The purpose of hybridizing plants is to combine desirable characteristics from different individuals to produce superior forms, with the definition of "superior" being mostly the breeder's opinion. My goals for adeniums are a sturdy growth-form with a large caudex or trunk, vigor manifested as fast growth and disease resistance, such intense flower colors as blood-red and sharply contrasting red/white picotees, and a long blooming season. Significant progress has been realized in only three generations.
The F1 progeny show a pattern:
Adenium swazicum 'Perpetual Pink' contributes sturdy stems, large flower size, long blooming season, and flower color from pale pink to deep raspberry red. When the deep purple A.swazicum 'Boyce Thompson' is used, the most noticeable difference is darker flower color ranging to blood- red. See Dimmitt and Hanson (1992) and Dimmitt for photographs of these plants.
Adenium 'Endless Sunset': Young plants have weak stems but become arborescent if grown hard and pruned until maturity. Flowers are 7.4 cm (2.9 inches) in diameter, solid deep pink. This clone is everblooming-it never stops flowering if grown under tropical conditions. At 15 years of age the trunk of the original seedling has dramatically thickened to halfway up its 2.1-meter (seven-foot) height. Cuttings grow vigorously and form massive roots quickly; stems thicken nicely in their third year. The parentage is A.obesum 'Red Everbloomer' X A.swazicum 'Perpetual Pink'.
Adenium 'Crimson Star': Stems are very sturdy and erect to ascending. Flowers are large (8.6 cm, 3.4 inches), solid, deep blood-red (Fig.26), and are borne nearly year round (Table 1). The plants often take only a month's rest in early spring, then resume growth and flowering. The parents are A.obesum 'Red Everbloomer' and A.swazicum 'Boyce Thompson'. This is the best adenium clone I have seen to date. In addition to the above qualities, cuttings root readily, grow rapidly, and begin to flower in four-inch pots. Roots and stems of cuttings thicken dramatically in the first year. Well-branched, nearly caudiciform shrubs or treelets four feet tall and wide can be produced in as little as three years (Fig.27). Plants continue flowering well through cool weather and almost never rot. It's only negative is that it is a very reluctant breeder, though it has parented a few offspring.
Adenium 'Red Ribbons': Stems are thin and weak, tending to droop under the weight of the large leaves unless pruned or grown in windy conditions that strengthen branches. Flowers are very large (10.9 cm, 4.3 inches), deep red with only slight fading toward center. The petals hang down like ribbons. The flowers are borne up to eleven months a year. It has the same parentage as 'Crimson Star'.
Adenium 'Volcanic Sunset': Stems are very sturdy and erect, with crowded leaves due to short internodes. Flowers are large (9.4 cm, 3.7 inches), deep red, fading slightly toward the throat. It blooms almost 12 months a year, usually profusely except during hottest weather. It has the same parents as 'Crimson Star'.
Adenium 'Asha': This is an Arizona back-crossed to A.obesum. It was created by Dr. Ashish Hansoti of Bombay, India, and named after his mother. Its outstanding characteristic is its huge, bright pink flowers. At 11.4cm (4.5 inches) across they surpass those of the previous champion, A.arabicum 'Singapore' (=A.obesum coetanum, Fig.28). The flowers are of good form, being very round in outline, and usually face upward or outward. It is nearly everblooming, taking only a few weeks' rest during the hottest part of summer. If temperatures remain below 100F (38C), it can bloom 12 months a year. Its thick, very fast-growing, yet weak, stems soon droop to the ground. Grafting onto a sturdier rootstock greatly improves the form, but frequent hard pruning is still needed to maintain an upright plant. It is an inferior parent: offspring so far have had disappointing flowers.
Fig.26. Flower of Adenium 'Crimson Star' (bottom) with parents A.obesum 'Red Everbloomer' and A.swazicum 'Boyce Thompson' (top)
Fig.27. Four-year-pld cutting of 'Crimson Star' in a 24-inch pot. Even faster growth is possible.
Fig.28. Flowers of Adenium 'Asha'. The topmost flower is one of 'Singapore', the previous size-champion
Fig.29. Flowers on a young plant of Adenium ' Crimson Picotee'. Flower size and sharp coloration decline in larger plants.
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