33 new rain lilies bred in the Philip­pines

Agriculture - - Contents - BY NOR­BERTO BAUTISTA

FOR LAND­SCAP­ERS look­ing for a new flow­er­ing plant that is low main­te­nance, with a diver­sity of colors to choose from, and can be tol­er­ant to the vary­ing cli­matic con­di­tions in our lo­cal Philip­pine set­ting, this is your an­swer.

Rain lilies, pop­u­larly known as Ze­phyran­thes, are the “Tulips” of the trop­ics. These grass-like bulb plants can grow up to about a foot tall and are orig­i­nally from the south­ern parts of the United States of Amer­ica, ex­tend­ing down up to the coun­tries of Mid­dle and South Amer­i­cas.

Ze­phyran­thes is a genus of temperate and trop­i­cal plants in the Amaryl­lis fam­ily, which in­cludes the onions, chives, amaryl­lis other bulb crops. It is na­tive to the Western Hemi­sphere and widely cul­ti­vated as or­na­men­tals. There are over 70 rec­og­nized species as well as nu­mer­ous hy­brids and cul­ti­vars. They usu­ally come in white, pink, and yel­low flowers. Ze­phyran­thes or Rain Lilies are com­monly called fairy lily, rain­flower, zephyr lily, magic lily, and Ata­m­asco lily.

One man be­hind the breed­ing of this col­or­ful and florif­er­ous plant is Glanz Ang, a li­censed Agri­cul­tur­ist, who grad­u­ated from Xavier Univer­sity/Ate­neo de Ca­gayan un­der the men­tor­ship of Prof. Floro Dala­pag. Ang is cur­rently the big­gest breeder of Ze­phyran­thes in South­east Asia.

Ac­cord­ing to Ang, “Ze­phyran­thes gran­di­flora plays an im­por­tant role in breed­ing of Ze­phyran­thes hy­brids in or­der to pro­duce large pink blooms. Re­cent breed­ing pro­grams done in the Philip­pines have de­vel­oped var­i­ous color forms from pin-wheel to round forms with flower size of up to 4 inches (10cm) across. Fas­ci­ated forms with dou­ble and triple lay­ers have been de­vel­oped as well.” There is cer­tainly a vast ar­ray of flo­ral colors from the 33 Philip­pine Ze­phyran­thes hy­brids de­vel­oped. Ang ex­plains that rain lilies are ideal and won­der­ful land­scape plants, usu­ally used as a ground

cover or as border plants. A large bulb is ca­pa­ble of pro­duc­ing up to 4 scapes at a time, each scape has a sin­gle flower that is held up­right. A close plant­ing of 2-3 inches apart gives a mas­sive dis­play of blooms 4-5 days after the rain. It can also be achieved by wa­ter­ing the bulbs mim­ick­ing the rain to pro­duce flowers on a de­sired day. Each bloom last for 1-2 days. What the rain lily does not have is flower longevity; how­ever, its abil­ity to pro­duce a large num­ber of flowers com­pen­sates this lim­i­ta­tion. Rain lilies are easy to grow and to main­tain. It loves di­rect and full sun. It is also gen­er­ally a low main­te­nance plant and is gen­er­ally pest-free, mak­ing it ideal for land­scap­ing. It also thrives with min­i­mal feed­ing and wa­ter­ing. Monthly ap­pli­ca­tion of com­plete fer­til­izer sup­ple­mented with trace el­e­ments and sec­ondary nu­tri­ents are more than enough to sus­tain heavy flow­er­ing. Wa­ter­ing can be done once a week or twice a month dur­ing dry sea­son or not at all. Bulbs will just go dor­mant when dry, and springs back once they re­ceive wa­ter.

Flow­er­ing in rain lilies is usu­ally trig­gered by dry con­di­tions fol­lowed by few days of rain. This makes it very in­ter­est­ing in the land­scape de­mands where flowers can be forced when they are needed.


Rain lilies are also easy to prop­a­gate. Prop­a­ga­tion may be done in sev­eral ways: (a) through seeds, (b) di­vi­sions, and (c) bulb chip­ping. Seeds may be har­vested when the cap­sule starts to turn yel­low and cracks open. Seeds do not need to dry be­fore sow­ing. A well drain­ing soil mix is pre­ferred. Seeds will start to ger­mi­nate in less than a week. It may take al­most a year be­fore the seedling starts to pro­duce flower.

The eas­i­est way of prop­a­gat­ing rain lilies is through bulb di­vi­sion. This is done be re­mov­ing off­sets pro­duced from the mother bulbs when they are big enough to han­dle and have rooted on their own. Off­sets may take 4-6 months to bloom, depend­ing on the size of off­sets.

For va­ri­eties that do not pro­duce off­sets freely, bulb chip­ping may be prac­ticed. This is done by chip­ping the bulbs across the basal plate into sev­eral sec­tions. A fungi­cide treat­ment is nec­es­sary for this pro­ce­dure. This tech­nique takes about a year

for the bulb to bloom. BREED­ING The tech­ni­cal part, Ang ex­plains, is the breed­ing part. How­ever, any­one who has a back­ground in plant breed­ing could eas­ily fol­low these sim­ple steps.

The flower struc­ture of a rain lily is com­posed of three sepals and 3 petals. Since the sepals and petals of rainlily look al­most iden­ti­cal in shape and func­tion the same to cre­ate a flower. They are known as tepals.

The pis­til is the fe­male flo­ral part of the flower. It is com­posed of a style and stigma. Stigma is usu­ally a flat­tened trilobed sur­face on the tip­most por­tion of the style.

There are usu­ally 6 sta­mens in ev­ery flower. Each sta­men is com­posed of fil­a­ment and topped by an­ther. The an­ther is usu­ally a long cylin­dri­cal shape that splits open after an hour of open­ing of the flower. The an­ther houses the pollen.

In breed­ing rain lilies, one must choose a good mother stock that is not an apomic­tic plant. Apomixis is the re­pro­duc­tion of seeds with­out fer­til­iza­tion and the re­sult­ing off­spring will be iden­ti­cal to the mother plant. Once the de­sired mother plant is in bloom, the an­ther must be re­moved right after the flower open in the morn­ing to avoid self pol­li­na­tion. Cross pol­li­na­tion is done by dust­ing the stigma with the de­sired pollen source. Fer­til­iza­tion is suc­cess­ful when the ovule starts to en­large and de­velop into seed­pod. Seed­pods usu­ally ripen in less than a month. Once the seedling has ger­mi­nated and bloomed sev­eral times, se­lec­tion process for su­pe­rior seedlings starts. Se­lec­tion will be based on the cri­te­ria a breeder has set. Un­de­sir­able seedlings will be culled. The se­lected seedling with good qual­ity will be prop­a­gated but will re­main for fur­ther eval­u­a­tion. Once eval­u­ated, the new cul­ti­var is then mul­ti­plied for re­lease to the gen­eral mar­ket.

Ang also cited the fu­ture breed­ing plans for rain lilies. Since dou­ble- and triple-lay­ered blooms are al­ready avail­able, there are also now large-flow­ered rain lilies that mea­sure up to 4 inches. So, the next thing to do is to make an improve­ment on flower longevity and a scented rain lily flower us­ing Ze­phyran­thes chlorosolen as one of the par­ents. This species emits an in­tense fra­grance. The ex­ist­ing hy­brids to date are only mildly scented.

There are cur­rently 33 Philip­pine rain lily hy­brid va­ri­eties de­vel­oped by Ang, 28 of which were made avail­able dur­ing the Hor­ti­cul­tura Expo in Que­zon City last Fe­bru­ary 2018. Many more va­ri­eties will be added and will be made avail­able to the pub­lic. For those in­ter­ested to ac­quire the Philip­pine rain lily hy­brids, Ang can be con­tacted at his email be­low.

About the Breeder: Glanz Ang is a li­censed Agri­cul­tur­ist who grad­u­ated from Xavier Univer­sity/Ate­neo de Ca­gayan un­der the men­tor­ship of Prof. Floro Dala­pag. Ang is cur­rently the big­gest breeder of Ze­phyran­thes in South­east Asia. He may be con­tacted through: glan­[email protected], and at philip­pin­[email protected] yahoo.com; mo­bile num­ber (+63) 917 706-1838.

A flower bed of Philip­pine-bred rain lilies in the plant nurs­ery of Glanz Ang (in­set).

Sweet An­gel

Ma­ca­jalar Bay Sun­set

Lady Di­ana

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