Monday, July 2, 2012

Hello friends!     It's been a while since I've posted to the blog.  I have not been stagnant, however.  Thanks to all of those who have written.  I've gotten lots of emails on Petrocosmea-related topics, and many have asked about various aspects of Petrocosmea culture.  I've decided to use those questions as a guide for future posts, since those of you who have written have often mentioned that you know of others who are having similar questions.  The support for this blog is overwhelming.  I never envisioned it being as popular as it has become.  The level of interest in Pets has grown over the last few years and continues to grow from what you are telling me.  So, I decided to kick of the new posts with this one which is basically just an update on what my Pets and I have been up to.  

First, something fun!   Below is a photo of my newest seedling to flower.  I am very excited that it is flowering now, in summer, a time when most Pets are in active growth here in southwestern Pennsylvania, where for a couple of weeks now we've been having a record-setting heatwave and drought.   Why does that excite me?  Well as a hybridizer, one of my goals is to extend the blooming season for the normally strongly seasonal winter flowering genus.  Most Pets for me flower between October and March.  Having a seedling flower now gives me hope that it might provide a plant that will flower both in summer and winter, thereby extending the season of the Pets for the home grower and for summer shows.  The second exciting thing about my new baby is that the flower is white!  Bright, sparkling, purest white with a sunny yellow center!   The cross is P. forrestii x begoniifolia.  P. begoniifolia often flowers in summer, so I'm sure that is where the bloom time for this seedling comes from.  It also is a white seedling of a cross where one parent is lavendar (P. forresttii), so that means that P. begoniifolia may be dominate for color over P. forrestii.  This is only my second hybrid seedling that has ever had white flowers.... the other P. 'Keystone's Bantam' was a white seedling from among nearly forty siblings all of which were purple or lavendar.  It will be fun to see how this current seedlings' siblings flower. 

The first seedling to flower from P. forrestii x begoniifolia is pure white!!  No sign of the lavendar flowers which it's maternal parent has.  Will the other seedlings in the cross also be white?  Time will tell............

I'm growing out 13 seedlings from this cross....all that were produced.  Few seeds were produced, and only these 13 germinated.  The seedlings germinated last January and are now six months old.  Only one has flowered.  None of the other are showing buds.  Foliage is more like P. forrestii, but with the rounder shape and deep bubbly veining of P. begoniifolia.  I had hoped for some of the burgundy purple undersides to the leaves from P. begoniifolia, but so far, none are showing that characteristic.  I would love to self and sib cross some of these to see what happens to flower color and foliage in the F2, but often Pet hybrids have been reluctant to produce pollen for me.  Of all my crosses, this is the one I would most like to sib cross to get an F2 generation. 

The tray of P. forrestii x begoniifolia seedlings. The dark green foliage makes the white flowers of the first seedling to flower really stand out!   I will soon have to seperate them and give them more room.  They are going to be more like the P. begoniifolia as far as plant size goes, it appears.  Some are producing lots of offsets (which I detest in hybrid seedlings).  I often select against offset production in once they flower, unless the flowers are truly spectacular, those will likely go into the garbage bin. 

So, that's the most exciting thing in the Pet Cave right now.  I look forward to getting back to the blog and "talking Petrocosmeas" with you again.  ~ Tim