Wednesday, January 4, 2017

A conversation with daylily hybridizer, William Marchant

  Marchant seedling ((STARMANS QUEST x ROSE F KENNEDY) x 12-14)) x JUSTIFIED

                       Multi-Ring Pileup (Willaim Marchant 2017 introduction)

     I like to feature hybridizers that I would like to get to know better and this segment I chose the daylily hybridizer, William Marchant.  I have never met William, which is part of the reason I wanted to get to know him better, and William has been nice enough to guest some of my daylilies for the past couple years.  I love seeing his pictures of his intros and his seedlings on Facebook, so with nothing further, here is a short conversation with William Marchant:

1.How did you first get interested in daylilies?
I had just begun my first job teaching sixth grade at West Blocton Elementary School in 1994.  My principal, Sarah Lunsford, passed around the Gilbert Wild’s catalog that she had received in the mail.  Back at that time, I was struggling to make ends meet, but I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to order some daylilies.  After all, my father had grown daylilies as long as I could remember.  I put together an order of about $75 (most of these daylilies were $2-3 each.  I really thought that I’d lost my mind.  Who in their right mind would spend $75 on daylilies?  Now, I look back and laugh since I’ve spent upwards of $500 on more than one prized cultivar.
In 1999, I bought the first new hybrid, H. Batman, from Matthew Kaskell.  Needless to say, I was hooked.  A few years later, both Sarah and I joined the West Alabama Daylily Society where Sarah served as president and I served as vice-president for several years.  For about the next five years, I purchased most of the yearly collections from several of the big named hybridizers of the day: Kaskell, Stamile, and Salter.  To support my habit, I would sell daylilies on the lily auction.  Soon, I realized that people might be interested in buying daylily seeds, so I began to list these on the lily auction in the plant section.  It wasn’t long until Mike Longo added a new section to the auction for selling seeds.
2. Which daylily hybiridizers influenced you in the beginning and which ones
do now?
The first hybridizer that I was privileged to meet was David Kirchhoff.  He was the speaker at the Region 14 meeting in Meridian, MS.  I was awestruck to say the least.  That was back when hybridizers showed their programs on the slide projector.  I just sat and watched as slide after slide of gorgeous doubles made their way onto the screen.  I loved doubles, and there is no one in the world who has done more to advance the double form.  While he would never remember me from that meeting way more than 20 years ago, it sure had
I also became very close to James Townsend and Henry Boykin who both lived in the Laurel, MS area.  I made annual trips to see both of these gentlemen, and they were generous with both advice and seedlings.  They definitely took a young 20-something under their wings.  They couldn’t have been more different.  James is a soft-spoken southern gentleman, and Henry was quick witted with a sharp tongue.  I can remember arriving at Henry’s around 8 AM, after a 2 ½ hour drive, and hearing him say, “Well, it took you long enough.  It’s almost lunch now.”  But he was always kind to me, often heating up vegetable soup for us to eat while we talked.
While I am now using mostly my own cultivars and seedlings in my program, there are still hybridizers whose cultivars I will add into my program to ensure that there are new genetics.  George Doorakian’s Rose F. Kennedy is in the background of many of my introductions and seedlings.  Heidi Douglas has a program that is very compatible to mine own, and we have traded plants over the years.  Her H. Prince Poppycock has given me several future introductions, and I have also used her H. Meme’s Lovin the Limelight a great deal.  David Kirchhoff’s double introductions still make their way into my breeding program every year.  Much of my tetraploid double program is built on his cultivars.  I also admire the fancy patterns that Bob Faulkner has developed in his lines and have incorporated several of those into my own breeding lines.  My friend, Bill Waldrop, lives about 45 minutes away.  He grows some amazing plants, many of which I have used in my tetraploid program.  He is also wonderful in accomplishing conversions.  He has converted several daylilies that I am using in breeding.  The latest hybridizer to catch my eye is Ron Reimer.  I really admire the dormancy in his lines, the breeding for rust resistance, and the plant habit of his introductions.
3. What were your initial goals for your hybridizing? What are they today?
When I first began pollen dabbing a little more than 20 years ago, I had no focus.  I was all over the place.  I just crossed everything.  I was young and thought that I really didn’t need a focus.  I was also developing the foundation of my line and several of those early seedlings are in the background of my current program.  Eventually, I realized that I had to finetune my program.
Currently, about 75% of my program is diploids.  I have a rather large program of UFs, green infused, and patterns.  I am also working on a hardy line of spidery doubles.  There is also an applique line developing.
Of the 25% of tetraploids, I am working on patterns, tones of blue, doubles (especially UF forms), and reds.
I also breed mostly for dormant foliage.  Since most of my market is from N. Georgia to Canada, my plants need to be able to withstand the climate in zones 6 and lower and thrive.
4.Talk about some of the challenges you've had with your hybridizing?
One of the first challenges that I faced was moving my entire garden from Tuscaloosa, AL to my current location in Douglasville, GA.  I had to pot up all of my plants and move them to my parent’s home.  They spent more than a year in those pots as I spent my first year in Georgia in an apartment.  After locating and purchasing a home on almost 2 acres, I was able to begin building my garden over again.
Now, my greatest challenge is space.  My garden has grown to take up about 0.75 acres of my property.  I have to select seedling in their first year of bloom so that I have space for the next year’s seed crop.  I probably compost many great plants by doing this, but if I want to begin a seed crop each year, this quick rotation is necessary.
5. What are some of your favorite daylilies from other hybridizers and those
of your own?
Some of my favorite plants from other hybridizer’s that I have used in my program are Rose F. Kennedy (Doorakian), Jeanne Rowles and Royal Carnelian (Kirchhoff), Center of the Universe (DeVito), Prince Poppycock (H. Douglas), Kaleidoscopic Intrigue (Carpenter), Wild Dreams (Grace), and Almira Buffalo Bone Jackson (Faulkner).
Some of my favorites of my own introductions are Viva Glam Girl, Blue Goblin, Leprechaun’s Curls, Live Long and Prosper, and this year’s introductions, Falling Water and Multi-ring Pileup.
Druid City Daylily Garden is located in Douglasville, GA about 25 minutes from downtown Atlanta.  While my garden sits in the middle of the town of Douglasville, we still have lots of wildlife visit the garden.  I have to continually fight off deer and have learned to make my own repellant from rotten eggs and garlic.  Owls, hawks, chipmunks, rabbits, and lots of frogs and lizards make themselves right at home.  About two years ago, I began to add some perennial borders to the property so that I could provide plenty of nectar for hummingbirds and pollen for bees.

Here are some of William Marchant's seedlings:

      Marchant seedling 15-03 (Southern Sunrise X Isabels Spider) X Seedling.

Marchant seedling 14-69 ((Live Long and Prosper X (Super Fancy Face X Kaliedoscopic Intrigue))

               Marchant seedling 15-15 (Live Long and Prosper X Feng Zhu)

 Marchant seedling 14-29((Sdlg. X Passions Promise)X Mark Allan Perry)) X Precious Stones

                   Marchant seedling (Bonibrae Sharky X Viva Glam Girl)

                            Marchant seedling (Lifes a Beach X Feng Zhu)

      Marchant 2018 future (Hotter than the 4th of July X The Mighty Goliath)

I asked William what some of his favorite intros were and here they are:

                                   Leprechuan Curls (William Marchant)

                                       Blue Goblin (William Marchant)

                              Live Long and Prosper (William Marchant)

                                  Red Stinger (William Marchant)

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank William Marchant for taking the time to answer my questions, and especially with all the help he has given me with helping me increase the fan count on some of my daylilies.  I really look forward to the day I can get back down to Georgia and visit William's fantastic garden.  All photographs are the property of William Marchant. You can visit William's website at   I hope to feature a couple more hybridizers in the weeks to come.  Happy New Year to all my daylily friends.



  1. great interview....I am a big fan of Will too !! thanks Paul for writing this