Наиболее авторитетное издание Американского Общества Камелий опубликовало статью про то, как я селекционирую камелии. В статье я также рассказал про свое детство в СССР:
"... I became curious about camellias during my childhood in the USSR. When I was a 10-year old, I read a Russian book “Travels with Houseplants” by Nikolai Verzilin (in translation to Ukrainian). I was impressed by his story of tea and camellias and I went to buy a camellia at a plant store in downtown Kiev. There I mistook an azalea for a camellia, since the picture in Verzilin’s book was an engraving without scale.
20 years later, in the year 2000, I finally bought my first camellia. At that time I was renting an apartment in Fremont, California and was concerned that my patio was too shady so that fewer plants can be happy there. I mentioned the problem to a colleague at work, my company’s CFO, and she recommended that I buy a shade-tolerant camellia, which can tolerate shade. I recalled my childhood dream, went to a store, and got a pink japonica named ‘Wilamina’. Then I visited famous Nuccio’s Nurseries in Altadena, California, and met Tom Nuccio. That’s how I got hooked.
Shortly afterwards, I bought a house in Sunnyvale, on a typical 6000 square feet lot, and started the process of converting my backyard into an experimental camellia nursery.
In two years I switched from japonica to sasanqua. The first reason was sasanqua’s sun tolerance. My garden is sunny and hot, and I did not want to build an elaborate shading structure to accommodate japonicas. The second reason was less obvious: I realized that there are more opportunities to find unoccupied niches for new sasanqua cultivars than for the more cultivar-rich japonica. There are tons of formal-shaped, anemone-shaped, true red and striped japonicas, but very few such sasanquas. In addition, sasanquas are better suited as patio plants because they are generally smaller and more dense than japonicas. Finally, sasanquas bloom during the fall and therefore do not suffer from the petal blight disease that marks japonica flowers with brown spots during late winter in California."
Дальше / Full text - http://camellia-sasanqua.com/2017/11/04/backyard-hybridizer/
An article by Yuri Panchul in American Camellia Yearbook 2017
Growing your own seedlings is an intriguing addition to one's camellia hobby. You don't have to be a nurseryman to hybridize, select, register your own cultivars, and then market them to the camellia-growing community. You can do it on the small parcel of land that container growing needs. Of course you have to have patience, motivation, and a sense of beauty. You also need a lot of help from other camellia growers who can assess the value of your seedlings and spread the cultivars around.
The importance of being different
It is important to realize that making a cultivar that's "just a little bit better" isn't enough. Suppose you find a seedling with a flower somewhat more attractive than a flower from a typical mass-market plant, for example Camellia x hiemalis 'Kanjiro'. You show your seedling to other hobbyists, nurserymen or maybe even a giant company like Monrovia Nurseries. Would they switch from 'Kanjiro' to growing your plant? Very unlikely. The value of 'Kanjiro' lies not only in its flowers; it is also a fast-growing reliable plant that tolerates a wide range of abuses from buyers: under-watering, over-watering, over-fertilization, being in a hot spot, or in a shady spot, as well as being subjected to all kinds of pruning. The leaves of 'Kanjiro' are shiny and its growth habit is well-balanced. It is difficult to have all these qualities in a new plant.
If your seedling has dull leaves, a chaotic growth habit, or is finicky about soil conditions, it takes a lot of flower beauty to compensate. Even if you have a well-rounded plant with a nice flower, the odds are not in your favor. There are several thousand registered camellia cultivars, but Monrovia Nursery selected just 62 of them to sell. Smaller camellia nurseries, like Nuccio's, Camellia Forest Nursery or Green's Nursery, offer hundreds of cultivars, but even they are very selective about adding new camellias to their lists.
There are growers in China who plant entire fields with camellia seedlings from which to select plants. What can a backyard hybridizer who has limited resources of space and time do?
First of all, a small grower can specialize and focus on various niches. An example of such a niche is dwarf plants, with their small leaves and internodes. Such plants are popular among people who have small spaces, especially patios and balconies. Second, people pay attention to what is distinctive, rare and unusual: genetic variegation of flowers and leaves, unusually dark leaves, silvery leaves, fishtail leaves, small internodes, columnar plant shape, drooping shape, or any combinations of these features. Finally, there is always room to experiment with rare species, that can add to the traditional japonica-sasanqua-reticulata universe.
How I developed my interest in camellias
I became curious about camellias during my childhood in the USSR. When I was a 10-year old, I read a Russian book "Travels with Houseplants" by Nikolai Verzilin (in translation to Ukrainian). I was impressed by his story of tea and camellias and I went to buy a camellia at a plant store in downtown Kiev. There I mistook an azalea for a camellia, since the picture in Verzilin's book was an engraving without scale.
20 years later, in the year 2000, I finally bought my first camellia. At that time I was renting an apartment in Fremont, California and was concerned that my patio was too shady so that fewer plants can be happy there. I mentioned the problem to a colleague at work, my company's CFO, and she recommended that I buy a shade-tolerant camellia, which can tolerate shade. I recalled my childhood dream, went to a store, and got a pink japonica named 'Wilamina'. Then I visited famous Nuccio's Nurseries in Altadena, California, and met Tom Nuccio. That's how I got hooked.
Shortly afterwards, I bought a house in Sunnyvale, on a typical 6000 square feet lot, and started the process of converting my backyard into an experimental camellia nursery.
In two years I switched from japonica to sasanqua. The first reason was sasanqua's sun tolerance. My garden is sunny and hot, and I did not want to build an elaborate shading structure to accommodate japonicas. The second reason was less obvious: I realized that there are more opportunities to find unoccupied niches for new sasanqua cultivars than for the more cultivar-rich japonica. There are tons of formal-shaped, anemone-shaped, true red and striped japonicas, but very few such sasanquas. In addition, sasanquas are better suited as patio plants because they are generally smaller and more dense than japonicas. Finally, sasanquas bloom during the fall and therefore do not suffer from the petal blight disease that marks japonica flowers with brown spots during late winter in California.
Choosing the right parents
The life of a plant starts at pollination. Initially I tried to pollinate artificially but I found the process to be very labor-intensive. Then I read that a bee typically hops from flower to flower, over a distance of less than ten feet, so (at least in theory) you can control pollination statistically by putting camellias closer or farther away from each other. I also read that camellias are not very likely to self-pollinate. As a result I decided to open-pollinate a relatively small number of carefully selected seed parents. I removed all the plants I did not care to use for hybridizing; my current preferred parent list is:
Top priority - I collect all the seeds I can get from these
|Jewel Box||very low-growing, small leaves
|Dwarf Shishi||low-growing, small leaves, double flowers
|Panache de Gaujacq||striped / genetically variegated
I collect some seeds from these
|Choji Guruma||anemony-shaped flowers
|Ginba||genetically variegated leaves
|Kira-shiro-kantsubaki||slow growing white, nice flower shape
|Sasanqua Compacta||very short internodes, probably genetic mutation that causes plant hormonal imbalance.
Useful sources of pollen
|C. grijsii 'Zhenzhucha'||double cultivar of C. grijsii species that has deeply veined leaves and was listed as a relative to C. sasanqua by taxonomists
|C. puniceiflora||small leaves
|Silver Dollar||bright white color of flowers
|Stars'N'Stripes||striped / genetically variegated
|Tanya||small leaves, low-growing, flexible branches
|Yuletide||close to true red
I did not get any seeds from these so far, but I still hope they contribute pollen
|'Jaune'||a hybrid of mysterious origin with anemony-shaped flowers. It is reported to be a C. oleifera species but it does not look like C. oleifera
|Mieko Tanaka||true red sasanqua-japonica hybrid
|Paradise Little Liane||low-growing, small leaves
|Starry Pillar||small-leaves, columnar shape
|Winter's Rose||slow-growing, double flowers
|White Dwarf Shishi||slow-growing, double flowers
The seedling growing pipeline
I planted my first seed in 2005, and in 2009 I got the first bloom. Since seedlings generally bloom after 4 to 7 years, it is important to establish a pipeline-style operation.
I start collecting seeds in late August and continue in September. In a typical year the fruits of 'Jewel Box' start opening on August 25 and by September 5 half of them are gone. It is important to catch the moment when the seeds of a given cultivar are just opening (except for way too early outliers), and collect them all. Once a fruit is open, the seeds dry out in a day and cannot be used.
Every year I plant between a hundred and two hundred seeds. First I prepare an airy mix that consists of coarse perlite (#3) and peat in the proportion 2:1. Sometimes I use a peat-based container mix like Sunshine #4 instead of pure peat. After collecting each particular seed group I get empty one-gallon nursery containers, fill them with the prepared mix, water the mix thoroughly and wait until the water drains. Before planting the seeds in the containers I soak the seeds for 30 minutes in warm boiled water in a cup. Them I put a dozen seeds in each container and cover the seeds lightly with the mix. After this I cover each container with a one-gallon plastic zip-lock bag and place the containers in a shaded, covered place in the corner of my garden under an orange tree.
The seeds sprout sometime during the winter. I check whether the container mix is moist and add more water occasionally. Frequent watering is not necessary, since the containers are covered and in a shaded, cool location.
After several months I move the seedlings to the next step in the growing pipeline: I prune their taproot. Every camellia seedling develops a strong vertical taproot. If it is not pruned, it circles the container and eventually the plant suffocates.
After the root pruning operation, I plant seedlings back into 1-gallon containers, but this time I put only 3-6 seedlings per container. I cover them with zip-lock bags and put them back into my shaded location under the orange tree. If you put a container covered with a zip-lock bag in the sun, the seedlings get fried in no time, so shade is critical.
After a month or so, I start removing the zip-lock bags from the containers. After this I put the seedlings into a covered mini-greenhouse in a shaded location. This is the most critical time in the life of a seedling. More sensitive plants, like the seedlings of 'Jewel Box' or other naturally weak dwarf plants, are very susceptible to wind burn and overwatering. They have to stay in a tightly covered mini-greenhouse with watering only when needed - until the following spring. Other seedlings can survive the open air after removing the zip-lock bags. Eventually I open the mini-greenhouse door, first just a little bit, then open more, so that the seedlings can get used to open air.
In a year, I move the seedlings out of a shaded location to a more sunny spot. When they are three years old, I plant the seedlings into individual one-gallon containers, still using a very airy mix, but now the ratio of coarse perlite #3 with peat is 50-50. I put some seedlings into individual containers a year earlier, others - a year later. Then I monitor the seedling's root systems and transplant them into ever larger containers.
When the seedlings graduate to 3-gallon containers, I start using less airy container mix that consists of 1/3 coarse perlite #3, 1/3 peat and 1/3 any container mix from the store. I add the container mix from the store because it contains a wetting agent. Without a wetting agent the dried peat/perlite mix can become unwettable, since dry peat naturally repels water.
Finally the seedlings start to bloom. Usually I quickly recognize whether a seedling is worth keeping for additional evaluation. If not, I use the seedling as a rootstock for grafting another, more interesting seedling. Some seedlings get my attention even before blooming, if they have unusual leaves, for example small, triangular shape, or variegated. In this case I propagate a seedling with interesting leaves by grafting it on some rootstock. The grafted seedlings bloom sometimes earlier than non-grafted, so I can evaluate them faster.
Let's see the results
Seedling YP0044, tentative name 'Sunnyvale Carnival'. So far this seedling with loose peony-shaped flower has impressed people the most. It was praised by well-known nurserymen and camellia collectors Tom Nuccio, Daniel Charvet and Brad King.
The seed parent of this plant is C. x hiemalis 'Kanjiro' and the pollen parent is probably C. sasanqua 'Bert Jones', since it grows next to Kanjiro in my garden and the seedling's flower size and globular shape has some features of 'Bert Jones'.
I came to its name after I went with my oldest son Albert Panchul to a Christmas Fair in San Jose, the largest city in Silicon Valley, and my son got excited by the festivities. When he saw the carousel and people, he shouted "Look! It's a Carnival!" When I saw the flower, I remembered the episode and the name stuck.
'Sunnyvale Carnival' is a strong, spreading, fast growing plant with big shiny leaves and large globular flowers, in a combination of white and pink. It can grow in full sun, but grows optimally in partial sun location.
Seedling YP0108, tentative name 'Sunnyvale Stripes'. As the name suggests, this seedling has pink stripes on a white background. This type of variegation is genetic, unlike virus-induced variegation of some camellia cultivars with blotched flowers (white on pink). Since stable genetic variegation in sasanqua is rare, this seedling is an important find.
The seed parent of 'Sunnyvale Stripes' is 'Stars'N'Stripes', a striped sasanqua hybrid, originated in Nuccio's Nurseries. The pollen parent is unknown, but judging by the smaller shape of its relatively narrow leaves we can guess it might be 'Tanya' or 'Slim'N'Trim', a columnar cultivar with narrow leaves.
The seedling solves a big problem with its seed parent: 'Sunnyvale Stripes' can grow in full sun in Sunnyvale, while 'Stars'N'Strips' can't. 'Sunnyvale Stripes' also has smaller leaves and is generally more elegant with a dense growth habit. On average the flowers of ‘Stars’N’Stripes’ are larger and more brightly colored, but this happens only in perfect semi-shade growing conditions, which frequently isn't the case. 'Sunnyvale Stripes' has many nice-looking flowers as well, and they are more irregular, which is valued under the Japanese concept of beauty Wabi-Sabi.
There are a couple of other striped sasanquas available, including ‘Autumn Carnival’ from Camellia Forest Nursery and a new cultivar 'Panache de Gaujacq' from Europe, but they are different, both in color and in stripe width. The stripes in these cultivars are thinner and more regular than in 'Sunnyvale Stripes'.
Seedling YP0138, tentative name 'Sunnyvale Rose'. When new people become camellia hobbyists, they are frequently looking for formal double or rose form double flowers. While there are many japonica formal double cultivars, the selection of formal sasanquas is limited. 'Sunnyvale Rose' is an elegant answer to this need, producing pink flowers that range from formal to rose form double shape. They are quite flat and relatively small (45-50 mm). The plant is also relatively dense with an upright habit. A cultivar to compare is ‘Chansonette’, but ‘Chansonette’ has flexible branches with a spreading, almost weeping habit, larger flowers and leaves. Another similar cultivar is ‘Enishi’ but the ‘Enishi’ branching habit is spreading and generally more chaotic. 'Sunnyvale Rose' is my candidate for a popular mass-market plant.
Another attractive seedling that caught my attention is YP0148, tentative name 'Sunnyvale Rabbit'. It has medium-size irregular double pink flowers that sometimes form “rabbit ear” petals. The plant is fast-growing and has a spreading growth habit. Similar cultivars include ‘Showa-no-sakae’ and ‘Rosette’ but they don’t form “rabbit ear” petals.
YP0011 'Sunnyvale Porcelain' was the first seedling I seriously considered as a candidate for a cultivar. Its seed parent is 'Rosette', a small peony-form pink, very busy flower. Sometimes 'Sunnyvale Porcelain' forms a really striking big white flower, however the flower is not bright white (like 'Silver Dollar') but more like porcelain, hence the name. A nice feature of 'Sunnyvale Porcelain' is its weeping habit. A large plant with many long weeping branches covered by many peony-form, white flowers makes a nice focal point in the garden.
Seedling YP0266 tentative name 'Venera'. This is likely an inter-species hybrid one of whose parents being Camellia edithae 'Hei Mu-dan', a rare plant from China. The seedling has large double rose-form or peony-form flowers. The likely parent C. edithae plant has deeply veined non-sasanqua-looking leaves and japonica-style formal double flowers; it blooms at the same time as sasanquas and way too early for japonicas. The seedling has some signs of leaf venation and a spreading habit with short hard branches. 'Venera' means 'Venus' in Russian.
Camellia hybridization is not only about flowers
YP0266 'Venera' is not the only seedling with unusual leaves in my garden. I have more, and in some cases it is hard to believe the plant is a camellia. Look for example at YP0217 with very small serrated leaves. I grew this plant from a seed I got from the Camellia Forest Nursery that sold it to me under the name 'a seed from C. oleifera'. I thought this plant may be not just a different species of Camellia, but a different genus. However I was able to graft it on Camellia rootstock, so it truly is probably a Camellia:
Another non-camellia-looking plant is YP0032 with the tentative name 'Sunnyvale Dark Knight'. This chance seedling probably came from either Yume or Sasanqua compacta. It has dark narrow leaves with very short internodes, just like the internodes of 'Sasanqua Compacta' from Nuccio's Nurseries. The flower color is dark pink.
Sometimes 'Sunnyvale Dark Knight' forms double "fishtail" leaves - another unusual feature:
If a plant has atypical (for its species), severely short internodes, we can hypothesize that the plant has some plant hormone imbalance. Plant biology courses I took in college suggested that the prime suspects for this condition are auxin, giberellin and cytokinins. Cytokinin is sythesized in root tips. It means that if we graft a plant with severely short internodes due to cytokinin disbalance to a normal plant, the result should be a plant with normal internodes.
When I grafted YP0032 'Sunnyvale Dark Knight', the result still has severely short internodes. This is good news since it means that I can propagate 'Sunnyvale Dark Knight' by graft without loosing its distinctive look. Other seedlings with short internodes did not keep this feature well.
The seedling YP0086 initially attracted me by its combination of short internodes with a slender columnar shape, but suddenly it started making branches with long internodes:
Another plant, YP0013, a seedling of 'Yume' that appeared to have short internodes in combination with ball shape and bright white flowers, eventually also started producing normal internodes:
YP00337 is an example of a seedling with unusual leaf venation, probably a hybrid of C. grijsii 'Zhenzhucha' (it has prominent veins) and C. sasanqua.
YP0197 has silvery leaves, probably inherited from 'Silverado', a Nuccio's cultivar. If YP0197 shows a nice bloom, this silvery tint of its leaves is probably a plus.
In addition to plants with distinctive features, I keep looking for incremental changes in plain single pink seedlings with small leaves. One group to watch is crosses of 'Tanya', with its flexible, weeping and creeping branches, and another group - crosses of 'Slim'N'Trim', with its columnar shape. For example, I have YP0169, a probable cross of pink 'Tanya' and white 'Jewel Box', a sort of "smaller-leaf Tanya". Even if such "incremental" plants are not distinctive enough to have value as cultivars, I can use them for subsequent crosses, thinking about plants for hedges, bonsai and even ground covers. YP0376 in the picture below is an example of such a seedling with dark pink, single flowers, smallish leaves and a generally upright habit with some weeping branches. If a subsequent cross yields double flowers, or variegated leaves, it can become a cultivar.
My seedling growing pipeline continues, but as an individual part-time grower, I can hope for just a few seedlings to become popular cultivars. I am thinking about cooperating with local colleges and universities, that have horticulture courses, to create a sort of public operation, where the students can participate in this activity. They can observe multiple generations of seedlings, train themselves in grafting, analyze root systems during transplanting, experiment with soil mixes, and, most importantly, influence the selection of the most beautiful camellia cultivars of the future.
You can get more information on my websites http://camellia-sasanqua.com and http://sazanka.com.