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Breeding Basics

The only color guarantees in the Clivia world are with offsets or meristem clones (And to my knowledge theres only one Meristem Clone, Vico Yellow).

When it comes to seeds and seedlings, There are a lot of factors that go into whether what you see is what you will be getting. every purchase is a gamble. Some are larger gambles than others, and we will get into that below. 


Say here on the website I show you photos of 2 plants, a Pod and a Pollen Parent. 


The pod Parent is the plant that we used the flowers of. The pollen parent we used the pollen. 


Say both of these flowers are yellow. What color do you expect to get? Yellow right? The answer here is maybe. 


Firstly, There are 3 different KNOWN genetic tags for yellow in the clivia world. 

I get into that quite a bit on this page over here: Yellow Clivia Groups If this idea is new to you please go read that page and come back. Its something every clivia grower should know about. It even has pictures! This stupid page doesn't even  have pictures. 


Anyhow, Like I said, There are 3 clivia groups, and that means that unless the breeder knows what the heck they are doing they can very easily cross 2 yellows together and breed a very nice orange flower. 


Some Breeders, Like Rouzel, Cross these groups on purpose, and with some great results. Most dont do this because it means at least 1 extra generation of breeding to get what you were looking for. Rouzel is willing to let nature give her surprises. 


This is true of all Clivia crosses. You want your plants to be compatible. Thats not as important in the cases of the "Colored Base" crosses but on clear base crosses, the yellows and the pinks for instance, it really matters. 


Now, our biggest job with the site is to do our best to make sure that the people we buy from are making intelligent crosses. We believe we have done so. When a cross is a little odd, we try very hard to explain why its odd and why we bothered with it anyway.  For instance when they were trying 777 to Hirao, we went for that even though it was an experimental cross, and we explained that in the description. Why? Because it was 777 and Hirao, and if it was a successful experiment we did great by everyone and if it wasnt it was probably going to be a pretty nice green throat. 


Worst case we figured people could self their own plant, because they would be sitting with a nice orange pile of jackpot genetics. 


However no matter what I or anyone else does, All we can do is try to pick choices that give a higher probability of giving you something not orange. When Barry and I first got into Clivia, we got into a lot of trouble with people over this fact. We refused to say "A G2 yellow x a G2 Yellow will always give you a yellow". Why? Because its not true thats why. There is always the smallest possibility that there will be some recessive group 1 gene in the plant, or that there will be something else that causes a gene transmission error that creates something not yellow. 


The chances are low in that case, but it can happen. Also human error can play a part in this happening. The breeder can think they cleaned all their tools and have a single fleck of non g2 yellow pollen on their fingernail, and of all the millions of pollens trying to do the job of pollinating that plant, perhaps that 1 single speck makes it through. Breeders including myself take a LOT of precautions against this happening. I bake my tools and then I dip them in alcohol. I wash my hands between every pollination. I pollinate in a place with no wind. We put little "Flower Condoms" made of straws on each Stigma. Etc Etc. 


 The reproductive matter that is pollen is not so easy to sterilize. Thats why I go through allll that stuff. We wear gloves but that doesnt mean some pollen doesnt hit my wrist. And I cant bake my hands. Not to interested in radiating them either. Barry and I even switch off sometimes to try to bring in a "Clean human" if we are doing more than one plant in a day. 


I can guarantee you all the breeders on the site do as much as they can to keep those errors down. 


Assuming none of the above happens, Crosses that are Similar to Similar or  Plant to Self have a much better chance of getting you that yellow or peach or whatever you are looking for than those that dont look like that, for those that do not understand genetics. You will notice that often our crosses will look something like this:


(Brendas Rasberry Garrote X The Thing Everyone Wanted) X The Thing Everyone Wanted


These kinds of crosses are called back breeding. Theres a much better chance of getting something similar if The Thing Everyone Wanted is on both sides of the cross. 


Now, Heres another thing to understand. Lets look at the cross:


The Thing Everyone Wanted X Self


Well obviously thats going to make the thing everyone wanted right? 


Again the answer is: Maybe. 


Lets say the Thing everyone wanted is a cross between Yellow thing and thing everyone was trying to figure out how to do something with but that guy figured out first. (Andrew Gibson for Short)


Now Lets look at the parents of Yellow X Andrew Gibson


Yellows Parents are nice and simple. G3 yellow X G3 yellow.


Firsts parents are more difficult. Andrew Gibson Was made by this woman named mother nature, In South Africa and was just found by a Super lucky gentleman named andrew in the forests of Karlhoof.


What are its parents? I have no clue. A banana and a rutabaga for all I know.  


Something like this takes a lot of trial and error to figure out how to breed. Val Thurston and Pikkie and Elise have done some really tremendous work with it recently. They have gotten pretty good at figuring out what is compatible with it. 




They dont know for certain what is recessive in that plants genetics. Recessive means hidden. 


Recessive Genes pop back up when they are presented with their partner on the other side of a cross. 


They are the entire reason I always say "I dont know, I can make a guess" whenever someone asks me "What color is that thing going to be"


Because in every single cross on this site, I MAYBE know 1 or 2 generations back into the cross. If its my own cross, maybe 3 generations. When I ask breeders about their crosses very very few are willing to give me all the details. Why? They don't want me reverse engineering their cross of Awesome Thing. Genetics are their trade. Even if they did, I cant for certain say some random recessive gene wont pop up and just change things.


Nobody can. Nobody can be at all certain of exactly what you, the buyer is getting when you buy a seed. That is why offsets are generally far more expensive than seeds or seedling crosses. Offsets are closer to certain than crosses. Even with offsets your environmental conditions may be different than where the plant grew up and may cause changes. Conditions that can Effect Clivia Bloom Color, Size, and Count! That page explains all that stuff. 


All we can guarantee to you is that whatever knowledge resides in Barry and I's tiny little hamster brains was put to use in choosing each and every cross on this site. We would happily grow and flower any cross here, and expect as decent a chance of success as we could create. 


 Like to Self, Like to like, X on both sides crosses are the best chances at getting something that looks like the thing your trying to get. 


They dont guarantee that happening. Your playing Plant lotto with crosses. 


We try to make it like playing scratch offs instead of playing powerball with the crosses on the site.

Same group Yellows, Greens or peaches crossed: 90% chance. Even there your looking at chances at different color tones etc. Crossing greens to each other tends to create lighter and lighter greens. this is how some surmise we will end up with a white eventually. 

Anything else. lower. Crossing bronzes to each other is pretty high but you can get a yellow. Crossing Reds is pretty high but reds are their own story entirely read that blooms link. Picotees, Ghosts, Etc all very hard to guess at probability. Some breeders have made crosses without outbreeding over so many generations that they make some albino plants, which will die. (All variegates do the same. When I say 33/33/33 it refers  to 33% var 33% not 33% albino) Sometimes we will have a cross of one of these and I try to remember to put that in there. The 4 Mary's Plants are well known to have this problem for instance. We avoid Crosses that put 2 of these together most of the time. 


And all this is just about flower color. You have all sorts of other genes to look at too if you are a breeder, Plant size. Broadness of leaf. Variegation, etc etc. 


So, When building your collection, it becomes a question of whether its better to spend less money on crosses or to save up and buy a single offset. In some cases that single offset can cost more than your phone. Sometimes more than your car. 


Why? Because there are some pretty Clivia crazy people out there! That is why often times its worth taking a chance instead of saving up. And again, some of those chances arent so bad. If you want  a yellow, you can probably get one from seed. If you want a green throated yellow, Same. If you want the exact thing you looked at...Offset...and again read the bloom page. Environment matters. 


Also lets face it its a heck of a lot easier for all of us, myself included to take little pecks at a hobby than to put big chunks in (Unless you delude yourself into buying them "For business" and pretending that some day it will pay you back with seeds...Cough...nobody around here does that...cough.) As long as we understand we are buying a lottery ticket that will at worst be a pretty flower and at best be an amazing flower, I think that is ok. :)