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Amaryllis and Alstroemeria

Old Crops, New Potential

Alan W. Meerow

Copyright 1999 by the

Hippeastrum, about 50 species native to South America. 200 year breeding history. Dutch cultivars dominate market. Henry Nehrling and Theodore Mead hybrids developed in Florida in early part of the 20th century.
Much of this germplasm was lost, but some has featured in Dutch cultivars.

Main Hippeastrum Species Represented in Modern Commercial Hybrids

H. vittatum Herbert H. leopoldii Dombrain H. pardinum (Hook. f.) Lemaire H. reginae Herbert H. puniceum (Lamarck) Kuntze H. aulicum Herbert

After initial flurry of interspecific hybridization in Europe, most breeding was concentrated among the [mostly tetraploid] hybrids.

1) Desirable characteristics of flower size, scape number, and plant vigor are already stabilized in the hybrid races. 2) Sterile triploid progeny result when diploid species are crossed with tetraploid hybrids. 3) Many of the diploid species are not readily available. 4) Self-incompatibility, which occurs in most diploid species and diploid hybrids, generally breaks down in the tetraploid hybrids.

New Directions in Breeding

The Dutch (market leaders) have realized that the old standards need new blood.
Actively seeking new hybrids from amatuer and professional breeders. Dwarfs (Japan), multifloras (high bud counts), blue shades, spider types.
Also, the newer Dutch cultivars are mostly triploids.

Hippeastrum cybister

University of Florida Breeding Program

Fort Lauderdale: begun in 1987. Primary Objectives:
Novel floral form and color. Higher bud counts. Fragrance. Disease resistance.

Secondary Objectives:
Development of landscape cultivars.
Good foliage quality, high number of offsets.

Bradenton: development of landscape cultivars.

Breeding Strategy
Establish F1 populations of the target species. Selective inter-hybrid crosses. Selective sibling crosses. Introgress selected commercial tetraploid cultivars into diploid hybrid populations.

Target Species
Hippeastrum papilio

H. brasilianum

H. reticulatum var. striatifolium

Initial F1 Hybrids
H-1: papilio x lapacense H-2: lapacense x papilio H-4: vittatum var. tweedianum x papilio H-5: papilio x vittatum var. tweedianum H-7: cardenasianum x papilio

papilio x brasilianum papilio x reticulatum var. striatifolium

First Releases from Fort Lauderdale


Cultivar Maternal Parent Paternal Parent _______________________________________________________________________ Rio H. papilio (Rav.) Van Scheepen H. x hybridum Dutch Belle x H. ambiguum (LHer.) Herb. Tweedianum H. papilio x H. lapacense (Card.) H. x hybridum Apple Sampa Van Scheepen Blossom H. pardinum (Hook. F.) Lem. H. x hybridum Bahia x H. papilio White Christmas

First Releases PPAF* Sampa

6-8 flowers per scape. 3-4 scapes per bulb. Semi-dwarf.
Currently under evaluation by potential licensee.

*Plant Patent Applied For

First Releases PPAF Bahia

4 flowers per scape. 2-3 scapes per bulb. Unusual color zonation, red picotee, crystaline substance to flower.

First Releases Rio

PPAF 4 flowers per scape. 2 scapes per bulb. Intensely fragrant.

Flowering performance of Hippeastrum x hybridum Rio, Sampa, and Bahia under ambient south Florida conditions.
Cultivar Year Mean Number of Mean Flowers Scapes per Bulb Per Scape (SD) (SD) __________________________________________________________ Rio 1994 2 2.0 (0.0) 3.5 (0.7) 1995 3 2.0 (0.0) 3.6 (0.6) 1996 5 2.0 (0.0) 4.0 (0.0) 1997 5 2.0 (0.0) 4.0 (0.0) Sampa 1994 2 3.0 (0.0) 5.2 (0.8) 1995 4 3.5 (0.6) 5.8 (0.8) 1996 6 3.5 (0.5) 6.6 (0.4) 1997 8 3.5 (0.5) 6.8 (0.3) Bahia 1994 2 2.5 (0.7) 3.5 (0.7) 1995 3 2.7 (0.7) 3.7 (0.5) 1996 5 2.8 (0.4) 3.7 (0.5) 1997 5 3.0 (0.0) 3.8 (0.4) n

Table 3. Flowering performance of Hippeastrum Bahia, Rio, and Sampa treated according to the forcing protocols of Okubo (1993). ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ Cultivar Yearz n Mean number of scapes per bulb (SD) Mean number of flowers per scape (SD) Days to 1st scape emergence after treatment Days to 1st scape anthesis after treatment

___________________________________________________________________________________________________ Bahia 1996 2 1997 3 Rio 1996 2 1997 3 Sampa 1996 2 1997 3 2.8 (0.4) 3.0 (0.0) 2.0 (0.0) 2.0 (0.0) 3.0 (0.0) 3.3 (0.6) 3.7 (0.5) 3.7 (0.5) 3.8 (0.5) 3.7 (0.5) 5.2 (0.8) 5.6 (0.8) 21, 22, 26 23, 23, 25 18, 21 20, 20, 24 19, 23 21, 21, 25 38, 40, 44 43, 41, 43 35, 41 38, 39, 45 40, 43 39, 41, 43


Forcing pretreatment began Sept 15 and lasted for eight weeks.

Amaryllis Production in Florida

Is it feasible? The Theodore Mead and Henry Nehrling efforts in the Orlando area in first third of this century would suggest so.
Some of these old, Florida-developed varieties can still be found in old collections and gardens, especially in central Florida. These can be an excellent source of starter material.

Most of the current commercial varieties are not particularly well-adapted to Florida conditions.

Amaryllis Production in Florida

Field Production
50% shade advisable for most germplasm in Florida.
30% was insufficient in South Florida.

Roofed shade house advisable as well. Sandy soils must be amended with organic matter.

Greenhouse Production
Most environmental control, but not necessarily less pest problems.
But different pests more likely.

Amaryllis Production in Florida

Buying bulbs from Holland or the few domestic producers and finishing is another alternative. Forcing:
1000-5000 foot candles. 24-27o C. 3-6 weeks to market stage (scape 30 cm long).

Amaryllis Production in Florida

How we do it in Fort Lauderdale:
Bulbs are taken off irrigation around midOctober. If leaves have not senesced by January 1, we cut them off. Repotting as necessary. In mid-February, first irrigation; scapes usually begin to emerge within 2 weeks after.

Problems: Disease
Red Scorch: Staganospora curtisii. Cerscospora leaf spot. Control: broad spectrum foliar fungicides.
Keep foliage dry; sanitation.

Problems: Disease
Bulb rots:
Fusarium: Truban. Bacterial bulb rot: no treatment, destroy bulbs.

Hippeastrum mosaic virus: no treatment.

Insect vectored. Stock can be cleaned up via tissue culture and heat treatment.

Problems: Pests
Generalized pests (greenhouse and shadehouse production): thrips, mealybugs, scales. Field production (and shadehouse): lubber grasshoppers, caterpillars, sometimes snails and slugs.
Semaspore, a parasitic protozoan in bait worked great on these monsters.

Problems: Pests
A new weevil, as yet unidentifed, possibly new genus (according to Dr. Charlie OBrien of FAMU) which first entered the US in Louisiana and has moved into Florida in recent years.
Successfully controlled with imidacloprid.

Banana moth (Opogona sacchari): possibly secondary after weevil attack?

Seed (3 or more years). Twin scale cuttage (2 years). Tissue culture (2 years).

Twin Scale Cuttage

Bulb is sectioned.

Each wedge is then divided longitudinally into a cutting of 2 concentric bulb scales with a small part of the basal plate left attached. These are then inserted into propagating mix, covering just slightly above the basal plate.

Kept warm, moist and shaded, bulblets should form on the cuttings in 6-8 weeks.

Transplant into small pots when 1-2 leaves are formed.

Selection and breeding for hot climates

with an emphasis on Brazilian germplasm


Most of the commercial cutflower varieties are bred from Chilean species with no heat tolerance. Over half the genus occurs in Brazil in a variety of ecological zones. Brazilian species, not well understood taxonomically, are the only source of heat tolerance in the genus.
A. pulchella has been a successful (some say too successful) perennial in Florida for decades.


Alstroemeria Las Olas

A Semi-dwarf, Tetraploid Hybrid Selection for Hot Climates

Alstroemeria Las Olas


A selection from open-pollinated seed of the grex known informally as Meyers Hybrid strain. The original hybrids between A. pelegrina L. (Chilean origin) and A. pulchella L. f. (Brazilian origin) were made by in the early 1980s via embryo rescue and subsequent tetraploidization (to restore fertility) with colchicine. Las Olas was selected from several hundred plants subsequently grown and field-tested in south Florida.

Alstroemeria Las Olas

Stems are 39 to 57 (reproductive stems to 65) cm tall. Inflorescences with 35 rays, flowers 1 to 4 per ray. Individual stems will bear 3 to 17 flowers.


Table 2. Container performance of Alstroemeria Las Olas, 1993, 1996. ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________


No. plants Total flowering

Average no. of

Average no. of florets per inflorescence (+ SD)

stems harvested flowering stems per plant (+ SD)

_______________________________________________________________________________________ 1995 1996 14 12 147 95 10.5 (5.2) 7.9 (3.5) 6.8 (2.7) 7.2 (1.6)


Table 1. Field performance of Alstroemeria Las Olas, 1995-1996. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ Year No. plants Percent cover of 9 m2 test plot at flowering Total flowering Average no. of Average no. of florets per inflorescence (+ SD)

stems harvested flowering stems per plant (+ SD)

________________________________________________________________________________________________ 1995 1996 14 14 50% 75% 150 288 11.5 (9.6) 20.6 (12.5) 6.3 (2.4) 7.4 (1.4)


Alstroemeria 'Las Olas' Field Performance 1996

Number of flowering stems 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Replication April May June

Floral stem production is directly proportional to plant size.

Breeding and Selection of Alstroemeria inodora hybrids

A very variable Brazilian species with a long history of native cultivation. Initial hybrids made with A. caryophyllaea, and among various forms of A. inodora. Objective: pot plants, cutflower crops for warm climates.

Las Olas Cutflower for local sale. Landscape or patio perennial for 30-50% shade (marketed in 8-10 containers).

Inodora hybrids
Winter/spring potted plants. Landscape (not yet trialed).

Whitefly (wellcontrolled by Encarsia formosa) As yet unidentified tortricid moth that feeds on shoot tips (imidacloprid).

Disease or physiological problems.

No disease problems so far. Manganese deficiency on high pH soils (Las Olas).

Inquiries about licensing should be addressed to: Florida Foundation Seed Producers P. O. Box 309 Greenwood, FL 32443-0309 (850) 594-4721 FAX (850) 594-1068