Here's how my daylily hybridizer husband makes new hybrids of daylilies. The seedling above is a cross between the flower "Harold Thomas" (named after Scott's father) and Cimarron Rose, a flower produced by Jeff Saulter. A seedling is a flower that has not yet been introduced. Introducing a daylily names it and registers it the the American Hemerocallis Society (AHS).
Scott gets up with the sun to beat the bees to the plants. He uses a cotton swab to make crosses.
In this case, he takes pollen from Cimarron Rose.
Then he places the pollen on Harold Thomas.
He then labels the tag with the pollen parent, and ties it to the base of the flower with an indication of the cross he made.
After a couple of weeks the plants develop seed pods.
After 8 weeks or so, he harvests the seeds and saves them for planting.
He makes metal labels for the new plants with soda cans. They won't degrade or fade over time.
He makes holes in each label through which he will thread a wire stake for plugging into the ground near each plant or row of plants.
He embosses the number of each plant on the label with a ball point pen.
He plants the seeds in rows with labels and waits 3 to 4 weeks for them to germinate.
He keeps a "stud book" of all his crosses. Only he understands the numbers and what they refer to. He has several stud books filled with pages like this!
He stores pollen in the freezer for future use.
It takes two years to see if a plant has not only a pretty face, is unique, and a consistent flower, but is a vigorous plant with a well-branched scape. Usually it takes 4-6 years to introduce a flower from the time it blooms. Out of the thousands Scott grows in our yard, he only introduces a few each year.