February 15th 2018, Rich Sacher:
All the Aussie plants whose photos are shown here have started in my small tank of water, heated to 90 degrees F (32 C) with an ordinary aquarium heater.
If you are starting with seeds or tubers, the three requirements for success are:
1) Start early in the season...4 months before you want your first blooms.
2) You must start seeds, tubers or small plants in warm water...at least 80 degrees F (26 C)
3) You must maintain high fertility, and do not allow small plants to become pot bound.
February 16th 2018, Rich Sacher:
Storing Tropical Waterlily Tubers
If a small tuber of ANY tropical lily shows signs of rot at the bottom when it is harvested for storage, the tuber can often be saved by cutting off the rotting tissue, and then storing the tuber in barely damp peat moss, at 60-70 degrees F (15-21 C)
Pictured is a rescued tuber of Starlight (not an Aussie) It was in storage in damp peat moss for four months, and then put into 90 degree F (32 C) water for three weeks.
The bottom of the tuber has healed, and there are at least seven plants growing from the top of the tuber.
The rooted plants are planted with the tuber exposed, and in three weeks, the tuber will be removed and returned to the warm water, to produce more plants.
Smaller tubers less than 3 inches long ( 7.5 cm) can often be saved this way.
February 17th 2018, Rich Sacher:
Waterlily New Orleans Lady
Here is the story of the Aussie hybrid, New Orleans Lady, a large pink and white flowered Aussie hybrid.
The pod parent was immutabilis:, and pollen donor was Andre Leu, a deep pink flowered Aussie lily.
All the seedlings from this cross had various shapes of flowers, all with blue and white petals.
The most interesting seedling flower had a pink dot in the center of the stigma, as does Andre Leu, so I self pollinated this plant, hoping to obtain a pink and white flowered Aussie hybrid.
Again, most of the seedling flowers from this self cross were blue and white, but about 25% of these seedlings had pink and white flowers. I selected the seedling whose flower had the best color and form, and propagated it. I named it New Orleans Lady.
February 19th, Rich Sacher:
If you would like a copy of my written experiences with growing the Australian water lilies, email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Ask for Easy Aussie, and I will email you.
I believe that with enough correct information, everyone will be able to grow some of the wonderful Australian lilies, and their hybrids. It has been fun to share my photos and information with water lily lovers around the world, and I look forward to seeing more spectacular Aussie hybrids very soon.
February 20th, Rich Sacher:
I was asked if all Aussie ISG hybrids are sterile, like the hardy X tropical hybrids.
I do know for certain that many Aussie ISG hybrids ARE fertile, and produce viable seeds.
Pictured is a photo of Tuonta, blooming at the museum pond in New Orleans. It always makes spontaneous seed pods, presumably bee pollinated. See pictures of pods collected this past fall. As for the sterility of H x T hybrids...I do not know if ALL of them are sterile...but I suspect that a few of these ISG hybrids may be fertile, too. Can anyone confirm this??
Noi Nopchai Chansilpa: I have many crosses that are fertile,some of them has very healthy seed pods but very few viable seeds.
Rich Sacher: Very interesting information, Noi, thank you. With Tuonta, the seeds from the pods in this picture germinated very easily. I have never hybridized with Tuonta, but the bees do all the work by themselves!
M. Kumar: (Aussie ISG) I got few seeds from Betty Lou. Only one seed sprouted.
Rich Sacher: If you got a few seeds, and one seed sprouted, you should try hybridizing again, over the course of many weeks in the growing season. At some times of the year, some lilies are not very fertile, while at other times, they produce seeds easily. This varies with each variety of water lily, so we cannot give an exact time of year to get the best seed set. Nopchai has reported doing the same cross 100 times before he got some seeds from a particularly difficult lily.
David Gardner: I have citing on HxT fertility, one instance has secondary verification and appears to be a F2 and the other is a self reporting of HxT x H.
Rich Sacher: Thanks for that information, David. I do not hybridize with hardies, so I lack personal experience with the possible fertility of isg hardies. If you have more detailed info, I bet lots of people would appreciate it!
David Gardner: I haven't done any ISG crosses myself, so it is only based on interviews. But it appears certain ISG in one of San Angelo pools has produced Seedlings, they are the result of group pollination and the crosses may have only been possible because of pioneer or mentor pollen. Also possible that it is the result polyploid sport mutation. The other instance was a HxT with perfectly matched chromosome counts, requiring the breeder to try a few variations of the tropical pollen. Additionally it seems that period of fertility is more limited.
Rich Sacher: Very interesting! It may be a while before we can document and verify, a deliberate pollination of a hardy isg which produced viable seeds and offspring. One can daydream of a "Universal mother or father" plant out there somewhere. Thanks again, David!
David Gardner: I honestly don't think we will ever find a universal parent, especially for the auneploids. Though the auneploids do offer a range of possibilities not possible with the base 14 varieties. I am currently looking for a affordable cyto services to be able to identify various N. Alba so I can find documented 48 or 96.
Rich Sacher: David, one can always be optimistic...mutations happen. One of my hibiscus just mutated this week, into a branch with 22 flower buds.
... Several times over the years, a tropical water lily has fasciated for me, producing multiple miniature plants. When the plant sections are repeatedly divided, the divisions outgrow the fasciation, and develop into adult plants which are identical to their variety in every way. Evelyn Randig and Patricia both did this, along with a blue capensis tuber, pictured here. Wish we could isolate and reproduce the causative agent, to inject it into new varieties which otherwise do not propagate quickly!...
July 29th, Rich Sacher:
Both these flowers are hybrids from the same seed pod, immutabilis X Bull's Eye. The flower on the left was rejected because it was small and had few petals. The flower on the right was superior to all other seedlings from this cross, so it was propagated and named The Big Easy.
One of the great challenges of hybridizing is to find enough space to grow out all the seedlings, most of which cannot be judged until they have produced at least 5 or 6 flowers. At that point, one can decide if they are developing into anything of interest. If not, they are discarded.
August 1st, Rich Sacher:
Is our summer heat damaging the pollen on immutabilis? To find out, I cut a first day flower early in the morning, and floated it in a glass vase in my air conditioned office overnight.
See photo. The flower closed at 3 pm, but was open the next morning at 8 am. If you enlarge the photo of the second day flower, you can see the pollen on the stamens.
When examined under the microscope, this pollen had very few deformed grains, and the pollen germinated at a good percentage when incubated in stigmatic fluid at 90 F (32C) for ninety minutes.Tomorrow, I will test the third day stamens for germination, too.
Question, Tom Gleeson: Could the damage have been done to the pollen in the hot, enclosed bud, prior to it opening?
Answer, Rich Sacher: I suppose that pollen can be damaged by high temperature even before the first day flower opens. Same for the ovaries in the flower. However, the flower I tested was harvested after a night of rain, when morning temperatures were lower than usual. When the flower opened in air conditioning for the second day, that pollen was normal, and germinated normally...indicating that protection from high temperatures could be the reason for its viability. Lots more testing needs to be done to confirm this finding.
August 2nd, Rich Sacher:
Extremes in temperature can affect the color of water lily flowers. These pictures were taken of flowers on an immutabilis in my greenhouse. The flower which is purple and pink was taken last month, when the temperature was over 97 degrees every day.
The normal blue and white flower was photographed in December, when temperatures do not exceed 80 degrees. This particular lily has been in bloom for over 18 months now, which is unusual.
August 3rd, Rich Sacher:
The pollen on our outdoor immutabilis flowers would not germinate in vitro during our extreme summer heat. To see if high temperature was responsible, we devised a test. A first day flower of immutabilis was picked early in the morning, and floated in a vase of water, indoors at 75 degrees F.
On the second, third and fourth day, samples were removed from the unfolding stamens for that day, and incubated in stigmatic fluid at 90 F (32 C) for 90 minutes.
Although the pollen from each days' stamens appeared normal under the microscope at 400X, only the pollen from second day stamens germinated normally and at a high percentage. There was no germination of pollen from the third and fourth day flower stamens.
The good germination of second day stamens in vitro does not necessarily indicate the pollen will be effective in setting seed, but it is a very good indication that the second day pollen is viable and fertile, when not exposed to high summer temperatures.
Question, Tomás Escribano: It seems that the pollen dries out and get damaged the 3rd and 4th day then under extreme heat.
Answer, Rich Sacher: By keeping the flower in air conditioning, in a covered vase of water, the stamens were protected from heat and given high humidity. I was not surprised that the second day stamens produced good pollen. I WAS surprised that no germination occurred with the third and fourth day stamens. Of course...I was using a flower which had been cut from the plant. No telling how much that influenced the pollen viability after the second day.
August 22nd, Rich Sacher:
Except for one season with Andre Leu, immutabilis is the only Aussie species I have had to hybridize with for the past ten years. Here are some of the hybrids which came from immutabilis as the pod parent. Not all were worth saving, but the variety of flower colors and shapes is pretty amazing.
September 7th, Rich Sacher:
It is easy to make lots of hybrids with Aussie lilies, but keeping all the name tags in their pots is not so easy when you have a hundred seedlings! I share the blame with bullfrogs and an egret, who knock over some of my pots! Here are some hybrids, parents unknown. I suspect some atrans in the pink one. Flowers with pink dots in the stigma probably are seedlings from a New Orleans Lady cross.
Jordan M. Reece: Aussie’s have always been one of my favorites... that I don’t own because I don’t have a way to keep them over the winter.
Answer, Rich Sacher: Force the plant to tuber starting in September, by withholding fertilizer. When the lily is dormant, harvest the tuber and store it indoors, in a damp, sealed plastic bag, at room temperature. Start the tuber into growth in warm water about Feb 1st. So...you keep the tuber over the winter, not the growing plant.
September 9th, Rich Sacher:
Justin Titus posed a question about forcing an Australian lily to go dormant. These photos show an actively growing New Orleans Lady, in a 4 inch (10 cm) pot. In such a small pot, and without fertilizer, it will stop blooming, stop growing and become dormant, having made a tuber.
Another photo shows a dormant NOL in a 6 inch (15 cm) pot. It has a few leaves, but has stopped making new leaves. This shows that It is entering dormancy.
The next photos show that there are two tubers in that pot, along with the parent tuber, from which any remaining leaves have been removed. All three tubers may now be stored at room temperature, in damp plastic bags, for the winter, until they are put in warm water again for spring growth.
One photo shows a pond of New Orleans Lady, all in small pots, being forced to make tubers; any roots outside the pots are removed, no fertilizer is given, and they will go dormant in another 5-6 weeks. Tubers can vary quite a bit in size, too, as the photo shows.
September 20th, Rich Sacher:
People have been asking for tubers of The Big Easy, and I am making them as fast as I can! BUT, if you have immutabilis, and cross it with pollen from Bull's Eye, you will get hybrids very similar to (or maybe better!) than The Big Easy.
The problem is that immutabilis seems to be in short supply.
The Big Easy was named because it is easy to propagate, starts blooming in a 10 cm pot, and blooms until frost. And...another name for New Orleans is...The Big Easy.
October 4th, Rich Sacher:
Pictured here is my favorite "failure", New Orleans Lady. Its pedigree is immutabilis X Andre Leu, which gave me seedlings with all blue and white flowers. I chose and selfed the best one, and 25% of its offspring had pink and white flowers.
Then, I selected the best pink and white one and named it New Orleans Lady. It took two years to get that first NOL, and three more years to make enough tubers to share. My goal was to create a stable pink and white Aussie which was easy to grow and propagate, but not too big.
Well, NOL is a pure Aussie, not an ISG, and it is easy to grow and propagate, as is immutabilis. BUT: it is a really big plant...so it failed my goal of producing a smaller plant. Regardless, it remains my favorite "failure" and I am quite fond of it!