Hybridizing Etiquette Guidelines

As registrar for the BCRA, I feel it is important as part of a hybridizer’s courtesy to provide a general overview of “hybridizing etiquette” for answering questions and provide guidance for the many new members we have and new brug growers in our group. Please keep in mind these are guidelines – not rules by any means. You should always contact the hybridizer of your seeds if you have any questions in reference to growing out the fruits of their labor!

It is best if growing seeds to keep seeds/seedlings marked with the proper crosses. If your own seeds, the cross should suffice, but if growing seeds from other hybridizers, it’s wisest to mark with the cross and hybridizer name (for better records, you can also include date planted, number of seeds, date germination occurred {each seedling}, etc, but this can get cumbersome if growing many seeds or numerous crosses!). Once seedlings are large enough to be potted up, seedlings should be individually marked for accurate recordkeeping. I simply tag each seedling with the cross and hybridizer name. Until blooming, I don’t personally find it important to distinguish between seedlings from the same cross batch, though some people prefer to individualize seedlings from the time they are individually potted on. This can aid in detailing specific growth/foliage traits of different seedlings. One good method is to mark the seedling with an ID made up of initials and numbers and the cross: Hybridizer’s initials, cross, individual seedling number, seedling parent’s initials.
An example could be: BV-MMxJN-1-CM
This would be:

~hybridizer – Bonnie Vaughn
~cross: ‘Mountain Magic’ x ‘Jessie Noel’
~seedling number – 1 (of this cross)
~seedling grower – Carter Mayer

When marking a seedling by cross, you should always list the pod parent (mother) first and then the pollen parent (father). An example: ‘Mountain Magic’ x ‘Jessie Noel’

~’Mountain Magic’ is the mother or plant that produced the seeds.
~’Jessie Noel’ is the father or plant which provided the pollen to pollinate ‘Mountain Magic’s’ flower.

I do not like (and even discourage) giving working names. This can potentially add much confusion later!! It is best they be know by their seedling label until they have been trialed and determined to be worthy of releasing.

Bottom line is, keep your crosses noted and marked. How you do it is really up to you and what works best for you.

So, you’ve got your seedlings tagged and growing. Until blooming, there are things you should be evaluating in concern with your seedlings, including:

~Plant vigor (growth rate, is it thick and sturdy, or weak and spindly growth)
~Resistance to pests (does this one seem to attract many pests while those others are left alone? Do particular pests seem to like or dislike this one?)
~Resistance to disease (root rot, fusarium, etc.)

Your first one blooms and it is a nice flower. The next job is to begin evaluating the flowering of the brug. It should be watched through several flushes and through several seasons (generally, a year or more from flowering is best). At this point you should also contact the hybridizer so that they can see the flower and discuss the various aspects of the plant with them. If you are growing from seed purchased, you are under no obligation to contact them. However, it would still be a courtesy if you did. Key points to look for:

~Are the flowers unique – different enough from other known brugs – to keep?
~Is the brug easy or finicky in flowering?
~How large (number of flowers) and far apart (time-wise) are the flushes?
~Are the flowers thick and waxy or thin-walled and weak?
~How many days do the individual flowers last before fading?

The trialing part can be difficult. You might have a beautiful flower, but if it looks just like another already named brug, keeping it could cause confusion. Remember, Frosty Pink was probably the neatest and best pink when it was first introduced, but now look how many look-alikes there are and the confusion of keeping them apart! How often had you had to try to identify an unmarked brug and how much 100% positive success did you have? A good question to ask yourself in regards to your seedling: If it accidentally became unmarked, could you or someone else distinguish it easily upon flowering? If the answer is “no”, then the best bet might be to compost it.

Once you have a significantly unique flowered brug, and have watched it through several flushes, it’s time for the next step in the evaluation process – propagating your brug.* You should take cuttings from your plant and make note of:

~How easily does it root from cuttings?
~Do cuttings flower true to the parent plant?

(*Some choose to propagate and send out cuttings for trialing soon after the first flowers. Personally, I don’t see any issue with this as long as the brug does go through a proper trialing phase.)

During this phase, if you have not done so already, you should send cuttings of brugs out to the hybridizer, trusted friends and/or growers for evaluating. The hybridizer should be the first to receive cuttings unless they choose not to. This helps to show how your brug performs in other climates and is recommended as climate can have a big impact on flowering and/or growth as well as the flowers themselves. Things to note:

~How does hot or cool weather effect flower color, size, and shape?
~How does climate effect growth of the plant?
~Does extreme hot weather kill it or inhibit flowering (or make it drop buds)?
~How cold-hardy is it?

Once your beautiful little brugling has made it all the way to this point – and passed all tests (including approval from the hybridizer) – NAME IT!! Confer with the hybridizer (they should be involved if they choose), and give the beauty a name. Some hybridizer might choose to pick a name themselves – which is their right as hybridizer of the plant – while others may choose to allow you to pick the name. At this point it would be helpful to read a very informative article from the ISHS. There are some pointers to naming new cultivars and guidelines that should be followed for coming up with acceptable names. Once you have a suitable name, you can proudly register your brugling with the BCRA.



Should a brug be deemed not worthy of releasing to the general public, that doesn’t mean it can’t be kept. It might be a beautiful flower that happens to look just like three others already released. It is best to NOT release yours, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be useful for hybridizing. If it is a valuable cross, it might still be a good parent and have valuable genes to pass along. If this is the case, you should still only keep it distinguished by cross, not by naming it. Again, this is to help avoid confusion with naming issues.