Clear Pink 'Dora Amateis' Anyone?
Emil V. Bohnel, Peoxl River, New York
Thought of as an impossible cross by many, R. carolinianum x R. ciliatum by Edmund Amateis produced R. 'Dora Amateis', a pure white green blotched dwarf rhododendron, beloved by all.
A plant of R. 'Dora Amateis', purchased from Warren Baldsiefen in 1968, has been a lovely sight in bloom each year since in my garden late in April. Perfectly hardy in my area of Pearl River, Rockland County, New York, it's buds have withstood winter temperatures of -20 C. It never fails to put on a good show. It's a good doer. Each year I have made an effort to hybridize Dora. Selfing, (it seems Dora has no pollen) and pollen of many other lepidotes has been used without success.
Walter Blyskal, former president of The Tappan Zee Chapter, informed me that Sid Burns, New York Chapter, had made the break-through and had been successful in crossing Dora, thought by many to be sterile. Sid has informed me that his success was short lived as all the seedlings he was able to germinate soon succumbed.
In Peter Cox's new book, "Dwarf Rhododendrons" he states on page 245 that, 'Dora Amateis' (R. carolinianum x R. ciliatum) is a fine breakthrough. Sad to say, R. 'Dora Amateis' is sterile so cannot be used for further hybridization."
Spring of 1973 I put the pollen of a beautiful clear pink form of R. mucronulatum on Dora. Shortly there after seed pods began to fill out and in the fall of 1973 ten seed capsules were harvested. Seed was shared with Walter Blyskal, Mrs. Alec Marchbank and Mrs. Pamela Proctor.
The seed germinated sparsely. Of the seed sown, Walter has eleven sturdy seedlings three months old and I have six growing. The seedlings have leaf characteristics of Dora, acutely lanceolate with many fine hairs protruding all along the leaf edges, a characteristic inherited from R. ciliatum.
Contemplate the idea of blooming a clear pink Dora!
I am waiting to hear if the ladies who shared the seed were successful in their effort to grow some of Dora's seedlings.
I feel the method used to pollinate Dora, suggested by Mrs. Pamela Proctor is worthy of description. Sufficient pollen was put on stigmas every other day for three applications. The petals of the unopened flowers were removed carefully with a pair of fine tweezers. The anthers were also removed, leaving the pistil fully exposed. Bagging with plastic bags was not practiced. It seems as though the stigma is normally receptive after the flower has been open for a time and the staggered application of pollen over a period of time achieves successful results.
Continued hybridization of R. 'Dora Amateis' will be attempted during the spring of 1974 with pollen other than R. mucronulatum.