K. Mynett
Breeding of flower bulbs, including the cormous and tuberous ornamental plants is a very long lasting and a very costly process.

Breeding and selection works with gladioli and irises began in our country in the late twenties of this century in a famous Seed and Breeding Company Hozer and Sons in Warszawa and shortly before the World War II, we had our first 10 cultivars of gladioli and 2 cultivars of irises. Of course, we lost all this plant material during war time. So, after the war we had to start from the beginning in an exceptional difficult time, in a very destroyed country, entirely isolated from the West and with no possibilities to introduce new cultivars from the leading horticulture countries. At the same time, there was a great need of flowers in the renewal movement of our nation. It was much easier to bring seeds through the "iron curtain", than tulip bulbs and so we started with breeding of bulbous plants, because this was - to be or not to be - for our floriculture a great necessity during this particular time.

But before we started with the breeding work especially with tulips, a lot of basic investigation were done and we found that some regions of our country have excellent soil and climate conditions for flower bulbs production compareable to those in Holland. We found that the Baltic coast - especially close to Gdansk, in the delta depression on the river Wisla (figure 1) was the best region for tulip production.

The largest plantations of lilies and gladioli are in the middle and western part of Poland. In our experiments we found that the productivity of tulip bulbs expressed as the weight increase in percentage of weight planted varied between 50 – 270, depending on cultivar and soil temperature in the late autumn (November-December).

We have to exclude political reasons in our tulip reproduction and breeding program; the only reason at that time was to satisfy the demands of the inner flower market during the very bad time of our isolation.

About 10 years ago the area of tulips was close to 500 ha and now all bulbous plants occupy circa 600 ha; this area seems real to us for the present time. In the last year we imported from Holland 38 millions of tulip bulbs and at the same time we exported to Holland about 10 millions of Apeldoorn and Oxford tulip bulbs. I think this is the right way to co-operate on the flower bulb market.

So, to end my remarks to justify our breeding works with bulbous plants, we finally started with breeding in a few state controlled breeding stations, agriculture universities, in the Institute of Breeding and Acclimatization and in our Institute of Pomology and Floriculture, as well as in some private horticulture farms in the late fifties.

The largest breeding programme was devoted to tulips, gladioli, daffodils and dahlias. After a few years of studing the biology of flowering of all those plants, we began in our Institute with intercultivar and interspecific crosses as well as with gamma rays and colchicine to obtain mutants. Numerous hybrids, over 5 thousands of seedlings were tested and it took 6 – 8 years for dahlias, 9 – 12 years for gladioli, 13 – 16 years for tulips and more than 20 years for daffodils, before we announced our first breeding results to the state Research Centre of Cultivars for comparision

DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.1992.325.81

Acta Horticulturae