Sunday, February 24, 2013

An interview with Rich Howard, Connecticut hybridizer.

     This week I continue my focus on Connecticut hybridizer, Rich Howard.  I am posting some really cool introductions and seedlings from Rich.  At the very top is a seedling where every bloom is different.  A very unique pattern combination on the petals.  Before I go on let me post my disclaimer:

(If you would like to contact Rich Howard about his daylilies, you may email him at

Featured above here is a seedling out of Rich's 2011 introduction, Wallingford Woolly Bully. Nice teeth!

Featured above here is a clump shot of Rich's 2011 introduction, Wallingford Woolly Bully, which was named for his Australian Shepherd that passed away in 2007.  I was lucky to purchase a plant of Wallingford Woolly Bully and am very impressed with it's plant habit as well as it's bloom. 

1. How did you get interested in daylilies?

I bought my 2 acre home in Central Connecticut in 1993. It was nicely landscaped but had little color in the yard,so I bought a few plants at a local nursery,not really knowing what I was doing. Among the plants was a pot of Stella D'Oro. I was shocked when ,after spending the winter on the deck,the plant came back and bloomed again. A neighbor who was a Master Gardener told me if I planted it I could expect even better results ,so I did.

I then ran across the name Daylily Discounters in a magazine advertisement and ordered a few plants from them. Wow-they come in different colors! I think I did an Internet search and found out there was a local grower,so I visited them and they talked me into attending a meeting of the local club. Things just took off after that.
2.What were your initial goals for your hybridizing?

Initially I really just wanted to see if I could do it .I remember Daylily Discounters had a short blurb in their catalog on how to hybridize and I followed those directions.I still recall the shock and feeling of pride when I saw the darn thing bloom. I really just did pretty on pretty for a few years to see what would happen. I was having fun and never dreamed I would ever introduce my own plants. I have never been real focused -which may explain why I have taken so long to make significant progress.If you are going to work on both Tets and Dips and all forms progress will be slow. If I could start over I would probably do things a little differently--probably focus on Tet patterns and teeth..
3.What daylily hybridizers influenced you in the beginning and which ones do now?

Early on I don't think any one hybridizer had a major influence on me. Darrell Apps was the first one I met when I visited family in New Jersey and took a  ride down to see his place. We became friendly and I recall how he emphasized dormancy and plant habit whenever we had an opportunity to chat. One day he took me for a walk to look at his seedlings and he was always commenting on the ones with good scapes.           I never forgot that,and was tickled to nominate him for the Bertrand Farr Silver medal in 2006 (I believe I was not the only one to do so), and happy when he won.

Another hybridizer whom I met when I first started out was Matthew Kaskel. I was surprised to learn my sister in Florida had become friendly with his wife, and I am sure I sounded like an idiot on the phone when she told me she had met someone I thought was a rock star in the world of daylilies. I wish Matthew was more involved with things today,but he always marched to his own beat.

Today there are so many whose work I admire. Those who are honest and straightforward in the appraisal of their plants I hold in high esteem,as well as those who freely share information, and those who send bloom size plants.There are many who fit into these categories and I am afraid I would leave out one if I started naming them. I can't really say one hybidizer influences what I do now. I try to take a little that I like from many of them.
4.What are your recollections of the daylily world when you first started hybridizing?

Edges were just starting to appear.Patterns were practically non-existent.In a relatively short time frame look how far things have come! I think daylilies ten years from now will be amazing. All of us baby boomers are looking for things to do and the backyard hybridzers are becoming prevalent,some with quality intros.

The biggest beef I had early on was that so many would send out catalogs, or have web sites, without any images.I recall taking a  beating on the robin when I questioned this. My,how times have changed with today's technological advancements.

5.Talk about some of the challenges you've had with your hybridizing? or working in a greenhouse?

We have pretty good soil,but our property is located in in area where they added a lot of fill material (translation-rocks). We also have a lot of  trees. These are two factors (among others) that influenced my decision to grow a lot in pots. This can be a tricky proposition.I think after 10 years or so I can grow them fairly well,but watering,and making sure they are getting the nutrients they need is important. Having the correct pH is often an overlooked factor ,not only for growing in pots,but for planting in the ground. If your pH is off ,nutrients are not being made available to your plants.Today all beds are seedlings and all named varieties are grown in pots.

I love my greenhouse. As a  hybridizing tool, it helps in many ways. I do not have to bend over to spread pollen and never get rained out.The plants are very happy in the greenhouse with the controlled environment, and most will readily set seed. There are significant expenses-- heating for one, and pest control can be a hassle.I always fear a tree will fall on the greenhouse in the middle of winter.I was also nervous during the recent storm when we got over 3' of snow.
6. Name some of your favorite daylilies from other hybridizers?

This is a tough one. Some I like for their looks and some for their plant habit,and some for both .I really liked Jane Trimmer's Dragonfly Dawn from last year.It bloomed for several months in the greenhouse,had a consistent pattern, and was very fertile both ways.Dan Hansen's Whale Tails and Di DeCaire's Four Beasts in One are also among the most impressive patterns I have grown.Jane has some other plants with great plant habit here--Firebird Suite and Discarded beauty are two good ones.

For teeth, last year's Deadliest catch from Tom Polston and Larry Grace's Dr Stump were impressive.Jamie Gossard's Venus Fly Trap is one of the best out there.The best teeth I have ever seen is Fran Harding's yet-to-be released Forestlake Briar Patch.It showed teeth (in the greenhouse) on days when many other toothy ones did not,when nights were cool in spring.

I get the most keepers from Curt Hanson's intros. Cobraskin Necktie as been a super parent for me. This year's Waggle Dance is one intro I have from it.

I think Fran Harding's Forestlake Ragamuffin could be  the most influential daylily ever hybridized.It is hard to find a toothy cultivar that does not have it in the background.
Posted at the very bottom is a clump photograph of Rich's 2013 introduction, Waggle Dance. Below that I posted a photograph of the wristbands that Rich Howard is selling to help the folks who lost loved ones in the Sandy Hook shooting.  If you go to Rich Howard's website by clicking on, you can purchase them there.  I should also mention that Rich sells both daylilies and daylily seeds from the crosses he does in his greenhouse under the seller name, "Rich," on the Lily Auction. Usually he sells his seeds in the months of November thru January.  Having bought a lot of seeds on the lily auction, I can tell you that no one sells better seeds and his seeds have the highest percent of germination.  I hope you enjoyed our visit with Rich Howard, and I understand he has something he wrote coming out in the next AHS journal.  Looking forward to reading that!  Thanks Rich for allowing me to post all this information on the blog!

Hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did!  By the way, sorry about the font problems with my most recent blog write ups.  It's some sort of problem google will have to fix, or I've got to figure out what the problem is.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Paul.I enjoyed your new post on Rich Howard. It seems you really get the scoop on people. I haven't emailed you recently because of computer problems. Please write me at