor lines seems to depend on the year and therefore on the growing conditions. I see less contrasting pattern on the plants here in Indian than I thought I saw on them in the Solomone greenhouse near Watsonville, California. In any case, they are remarkable flowers and worth some work breeding new generations of their like.

Besides the Solomone pinks, there is the South African 'Wittig Pink'. A true-breeding pink strain has been developed from it by Sean Chubb as 'Pretty Pink'. I've never seen a 'Wittig Pink' but I do have a couple of Sean's 'Pretty Pink' plants. They are still too small to bloom by at least a couple years, so I will have to wait patiently to see where these plants are headed. It seems likely that the 'Wittig Pink' is in the same genetic class as the 'Appleblossom' strain, which latter is characterized by light rose to pink coloration in a pattern so that only edges or tips of the tepals are colored. Some plants of this strain lack the yellow ground color.

With my three plants of Sean's 'Pretty Pink' and a couple seedlings from the 'Appleblossom' group, I will eventually be able to undertake my own breeding experiments in this classification.

Are there any "true" pinks in the clivias? For that matter, what is a "true" pink? I think we need to define a pink flower as one that has no yellow pigments visible under the dilute red anthocyanin pigments in the surface layer of cells. I have not yet seen a real pink clivia so far. When I do see one, I think it will have come from breeding in the 'Appleblossom' strain. Keep watching for the 'Appleblossom' clivias.

Good gardening, from here in central Indiana


- Miscellany

Local Weather Report

So far we have missed the bullet on the big winter storm in the central USA. They had predicted freezing rain for last night and this morning, but it came down just as rain. The freeze edge moved just to the north and east of us, so some other poor unfortunates are getting "our" ice storm. That's OK with me, given the alternative.

Glossary of Plant Biology

I have been somewhat bored the past few days, being reluctant to go out in the rain and snow and cold wind. So to entertain myself, and because I need an easy reference to which to link my comments when I use technical terms, I set to work. So far I have somewhere over 90 terms defined, almost all the definitions coming off the top of my head. So it is meant to help the non-scientist reader get a quick idea of what a technical term means, but not to serve as a textbook for serious students.

You can find it, the Glossary of Plant Biology, at this link:
but I will normally provide a direct link into the Glossary whenever I use a term defined in it. For example, try meiosis. If this does not work in your browser, please let me know.

I will eventually start to borrow proper definitions from other sources, but for now it has been fun just to see how many technical terms I could come up with and generate reasonable definitions for.

If you spot errors, by all means contact me and point them out to me. Use my blog e-mail, <blog@shieldsgardens.com>

The Matter of "Species"

I purposely omitted a definition for "species" from the Glossary. In practical terms, a "species" is whatever a biologist says it is. Another way of saying that a biologist knows a species when he sees one.

The problem arises when someone tries to put into a few words a definition of "species" that holds up for all cases of what most biologists have called "species" in the past. One man's species is someone else's group of several species. Does there have to be gene flow through all populations of a species for there to be just one species?

Good gardening, from here in central Indiana


- Creating a Glossary

The Glossary of Plant Biology

The Glossary of Plant Biology is on my web site at: http://www.shieldsgardens.com/info/Glossary.html if you are curious about what I've been doing for the past few days.

It has been great fun! Since I intend it to be an adjunct to this blog, with easy access via links to definitions of technical terms I may use, I can point out the weaknesses in some of the technical concepts we use. I did finally include a vague definition of "species," against my better judgement. A rigorous definition of species has proven elusive to biologists over the last century or so.

I started life collecting bugs. My notion of "dorsal" is the zoological definition of the word: the surface of the animal away from the ground. I discovered, much to my surprise, that this definition just does not work in botany, so it's a good idea NOT to use the terms "dorsal" and "ventral" in relation to plants. At least not around me, please.

I am also discovering that there are some great on-line sources for definitions. For technical terms, I recommend Wordnetweb at Princeton University. Based at a great university, this is my source of preference among those I have seen so far in developing my Glossary. Highly recommended.

Wikipedia is also very comprehensive and very good -- so far as I can tell. I have read that the Wikipedia group are losing volunteer monitors to tend various sections, and vandals are hacking pages in some cases. I suppose we should use Wikipedia with great care and not for anything where accuracy is critical.

Dave's Garden web site has a couple lists of definitions. There are lots and lots of words defined! Most definitions seem pretty good to me, but I only looked at a few. So far as I know, anyone can post a definition there, and no one vets them critically -- again, so far as I know. Probably somewhat less rigorous than most Wikipedia entries, at a guess.

As a working biologist for about 70 years (if you count the bugs I caught as a little kid on the farm), I found I had a pretty good feel for most of the words I thought of to include in the Glossary. This is logical: I think of words that I have already used or have read in books and articles. So I ought to be able to put together a usable definition if not necessarily one that a specialist in the field would write. I want my definitions to be useful to persons who do not have an advanced degree in biology. Understandable is more important than rigor in my Glossary.

I'm still working away on it. Meantime, if you poke around through it out of curiosity, let me know if you spot any glaring errors. I'm not going to get up-tight about nuances, but I don't want to mis-state the general meanings of terms. Let me know: <jim@shieldsgardens.com>.

Good gardening, from here in central Indiana


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