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AgriLife research hibiscus breeder comes up with the blue

ok four years of work and more than 1,000 crosses among three winter-hardy hibiscus species to achieve this goal of creating an almost-blue flowering hibiscus hybrid," he said. The new hybrid is not perfect yet, Malinowski said.

"The flowers get a fantastic blue hue in shade, but in full sunlight they are still plum-lavender-bluish," he said.

Brown said it is important to note that in the world of ornamentals, "blue" is interpreted to have a wide range of hues. Most ornamental blues have a more purple or lavender cast.

"There are very few true blue flowers in any ornamental cultivar," he said. "Although I would call this flower 'almost blue' as Dariusz has, there is no question that this development is unique in known hardy hibiscus color ranges.

"My expectation is that we will see more vibrant colors in next year's F1s (cultivars) using this line as a parent," Brown said.

Malinowski said he will use this plant as a parent in his breeding project this summer, with the goal to stabilize the blue color in full sunlight and increase flower size from the current 7 inches to the "magic" 12-inch diameter.

Breeding of ornamental plants is not the major research area of Malinowski, but he said he enjoys new challenges and the benefits of combining his private hobby with business.

"I never thought I would be an expert in breeding winter-hardy hibiscus," he said. "The knowledge I have gained during the past few years of intensive work on hardy hibiscus helps me reach most of the breeding objectives in a relatively short time."

What is next? Malinowski and his collaborators have a new challenge - to create an orange flowering hardy hibiscus.

This goal seems to be even more difficult, but not impossible, Malinowski said. It will require hybridization with a distantly related hibiscus species, which has shades of orange flowers. The researchers hope that with

Contact: Dr. Dariusz Malinowski
Texas A&M AgriLife Communications

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