Due to genetics, some daylily seedlings germinate and come up with all-white foliage. For the first-time grower of daylily seeds, this can be a brief moment of excitement…something other than green foliage has appeared.
Growers know them as “albinos”, and in the plant world, it’s a lack of chlorophyll, vs. a lack of melanin (as in animals), that is to blame. The inheritance of this trait is said to work basically the same as the albinism you likely studied in high school biology, with albinism being a recessive trait. Outwardly, the general wisdom is that albinism happens more frequently in diploid daylilies, but it absolutely can occur in tetraploid breeding too.
These seedlings, while interesting, are doomed to perish in short order. Lacking chlorophyll, they cannot photosynthesize and produce the sugars they need to survive. While it is hypothetically possible that perhaps you could grow these white seedlings by somehow supplying the sugars and other nutrients needed, even if you could accomplish this it would be a novelty at best.
Sadly, a white seedling is simply going to be one that doesn’t typically last past a few weeks. Once the seedling has used up its energy stores from the seed, it is “game over” for that little plant.
It was brought to my attention that one or more growers were interested in tracking this phenomenon. Presumably, folks are trying to figure out which daylily cultivars are heterozygous for albinism (carrying one hidden, recessive albino gene, so the plant appears normal). It stands to reason that if albino seedlings show up in a cross, then both parent should carry a recessive albino gene. Additionally, it stands to reason that a portion of the green, viable siblings in the cross will also carry a hidden albino gene.
Since I keep the data, I figured it’s super easy to share the crosses where albino seedlings show up. Here they are, organized by year, with the most recent seedlings at the top.
2022 Crosses That Produced Albino Seedlings
- Greywoods Dottie Do Little X Yankee Pinstripes (dip)
- Something In My Teeth X MKB5-35 (tet)
- Totem And Taboo X MKB5-05 (tet)
- Totem And Taboo X Unknown (possibly Impact Zone) (tet)
- cf. Tarantula X Adena Mystery Mist (dip)
2021 Crosses That Produced Albino Seedlings
- Bob Faulkner X Darin Boyles (dip)
- Emerald Starburst X Search for Green Pastures (dip)
- Emerald Starburst X Yankee Pinstripes (dip)
- Little Rosy Streaker X Yankee Pinstripes (dip)
- Paprika Elf X Peach Skin (dip)
- Rock Solid X Triple Cherries (tet)
- Smoke Scream X Yankee Pinstripes (dip)
- Wolverine X I-742 (tet)
Genetics of Albino Daylilies at DaylilyGenetics.com