Welcome to this continuing message thread. The previous part of this ongoing series, It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 3, has become rather long and slow to load, so we are continuing it here for a fresh start. If you want, you can access the Part 3 thread through this link http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/969046/ and it, in turn, has a link to the part before it. As always, your participation and comments here are most welcome.
We have already had some frost damage here and our gardening season will end soon in a killing frost, but I have enjoyed puttering around in my zinnia garden this summer. I grew some of my hybrids from seed saved last year. And I made some new crosses this year. All in all, it was a good year. And I am optimistic that next year will be even better. I continue to be interested in the new variations of zinnias that appear.
The attached picture is of one of my hybrids of hybrids of hybrids. It includes a combination of genes from over a dozen ancestors. I refer to it as my "pink shaggy dog", because it has extra long petals that hang down. If those long dangling petals stood out reasonably straight, it would be about 8 inches in diameter, which would be huge for a zinnia, but still I like the informal shaggy look that the dangling petals give. I would like to develop a strain of these "shaggy dogs" in all colors. I will be working toward that goal, and several other zinnia-breeding goals, next year. And I will be attempting some limited zinnia growing indoors under fluorescent lights this Winter. More later.
Hi I have seen some what I call 'regular' zinnias as we drive near our house. They seem to have finished bloom, no froat as yet. I lost a few of my iris seedlings to the heat without ever having seen them. disgusting. irisMA
I'm at the "Amateur Hour" level of breeding Zinnia hybrids. I planted a varied bunch of varieties two years ago, and collected random-pollinated seeds. I re-planted them last year, and pulled out all but the orange and yellow ones halfway through the season. I was pleased that the colors didn't just become totally muddy. The pink-purple range seem to have blurred together, but my favorites, yellow and orange are coming through cleanly.
I am casually selecting for those two colors, and also seeing if I can pick out the reddest of the pink-pruple blooms, and get back to a redder, darker strain. Just curious.
Then will try to get orange and yellow in a more compact wrinkled bloom (like a thimble, or a small African Crackerjack Marigold form). Now they are all tall and very branched. I would like to get them less branching, so i can cut stems for a vase without wasting 2-4 buds for each bloom I cut.
The bloom forms now vary, but mostly pretty dense blooms, like thimbles, not like dust mops, like these:
This year I am collecting fairly-random-pollinated seeds, keeping seed from each seed mother separate. I'll have some clean seed for orange blooms, since two widely-separated beds each had just one Zinnia in it. Next year, mesh nets and expose only one plant at a time to pollinators. Thanks for the idea about mesh nets to keep bees out, not just for collecting seeds about to pop!
I'm mainly posting because I discovered (it was news to me) that I can harvest some seemingly-mature seeds from my cut-flower vases indoors. These pinkish-through-purplish blooms were cut and brought indoors while still fresh. Then they sat in water until they started to darken or droop. Then I dried them "just to see what would happen".
I'm getting 6-12 dark, well-formed seeds per bloom , despite their never fully ripening "on the vine"!
The mature seeds come from the outer rim of the bloom.
There's a lot of "silk" which seem to be very immature proto-seeds in the center of the bloom.
I got one interesting hybrid form that has not yet recurred, I guess it won't breed true (see photo).
"I got one interesting hybrid form that has not yet recurred, I guess it won't breed true..."
Chuckle. I do have my doubts about that "frog-petaled" zinnia breeding true. Kudos for originality, and for being a skillful frog trainer.
Your discovery that you can get viable zinnia seeds from zinnia cut flowers in vases could prove to be very useful. Thanks for passing that information on. I have had a lot of success growing zinnias from "green seeds" that I plucked from flowers still maturing on the zinnia plant. So I guess it makes sense that green seeds from zinnias in a vase could also prove viable.
"Then will try to get orange and yellow in a more compact wrinkled bloom (like a thimble, or a small African Crackerjack Marigold form)."
You might want to grow some of the scabiosa flowered zinnias to get that "crackerjack marigold" look. This is a picture of one of my scabious types that has some resemblance to a marigold, and with some selection and re-selection, it could move in that direction. Maybe some crossing between scabious and other zinnias could recombine into something close to your goal.
"I'm at the "Amateur Hour" level of breeding Zinnia hybrids."
The techniques you describe can be very effective, and efficient. I look forward to hearing more about what you are doing.
Glad to have you back. It's true that zinnias have a wider color range than marigolds, but the colors that Corey listed as his favorites are yellow and orange and those colors are available in both marigolds and zinnias. Zinnias can mimic the flower forms of marigolds in a much wider color range, but not their fine dark green foliage.
Actually, the most difficult goal that Corey has is the plant form with long stems originating from the base, instead of the multi-branched form that zinnias (and marigolds) tend to have. Corey is breeding for cut flowers, so he wants each flower to have its own long stem. That's not going to be easy to achieve, and when he achieves it, he is really going to have something unique in a plant form. I have seen some strange zinnia plant forms, so what Corey is going for isn't necessarily impossible.
"I have seen some what I call 'regular' zinnias as we drive near our house. They seem to have finished bloom, no frost as yet."
Zinnias decline rapidly in the Fall, even before a frost ends the growing season. I used to think that the decline was because they were setting seed. But, in recent years, I have seen zinnia specimens that continued to put out youthful looking blooms even though many older blooms on the plant had matured, set seed, and even turned brown with a dead stem. So the act of seed setting need not spell the end for a zinnia plant, or its flowering season. However, in the cool short-day weather of Fall, zinnias can be literally "eaten up" by powdery mildew (or other foliage diseases), before the actual event of a killing freeze. That may be why the zinnias you saw seemed to have finished blooming.
How about a plum-colored marigold-flowered zinnia?
Thanks. In the event that I get an extra good zinnia, I can take cuttings from it to help save it and multiply it and get more seeds from it. However, the speed at which you can multiply a zinnia by cuttings is somewhat limited, and Tissue Culture offers an alternate and possibly more effective way to propagate zinnias asexually. For that reason, I have decided to learn to culture zinnias by tissue culture, and I have accumulated some of the paraphernalia to do that. Some of the TC things that I have, including some chemicals and books, do not show in the picture.
For my first attempts at zinnia tissue culture, I used the conventional Murashige and Skoog (MS) formula for the medium with added sugar. Benzylaminopurine (BAP) was added as a plant growth hormone to stimulate shoot formation. (The strategy is: first the shoots, and then the roots.) I also included some PPM (a proprietary Plant Preservative Mixture) to help prevent fungal and bacterial contamination.
This is all standard stuff in the commercial "Kitchen Culture Kit" http://www.kitchenculturekit.com/index.htm for amateur hobbyist tissue culture, and is known to work for getting shoots from African Violet leaves. I don't know yet if it works for zinnias, but I have put some small pieces (called "explants") of zinnia tissue on some of the medium to see what happens.
So far, nothing much, as you can see in the picture. I may have killed the zinnia tissue during the "disinfesting" stage, in which I treated it the same as African Violet leaves, and swished it briefly in 70-percent alcohol followed by a 30-minute soak in 10-percent bleach, followed by a rinse in distilled water, and then placement on the agar-gelled culture medium.
I used denatured ethyl alcohol, because I didn't have any non-denatured ethanol, and that may have been harmful. I may have left the tissue too long in the bleach. Lots of variables to experiment with, include different things to use to disinfect the explants, and different ways of taking the explants. I will continue my TC experiments this Winter with explants taken from my cutting plants. In the meantime, I will be taking more cuttings, before my zinnias get killed by a freeze.
(not associated with any product or vendor mentioned)
>> Would the form be more striking in another color since we already have marigolds?
That's true, but I like the "cheerful" look of orange, yellow and gold. "Scarlet" would be cool, or multi-colors, but then I would have to create new traits that were not present in the F1s, which I think would be much harder. But in line with my "lazy policy", I have started selecting the darkest reds and least-blue of the purples.
I originally had some small crinkled purple/pinkish blooms that I thought came from the seed packet labelled "Lilliput" because the blooms were so small. Like thimbles.
But no. "Lilliput" meant "dwarf plants". And all my survivors are tall! Now I have no idea what strain or seed mix gave me the original bloom form I liked. So why not breed back to it? And make it a color I like better?
My "breeding program" up to now has maximized laziness, and thank you for calling that "efficiency"! Can I get you help me update my resume?
Rats. Oh, well. I will keep looking for less branching individuals, but I might have to broaden my strategy. Figure out what culture techniques discourage branching (like the opposite of pinching back). Maybe planting densely? Less watering? I thought I was already crowding my babies more than was ideal. Maybe just cut them freely with longer "zig-zag" stems, and see which individuals resist that best and replensih the wasted buds fastest.
Zen_Man mentioned growth regulators that limited height indoors ...
One thing I really like about Zinnias as cut flowers is how long they last in a vase. And sometimes, if I forget to water, they dry out without darkening the color for a long time. That might be another trait to pursue! "Color-fast dried-flower-Zinnias". Maybe in a few years.
Your plan to do some TC is ambitious! Good luck!
P.S. When I saw those 4 tree frogs like sardines, I thought I must be hallucinating. But no! Or else the camera hallucinated the same thing.
I absolutely will (enter the frog-pollinators in the photo contest).
But how will I convince them I didn't photoshop it? I didn't believe it myself when I saw them - I have never seen a frog-in-a-flower before, and didn't realize there WERE tree frogs where I lived. They must be awfully quite!
I think it's they need to prove you did photoshop it, not the other way around. It looks real to me, and really cute. Plus all the frogs look different. Just enter it, geez, LOL.
We have some of the strangest tree frogs here. their hands look like the sticky ones like you can buy fake ones of. They hang on the side of the house. So, I know they can be in some really odd places.
You probably won't be able to get viable hybrids between the Persian Carpets and the others, but don't let me stop you from trying. If bi-colors and tricolors interest you, try the Whirligigs. Some Whirligig strains have "run out" to mostly single flowers, while other strains still have a good percentage of fully double flowers. Both kinds are worth growing, and full of surprises, including a few mutants.
"That's true, but I like the "cheerful" look of orange, yellow and gold. "Scarlet" would be cool, or multi-colors..."
There are several shades of red in the scabiosa flowered strains, including scarlet. The Whirligigs that I mentioned have many multicolor combinations, and I have crossed them with other zinnias, including scabiosa types.
"...but then I would have to create new traits that were not present in the F1s, which I think would be much harder."
Actually, that can be easier than you might think. For example, the "shaggy dog" flower form that I led off with here wasn't present in any of the parents or grandparents of that specimen. It arose as a unique new recombination of genes from the genes that were provided by the parents and grandparents.
The zinnia chromosomes contain a lot of genes, and the mathematical number of ways that they can be recombined is way beyond astronomical. Many of those recombinations are very similar and produce zinnias that differ only subtly from each other. But some of those recombinations can produce improbable and very unique new zinnia forms.
Growing seeds from hybrids, or crossing hybrids with each other, is something like pulling the lever on a giant slot machine that has very many different wheels instead of just a few. If you are willing to grow a lot of recombinations that result in culls and rejects, you stand a chance of "hitting a few jackpots" and getting a few specimens that are new and good and different from any of their ancestors. Zinnia breeding is a game of chance.
People usually say that you shouldn't save seeds from F1 hybrids, because the results are so unpredictable. They are unpredictable because recombinations can occur in many, many different ways. Save seeds from F1 hybrids because they are unpredictable and full of surprises.
A recent sort-of-scarlet scabiosa flowered zinnia is pictured.
Someone in another forum pointed out the "Oklahoma" series of Zinnias.
They appear to have the bloom form I'm seeking, so I'm shopping around now for trades.
>> crossing hybrids with each other, is something like pulling the lever on a giant slot machine that has very many different wheels instead of just a few.
>> If you are willing to grow a lot of recombinations that result in culls and rejects,
I think that is the major challenge for me - growing enough individuals to find the rare ones. Then I'll have to pull a lot of plants, put nets on the best ones, cut off all existing possibly-polinated blooms and try to find a fast way to favor cross-polinating over selfing.
I guess a plant can self-polinate pretty easily - maybe just by shaking? Or would I have to use a big brush to shmoosh pollen from male to female parts of each bloom?
I like this too:
People usually say that you shouldn't save seeds from F1 hybrids because the results are so unpredictable.
No, you SHOULD save seeds from F1 hybrids BECAUSE they are unpredictable and full of surprises!
"Someone in another forum pointed out the "Oklahoma" series of Zinnias.
They appear to have the bloom form I'm seeking, so I'm shopping around now for trades."
If the trading thing isn't successful, the Hazzard's Wholesale Seed Store sells seeds in "wholesale" quantities, but doesn't have a minimum order, so it can be an economical source for the home gardener who needs quite a few seeds. Hazzard's has a good selection, including separate colors of Oklahoma zinnia. I was just now browsing there, and captured a couple of URLs with Oklahoma listings, but the links look kind of weird and might not remain viable.
Oklahoma impresses me as an improved version of the old "Cut and Come Again" strain of zinnias. They are also intended to be cut flowers, so they may have stems that you like. Harris Seeds lists Oklahoma
And the Harris "professional grower description" says, "Bred specifically for the cut flower zinnia grower, Oklahoma Mix produces numerous 1 1/2 to 2" semi-double to double blooms on bushy plants. This mixture continually produces cuttable stems throughout the season, making consecutive sowings less necessary. Mixture of carmine, ivory, pink, scarlet, white, and yellow. Height: 30", 18-20" spread."
Those "cuttable" stems might be right down your alley. But they still look like Cut-and-Come-Agains to me. Incidentally, you can still find some of the heirloom Cut and Come Again strain. Hazzard's has them, 1000 seeds for $4.35 or 2000 seeds for $7.70. That's cheaper than buying them by the packet.
Talk about cheap zinnia seeds. Several years ago I bought a pound of "Burpeeana" zinnia seeds. I'll probably finish them off next year, since I plan to more than double the size of my zinnia garden.
(not associated with any product or vendor mentioned)
It has the "beehive" flower shape that you mentioned, they are described as "new", and they look pretty tidy. And Hazzard's has them in several separate colors, including my favorite, white. Incidentally, I plan to purchase some Giant Cactus White zinnia seeds from them. I like to cross white zinnias with other colors. But first I need to grow a bunch of whites and find a few really good ones.
"I guess a plant can self-pollinate pretty easily - maybe just by shaking? Or would I have to use a big brush to shmoosh pollen from male to female parts of each bloom?"
If a zinnia puts out a lot of pollen, it will do a fair job of pollinating itself, possibly with the aid of various bees. The pollen-bearing florets themselves can set floret seeds. The floret seeds look different from the petal seeds. But they can grow new plants just as well. The floret seeds are more likely to be selfed. For "scabi" type zinnias, I frequently save the petal seeds and the floret seeds separately for that reason.
Some of my zinnias, like the "dinosaur" zinnia in this picture, can put out a lot of pollen. However, if they don't put out much pollen, I help nature along by manually self pollinating as many stigmas as I can with the limited amount of pollen available. You can make the pollen go farther that way.
Incidentally, while I do frequently use an artist's brush to pollinate with indoors, for outdoor pollination I like to "pick" a floret with a favorite pair of forceps and just "brush" that floret on the stigmas that I wish to pollinate. The floret, itself, becomes the brush. (They do have a brush-like texture.) I am picking a pollen-bearing floret with my forceps in the attached picture. I crossed that dino zinnia with quite a few different "female" zinnias that weren't producing pollen at that time.
The locking forceps can be quite handy for pollinating and cross-pollinating zinnias outdoors. The locking feature keeps you from accidentally dropping the floret. (I used to do that quite a lot when using tweezers or twissors.) Forceps come in many sizes and styles. Hospitals use a lot of forceps, and the models for surgeons can be exotically expensive.
My personal favorite for zinnias is a 5½-inch curved tip model. For me, it is a good compromise between having my hand too close to the stigmas for good visibility, and having my hand too far away for good control. I imagine that the size and configuration of your hand has a lot to do with the best choice of size and style of forceps. For me, everything seems to come down to some process of trial and error. I rarely do anything right the first time.
Amazon has a rich shopping ground for forceps. Their large selection of models and prices can be a bit daunting. I got all of mine from Amazon and their third party merchants, except for one large pair that I keep in my tackle box for removing hooks from fish. I think that pair came from a sporting goods store. Hobby stores usually have a few. I have one larger "specialty" pair of forceps for removing blister bugs from my zinnias. Apparently our Kansas blister bugs have a taste for zinnia pollen florets. I probably should just call the blister bug's bluff and use my fingers. Maybe I will do that next year. More later.
(not associated with any product or vendor mentioned)
>> Oklahoma impresses me as an improved version of the old "Cut and Come Again" strain of zinnias. They are also intended to be cut flowers
Perfect! The second time I squinted at "Cut and Come Again" photos, I thought those were pretty close to what I was seeking. But if the OK series has 1.5 to 2" blooms, that's even better than I hoped.
And "any cuttable stems" cuts several years or decades off my project's timeline!
I may wind up putting my current very-mixed strains into storage while I start over with mostly-OK genetics.
I think I will buy Hazzards' scarlet and carmine OK colors, plus yellow so I can work towrds hopefully-stable oranges and red-oranges.
2K seeds (CaCA mix?) sounds like more than enough of a bargain to support hobby research AND trading, whereas the thoguht of a POUND of flower seed just makes my head explode.
(I bought some cover crops including Fall Rye by the pound, and felt like Croesus running gold dust through his fingers and chortling.)
Before I start taking notes from Hazzards and Harris websites, what was your take? Would the Harris OK Mix be more likely to have more "straight-stem" or "less branching" genes than the Hazzards' separate colors? Or is it just "try both and see"? I suspect that curiousity will drive me towards "try both", and things will get pushed out of existing beds in order to make room for a small ocean of zinnias.
- I would start some lines for color from Hazzards' separates (the orange may take time to get and stabilize).
- Start culling and selecting from Harris' color-mix straighter-stems. I've assumed I have to look for cultural practices to encourage straight stems, then breed to takle advatage of those.)
- cross the best colors with the straightest stems and then select out some of the variation.
- doodle around to see what happens when I cross OK with CaCA - close out-crossing should maintain vigor and encourage surprises.
I assume that any company's strain has different gene ratios than another company's, even if they started with identical populations. Unintentional selection, for example by climate and cultural practice, ought to exert selective pressure, less than that of ruthless intentional selection, but pressure nonetheless.
I'll read your post on "Gem" after lunch ... that soup has been simmering with Anaheim and Guajillo chilli for gangerously long.
THANK YOU again. As with more-scientific research , a few days of productive research in the library can save years of research in the lab.
>> However, if they don't put out much pollen, I help nature along by manually
>> for outdoor pollination I like to "pick" a floret with a favorite pair of forceps and just "brush" that floret on the stigmas that I wish to pollinate. The floret, itself, becomes the brush. (They do have a brush-like texture.)
I still ought to have some small hemostats packed away in one of my hundreds of cardboard boxes. Control over specifc crosses is certainly going to be necessary at some point, if I want faster progress than just drifting around gradually for years.
Hmm, I'm glad I was planning to buy a new set of bifocals anyway. If I have to pollinate individual blooms by hand, blurry close-ups PLUS shaky hands don't augur well.
I'm more used to "one male flower plus a fan" pollinating the whole room. Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration.
I have a lot to learn about controlled cross-polination. I think I'll start with the nets, exposing only one strain at a time, then exposing only two plants or branches that I want to cross at a time, and speaking politely to the bees and yellow jackets, pretty-please.
The maximum technicality I had planned to get into was rushing two branches together, or maybe plucking one bloom with a lot of pollen, and dusting a seed-parent branch with that blossom.
I think that learning-as-we-go is necessary to everything in life, not just gardening. But it isn't cheating for me to learn from your trials and errors and successes!
I'll try out some of your techniques starting next year. I think that I'll be doing more selection and selfing for some years, than controlled crossing. But every time I get lucky with some random cross, I will want to do as much controlled slefing and crossing with one plant as I can.
(I guess that as soon as a bloom opens, it is susceptible to bee and wind mediated pollination? I would have to strip a branch of ALL open flowers, and net it over, to get unpolinated blooms? But unopened buds could be left in place as "virgin" blooms?)
It's very likely the Oklahoma Mix from Harris doesn't have better stems than the Oklahomas from Hazzards. As I recall, Hazzards also has Oklahoma Mix. It's possible that both Harris and Hazzard's get their Oklahoma Mix seeds from the same wholesale seed grower.
"I guess that as soon as a bloom opens, it is susceptible to bee and wind mediated pollination?"
It is susceptible to pollination as soon as the stigmas are exposed.
"I would have to strip a branch of ALL open flowers, and net it over, to get unpollinated blooms? But unopened buds could be left in place as "virgin" blooms?"
I don't think you need to be that careful. The honeybees, bumblebees, carpenter bees, and such (yellow jackets aren't interested in zinnias) are only interested in the pollen and the nectar in the pollen florets, and don't care about the stigmas. A zinnia that is just presenting receptive stigmas isn't interesting to them, and doesn't really need a protective net as long as it isn't producing pollen of its own. Some zinnias produce very few or no pollen bearing florets, and they are good "natural" females, because you don't have to go to the trouble of "emasculating" them for cross pollination. Incidentally, zinnia pollen is too heavy for wind pollination. I believe gravity does carry some pollen spilled from the florets down onto the stigmas below to "self" them.
Nearly all zinnias are heterozygous to a certain extent, even the so-called purified strains. So recombination comes into the play in the creation of both the pollen grains and the egg cells in the seed ovaries. So the act of "selfing" a zinnia is actually fertilizing a recombinant egg cell with a recombinant pollen grain. The so-called selfed seed is actually an F1 hybrid between the two "virtual" zinnias that produced the pollen grain and the egg cell. I use the word "virtual" because we never actually see those two zinnias -- only the result of their F1 hybrid.
If you make crosses between Oklahoma, Benary's, Gem, and Cut-and-Come-Again, and you think of those four strains as the corners of a square, you have six lines connecting four points, which means six possible inter-strain crosses, or if you take into account the direction of the crosses, then there could be twelve different male-to-female and female-to-male inter-strain cross pollinations. And that's not taking into account the complexity of the different colors. You have the opportunity to make a lot of different cross pollinations using that stock of seeds.
I usually skip the formality of netting my female breeder zinnias, and just pollinate them and put a coded label on them, for later guidance when I save the seeds. I takes only a few minutes to pollinate a zinnia. As the flower develops to add more stigmas, I return to pollinate them as well.
The actual pollination isn't much more time consuming than attaching the labels, assigning ID codes, and making journal entries about them in my notebook. There a lot of ways you can attach labels to a future seedhead. I have settled on light green velcro tape written on with an Ultra Fine Black Sharpie marker. It's easy to attach, windproof and weatherproof.
This is a recent "marigold flowered" zinnia specimen.
I have some light, cheap plastic "key tags" that I plan to use, designed for auto repair shops to loop through customer's keys, and write names on.
>> I usually skip the formality of netting my female breeder zinnias, and just pollinate them and put a coded label on them,
I don't think I understand. Without nets, wouldn't any pollen they produce be spread to every other un-veiled plant? Including other female breeders? producing unwanted crosses?
Or when you call them "female breeder zinnias", do you mean that they produce SO little pollen that bees avoid them?
Before buying several strains that already concentrate features I wnat to select for, I expected most of my first few years being self-crosses and selction. Now, I see that I'll be able to do interesting crosses the very first year.
But I'm still hoping to be able to do most things two-whole-plants at a time, or two-branches at a time (one from each plant). True, that will usually produce some crosses and some selfs in each experiment, but I had assumed it would be easier to cull 50% of grown plants, than to keep individual blooms from pollinating themselves and doing everything by hand. I guess I'll soon know if crude or lazy techniques can be made effective enough for my purposes. .
Maybe I can get some mileage out of the fact (if it is true) that some strains produce lots of pollen, and some strains hardly any. Overwhelm a plant that produces little pollen with loads from another strain that puts out lots of pollen.
>> Nearly all zinnias are heterozygous to a certain extent, even the so-called purified strains.
I find that easy to believe. Any sexually progated population has genetic variety, other than strains of lab rats that have been very strictly inbred for genrations. I can't believe that any greenhouse operation could be so restrictive as to produce piopulations 100% homozygous for every trait, or even a few!
I'm glad to hear you say that all 6 (3!) crosses of Gem-Benary-Oklahoma-CaCA are likely to be fertile. Hazzards did not say whether all were Zinnia elegans.
Funny that what would have taken years for me to produce by crossing and selcting strains that lacked the features I wanted could be short-cutted by buyinmg them from breeders who had already done that work! Now I can play variations on a theme by starting with their works.
Even more then physicists, plant breeders are like midgets standing on the shoulders of a giant, the "giant" being the entire community of gardeners and nursery people "playing around" for hundreds of years.
When I think about vegetable and cereal seed companies deliberately letting open-pollinated heriloom strains go extinct, my head explodes. Does short-sighted greed know no limits?
"Or when you call them "female breeder zinnias", do you mean that they produce SO little pollen that bees avoid them?"
Yes, that. Bees leave them alone if they don't have pollen. And I have got to admit, my nets worked way better in Maine, where we had gentle cool breezes in the Summer. Here in Kansas, we have a lot of hot wind, and most of the nets I deployed this year got blown off of the zinnias within a day.
I've got to change my net design to deal with Kansas wind. I still have plenty of the netting. And this Winter I will have some time on my hands. Maybe I need to build a Wind Tunnel for testing. (grin) As far as I know, nobody has put a zinnia in a wind tunnel yet. I hope I don't wind up breeding low growing zinnias, because I don't like to stoop over to pollinate them. That makes my back sore.
"When I think about vegetable and cereal seed companies deliberately letting open-pollinated heirloom strains go extinct, my head explodes. Does short-sighted greed know no limits?"
Some good varieties of zinnias have gone extinct, including some AAS winners from the 30's and 40's. There was a small flowered zinnia called "Black Ruby" that was very dark, and looked almost black under incandescent light. I would love to get that color in a giant zinnia, but, alas, no more Black Rubys.
I have done a lot of crossing with scabiosa flowered zinnias. A few decades ago there was a giant crested zinnia strain called "Howard's Crested" that was like a giant flowered version of today's scabiosa flowered zinnias. It's gone.
There was a giant flowered zinnia strain called "Crown of Gold". Each petal had a zone of golden yellow at the base, while the outer half of the petal could be any zinnia color. It was a completely different coloration from today's Whirligig types. I would love to hybridize with Crown of Golds, but they are no more. Every time I see a new zinnia bloom out, I look for that gold-based effect as a mutant. It happened once, it can happen again.
The W. Atlee Burpee Company let their own Burpeeana zinnias go extinct and only in recent years did Burpee "re-invent" them, and not too well at that. They should have at least had the foresight to save some germplasm. The original Burpeeanas had much better plants, and were available in separate colors.
The Burpee Zeniths were giant F1 hybrid cactus types, arguably better than anything that is available today. The guy who "invented" them left the company for some reason. And Burpee discontinued the Zeniths.
Oh well. There are some good new strains of zinnias available today that weren't available in "the good old days".
Have you searched the members-only "Seed Saver's Exchange" for those lost strains? The yearly "flower" membership fee is much less than the yearly "vegetable" membership fee.
RE: "Nets in a Wind Tunnel"
They use spun fabric row covers for warmth, why not for bee protection? Consider laying big sheets of spun fabric or your netting over multiple plants. You could bury the edges in soil or weigh down the edges with 2x4s or bricks! Tent stakes, cinder blocks ... whatever it takes.
It you made it taut, you need hoops to keep the stress off the zinnias.
Since that black mesh is much more open than spun row covers, wind should affect it less.
I think you are going to enjoy your raised beds. They will raise the zinnias up to a more convenient position to inspect and work with the blooms. I think I will try to mound up some borderless raised beds next year myself. They get some of the advantages of raised beds without the investment in containment. Even six inches of elevation can be an added convenience.
I will look into the members-only branch of Seed Savers Exchange. However, their "open" store is rather limited in its zinnia offerings. They do have Cut and Come Again.
"They use spun fabric row covers for warmth, why not for bee protection?"
That's a possibility. But I think I am going to have to perfect the zinnia net design. My simple design doesn't work here in windy Kansas. Maybe if I sprayed the zinnia flowers with garlic, it would repel the bees. I'm willing to think "outside the box" on this.
Many years ago, I got a paper-printed SSE book thick as a phone book. I don't know how I qualified since I doubt I could have paid their vegetable membership fee way back then. Maybe it was less expensive, maybe I splurged.
They had a LOT of heirloom everything.
Some year when I run out of things to do in the garden (like maybe 20 years after I'm dead), I want to pay their "flower" memerbership fee and see what the members have to trade. Ideally, at that time, I would ALSO have something special to offer that I can propagate and stabilize.
Going by the NOAA climate publications, the station nearest has its "50% frost date" in two days (10/27). But I am several miles closer to the water, and 300 feet lower. Who knows?
Nice gradual variation in color and petal shape! Very gracefull.
I like that kind of "demure and serene" form, but I like flashier colors. Thanks again for the tip about Hazzard's! I'm going to see if I can get some flame-colored and striped reds and oranges ... in a modest bee-hive or dome or ball shaped bloom.
The thick SSE book I once had was mainly or entirely vegetables - I was not interested in flowers then. SSE seems mostly into veggies.
I have a note here that says the annual "flower and herb" membership (FHE as opposed to SSE) used to be $10. I see that you must list what you are offering in Spetemeber, and that Yearbook is maile din late January.
"I wonder how they handle the problem where
A wants what B has
B wants what C has
C wants what D has and if you are very lucky,
D has what A wants."
Good question. My guess is that they don't handle that problem, even though its solution is so "obvious". However I seem to remember that there have been "round robin" exchanges here in Dave's Garden. I'm going to look into the Flower and Herb branch of SSE. I seem to remember years ago asking someone who had the Flower and Herb catalog to look for "Crown of Gold Zinnia" and they didn't find a listing for it. But hope springs eternal. If I grow enough zinnias, I might find a gold-based zinnia in my own zinnia patch.
Here is a pink "marigold flowered" zinnia that bloomed recently. Too bad there aren't pink marigolds.
I also wonder how the FHE or SSE manage to deal with the fact that there are so many synonyms for every plant ever cultivated. What most call "Crown of Gold Zinnia" someone else might call "Uncle Ed's Yellow Daisy"
I actually have little idea what to cal many colors.
Pinky-puplish? Mauve? Fuschia?
Gold? Orange? Dark yellow? Light orange?
Cerise? Scarlet? Carmine?
That's a good idea about watching out for someone referring to Crown of Gold zinnias by some other name. I guess I would need to read their descriptions, looking for something that resembled the characteristics of Crown of Gold (like gold color at base of the petals).
I try to be reasonably accurate in describing a color, without trying too hard. Zinnias come in very many colors and color gradations. I've seen well over a hundred different zinnia colors. In particular, the Burpeeana Giants Mix and the Burpee Hybrids Mix come in an incredible array of un-nameable colors. It reminds me of those walls of paint chips in the paint stores.
Crossing different colors of zinnias isn't exactly like paint mixing, but it's not completely different, either. I particularly like some of the pastel colors and colors that you get when you cross a color with white. I like to cross zinnias with white zinnias, and that is one reason I am going to grow a lot of whites next year, looking for nice giant white flowers to use as breeders. And just getting an improved white strain will be nice, too.
This scabiosa flowered specimen seems to be a yellow with a lot of white in it. Maybe it is a "cream with pale cream", or perhaps some other name would be more accurate. Your warm colors project is going to present you with a whole spectrum of yellows, yellow oranges, oranges, and so on.
There is a lot to be learned about zinnia colors, and how they behave. I am not sure what you would get if you crossed an orange zinnia with a white zinnia. The best way to find out is to do it.
There probably is some defined list of color names for specific colors. From the standpoint of computer graphics, 8-bit RGB produces 512 different colors (8x8x8). I would be a little surprised if someone hasn't tried to name all of those 512. The HTML standard has defined names for 140 of them.
I strongly suspect that zinnias can have at least 140 different colors, although obviously not some that are in that table. I think we will have to rely on genetic engineering to get a good range of blues in zinnias. Once there are blues, I think that by superposition of several colors, including a dark blue, that a zinnia color very close to black would be possible. That "Black Ruby" zinnia that I mentioned before seemed to be a superposition of dark purple and yellow. And that dark purple may have been a superposition of purple and cerise. On zinnia petals, colors "mix" by subtraction, pretty much.
Here is another attempt to associate names with RGB color values:
I doubt that there is any practical scheme for "naming" colors so that the name conjures up an accurate mental representation of the color. For example, I would have to see a table of colors before I would know with any precision what color is specified by the name "PapayaWhip". The same applies to most of those paint chip names. Incidentally, I have seen a Burpee Hybrid zinnia specimen with essentially that "papaya whip" color.
But for me, color is just one aspect of a zinnia flower. I am also interested in the coloration of the flower, how the color or colors are distributed, and the shape of the flower, including the shape of the individual petals or florets. I like the flower in this attached picture for several reasons, including the longish rather thin and narrow petals and their "toothy" tips. I like the blended color transition from the ivory at the tips of the petals to the pink of their base, and even the pink at the very edges of the tips.
I appreciate anything that distinguishes a flower from the ordinary. One thing that I want is a near-black spider flowered zinnia with sparkling white tips on the petals. In dim light, you would see just those white tips. It will probably take me another year or two to get that one. But I've got some spider-flowered seeds and some seeds of zinnias with white petal tips. However, I don't have any near-black zinnias yet. That may take a bit of doing.
I really like the classy blended color transitions within each petal. I also like its form more than some of the more open "scraggly" forms.
Thanks for the links, they give me some options besides calling 1/2 my flowers "pinky-purplish".
I wonder if it's my computer monitor, or my eyes, but I disagree with the first link's "Violet". It's almost the smae as their "Hot Pink" and "Orchid", whereas I think of violet as closer to their Midnight Blue or Indigo (on my monitor).
And I only see a little difference between their "Magenta" and "Fuschia"
Another of their colors that's "just worng" is their "Chocolate". I'm going to have to check that link again on my home PC.
I was in agreement with a lot of the second site's names, until I got to violet. Maybe it's my eyes! However, I trust sunlight going through a prism and "Roy G. Biv". THAT is what I call "violet"!
I think the closest to "my violet" that I see in those links is "JIM JONES MEMORIAL GRAPE KOOL-AID", 6000BD. Or maybe "navy 000080"
I read someone's speculation that different people see far-violet in diofferent ways. Homer kept calling it the "wine-dark sea", yet those seem very different colors to me.
Maybe Homer's wine did not come in a box!
Several of the colors in that first chart look definitely "off" on my monitor, also. I think the violet may be named with respect to the flower, rather than the prism spectrum. I agree with you about the chocolate being off. It is too light and orangey. For chocolate, I think of a Hershey's chocolate bar, and in the HTML table the colors they call Sienna or Saddle Brown come closer to a "true" Chocolate. I, too, see only a slight difference between their "Magenta" and "Fuschia". Maybe we should be looking at Pantone color charts. They are what magazines and book publishers refer to.
One of the first "successful" zinnia crosses I made was back in 2006 in Maine when I crossed a scabiosa flowered zinnia with a large Whirligig. The result had a flower form I hadn't seen before in a zinnia, and I referred to it then as "sunflower flowered", because of the huge fat center it had, composed of "scabi" type florets, "piled high". I don't have an established strain of sunflower flowered zinnias yet, but I am seeing specimens of them fairly frequently in my scabi-derived recombinants. A recent one is pictured here, in which the full, almost hemispherical center is evident.
Of course, this year, for my purposes, it is almost enough to say
"Oh Wow, COOL !! C O L O R S "
If I get smart, I will start saving more digital photos of colors I want to hark back to.
This year, I only have a few categories:
that one yellow plant with single petals
the orange ones
pinky-light-purply Lilliput EHH I don't care for the color but like the form and how they last in a vase
That one darker purple plant with single petals
This photo has a few marigolds, but does not show the darker-purple single-petaled plant.
The very first thing that disapeared in the F2 was exotic form and size from Giant Catus and fantasy varieties.
BTW - I found that "Liliput" actually is the form I've been looking for, if I go by seed packet photos. I think that is another strain I should add to my raw material.
I'm personally not a fan of that flower type, but that is purely a matter of personal preferences and a lot of people do like it. It is one of the classic zinnia flower forms.
Incidentally, we had a killing freeze the morning of October 29th, so I will be showing pictures taken in the last week or two for a while, and "same day" pictures of zinnia blooms won't be available for a while. I took the humidity dome cover off of a tray of zinnia cuttings this morning, since I could see through the "clear" sides of the pots that roots had formed. So my first crop of indoor zinnias for this Winter is beginning to "hatch". This recent (pre-freeze) bloom is intermediate between what I call "echinacea flowered" and "sunflower flowered".
Exactly! The two upper corners of the first link are what I liked best in my first year of planting, and want to get back to. Now that I know I can pull them oput of a packet, I need new goals, like size, straight stems, mixed colors, flame-pattern colors, whatever.
One nice thing about them is they last for ages in a vase, but many of my Zinnias do that! WSometimes I even see them dry in the vase with colors partly intact!
I see that we have almost opposite tastes in flower forms: I like compact "balls", and many of your blooms sprawl out over an extended area. I think yours give more lattitude for variation!
I do have small packets of "California Giant" and "Persian Carpet" for genetic variety. And maybe growing Columbines will get me interested in elaborate bloom forms.
"Now that I know I can pull them out of a packet, I need new goals, like size, straight stems, mixed colors, flame-pattern colors, whatever."
I enjoy new goals myself, and I look forward to my zinnia gardening next year with anticipation of some of the new things I might get. But there can be satisfaction in minor quality improvements, too. The cumulative effect of merely saving seeds from your favorites can build up to significant progress in a very few generations. And along the way, you become more perceptive of the different traits that zinnias can show you. Zinnias never cease to surprise me.
I now notice the angle of attachment of side branches to the main stem. An acute angle seems to give a stronger joint than a right-angled attachment. And I am developing a preference for longer leaves with sharper points. And there is some variation in the hairs on the stems in the branches.
"I see that we have almost opposite tastes in flower forms: I like compact "balls", and many of your blooms sprawl out over an extended area. I think yours give more latitude for variation!"
Our overall preferences in zinnia flower form are rather opposite. I respect that. In general, I do like for the flowers to spread out with lots of "air" between the petals. I like to be able to "see through" the flower because it is so open in structure.
However, just today I saved seeds from a specimen that was very much like a Cut-and-Come-Again, with a multiplicity of ball-like blooms. Even its hemispherical plant form echoed the spherical theme. And the previous installment of this "It can be fun...Part 3" message thread led off with a very ball-like bloom. Even some of my recent scabiosa flowered breeders have a very compact bloom structure, like the specimen in this picture.
I like the "two-phase" aspect of that bloom, as if a curled-petal double bloom were sitting on top of a flat-petal, single, daisy-like bloom.
Before I expanded the thumbnail, I thought it was two spheres, one sitting on top of another, which it had squashed a little - like a double-scoop ice cream cone.
This may seem a contradiction, but I confidently expect to be frequently surprised by what comes out of recombining inbred strains that have similar forms. Millions of genes plus nature's unlimited inventiveness always throw up "rogues" even within an old, very-inbred line.
And even if that goes slowly, I still get to enjoy cheerful flowers and brighten my home and yard. And if I get bored, one year I'll just plant the giant catus strains closer to the "ball zinnias" and leave the nets off. The year after that, I don't expect to be bored!
"Infinite diversity in infinite combinations."
Actually, the most valuable trait for my situation will be selected for automatically and unavoidably. Zinnias that will go to seed before fall rains rot the blooms will be the only kind I can save seed from. And those that mature many seeds after cutting, in vases indoors, will be strongly selected for.
>> Our overall preferences in zinnia flower form are rather opposite. I respect that. In general, I do like for the flowers to spread out with lots of "air" between the petals. I like to be able to "see through" the flower because it is so open in structure.
I'm very glad that other people are inventing or discovering pretty things that I would not have thought to pursue. Being able to say "Wow!" about someone else's work is the best of both worlds (they do the work, and I get to enjoy the result!)
I really hope that your hobby produces something unique, spectacular, popular and (eventually) stable, so that I can order 1,000 seeds of "Zinnia Zen Explosion" from Hazzards. Then, when visitors to my garden say "Wow!", I can say "I know the gardener who developed that - we chatted online a lot."
I am really doing zinnia breeding for fun, as a hobby, and not for profit. And, besides, my seeds don't come true enough to satisfy the average zinnia grower. If a few years in the future I have some reasonably dependable strains, I might consider selling some. But I suspect that going commercial would take the fun out of it. I would be much more open to trading seeds with fellow zinnia breeders. That could be a win-win, and avoid the headaches of commercialism.
Incidentally, I have been excited by several new zinnias this year, including this one, which I tentatively call a "Spider Toothy". It has a totally new flower form for zinnias. I have been fortunate enough to have several other "toothy zinnias" and I am inter-crossing them. I am cautiously optimistic that I will be well on my way to a new strain of zinnias with this flower form by next year. And I look forward to crossing Toothy zinnias with other zinnia flower forms as a precursor to creating more new flower forms to come.
Excuse my delay in answering you. Things have been busy here. I sent you a D-Mail just now. This is a picture of a pair of blooms on an "aster flowered" recombinant. I particularly like this specimen, so I have been giving it full breeder status, with hand pollination. Even though only two blooms show in the picture, there are several more blooms on the plant. I have been working toward producing an Aster Flowered strain of zinnias, with longer narrower petals than the commercial "dahlia flowered" zinnias have.
That plum colored marigold form is a recuring form at random with the zinnias I grown for the past 6 or 7 years from seeds I kept from my own garden, Is that common as the color seems to be? Although the form never seems to breed true.
These are some interesting info pages Thanks for sharing. OH stopped in after talking with corey. Helpful fellow. j
The color is fairly common, but the marigold flower form is very rare in zinnias. In fact, I have never seen the marigold flower form in any zinnia that did not have scabiosa flowered ancestry. When I first saw the scabiosa flowered zinnias years ago, I was unimpressed by their small flower size. I crossed them with larger flowered zinnias in an effort to increase their size, but I was surprised and delighted by some of the new flower forms that appeared in their recombinants.
"Although the form never seems to breed true."
They certainly don't breed 100% true. Even the commercial Candy Mix strain has that problem. But I cull and remove the off-type ones and intercross the ones that show desirable scabiosa influenced flower forms, and I get a reasonably good yield of "scabi" recombinants. And I have been seeing some unexpected desirable new zinnia traits in the scabi offspring that don't relate to the flower form.
For example, the zinnia pictured here (with my shorthand code of E13) was grown from a seed from a specimen coded as C72, and C72 was described in my notebook as a "semi-echinacea flowered magenta pink". So it was a scabi recombinant grown from a petal seed from a previous scabi coded as C46. (With scabis, I sometimes distinguish between petal seeds, which could be cross pollinated, and floret seeds, which are almost always selfed.) The flowers on this zinnia were a rather common medium-sized cactus flowered form. It had a good orange color, and it wasn't taking up space from any nearby choice specimens, so I spared it while I was culling that planting, and pretty much ignored it for over a month.
Then I noticed that its plant was spreading like a shrub in a very un-zinnia-like fashion, so I changed my opinion of it, gave it breeder status, and assigned the next-in-line code of E13 to it. It continued to sprawl, eventually reaching over 5 feet across in some directions. It produced dozens of blooms. It had very little pollen, so I wasn't able to self it a lot, but I did cross pollinate it with a variety of my breeders. I am curious to see if its shrub-like plant habit shows up in any of its progeny next year. I may plant a few of its seeds in my indoor zinnia garden this Winter, although I have no idea how I would care for a 5-foot zinnia shrub in my basement under fluorescent lights. I have never had a zinnia plant like this before, so it adds to the suspense in my zinnia breeding hobby. I haven't decided if a shrub plant habit is even a good thing in a zinnia, but it adds interest to next year's zinnia gardening.
I really like the rag mop/shaggy dog zinnias, too. I will continue to breed for that flower form type. The attached picture shows a toothy bi-color whose petals hung down in an unusual way. It bloomed late last Summer. I will be raising its progeny next year, along with a lot of progeny of the original shaggy dog. If I can get a decent number of rag mop flowers (I like your name for them), I can inter-cross them and get more variety and colors in that flower form.
"...especially if you come up with the plant habit in different colors."
And I would like to get the shrub zinnia in different flower forms, as well. Toward that end, I crossed E13 with a variety of my breeders, including this pictured zinnia, designated as E2, that had unusual tubular petals, shaped like little trumpets. Unlike some other zinnias with tubular petals that I have had in the past, E2 had all of its flowers with the same consistent unique flower form. Fortunately E2 had a lot of blooms on its plant and produced quite a lot of pollen.
I crossed E2 with a wide variety of my breeders, and I can hardly wait to see what those hybrids will look like. And how will the trumpet petal genes recombine with other petal traits, including scabious, toothy and bi-colored, in subsequent re-hybridized generations? Ultimately, I would like to get zinnias whose petals are very large open trumpets, almost like each petal being a morning glory blossom. Maybe E2 can be the starting point for that venture. I am entering some unexplored territory with the trumpet petal zinnia hybrids.
Breeding zinnias is not at all complicated. At the base of each zinnia petal, there is a yellow forked "tendril", which is the stigma for that petal. You simply apply the pollen to the stigma. In about three weeks there will be a viable seed attached to that petal. The yellow stigmas show up particularly well against the purple petals in this picture. As you can see, the stigmas are readily accessible, with no "surgery" required. You can pollinate or cross-pollinate a lot of zinnia seeds in only a few minutes.
So you can cross more than one variety on a bloom if you wanted to? But of course, keeping track would be a nightmare - one would brush the same pollen on all of the stigmas? Do you cover your opening blooms in some way to keep the bees from getting there first? How many different kinds are you working with; they probably don't have names, just seedling A x seedling B etc. or 2010 pink shaggy x 2009 pink shrub, etc.?
"So you can cross more than one variety on a bloom if you wanted to?"
Yes indeed. I usually do use more than one kind of pollen on a bloom, based partly on availability of fresh pollen, and partly on my "strategy" for that particular zinnia plant. On any given day, I usually use the same kind of pollen on the open stigmas on a particular bloom. For example, on one of my zinnia breeders, I knew that the lower petals were pollinated with my trumpet flowered breeder, while the upper petals were pollinated with selected aster flowered zinnias. But I made no attempt to label or designate individual petals. I suppose that could be done, but the record keeping would be horrendous, as you guessed. Sometimes, from the appearance of the hybrid and knowledge of the mother seed parent, you can make a good guess about the male pollen donor.
"Do you cover your opening blooms in some way to keep the bees from getting there first?"
Yes, I use "hairnets" of various designs, as needed. This was an odd hot and dry summer and, for some reason there were very few bees in July and August. So I didn't bother. But then in September the bees showed up, honey bees, carpenter bees, and bumblebees, so I netted my best breeders, both to keep the bees from getting pollen, and to prevent them from randomly pollinating my breeders. Incidentally, the zinnia nets are also a good way to protect your zinnia seeds from seed eating birds.
"How many different kinds are you working with; they probably don't have names...?"
All of my breeders for this year have a code beginning with the letter E. A few of my more unique breeders also get a name, like "Buff Baby" or "Master Aster" or whatever comes to mind for that particular special specimen. I am currently shucking seeds from E90. I will probably be continuing the E series until the end of the year indoors. Any indoor or outdoor specimens designated in 2012 will start with the letter F. I got serious about the zinnia hobby in 2006 and started coding my selected specimens with a simple number, like 1, 2, 3, etc. I frequently get a second generation of zinnias outdoors in the same year, and so in 2006 the progeny of 1 were labelled as 1-0, 1-1, 1-2, etc.
In 2007 I realized that my labels would be unwieldy if I continued with the complete ancestry scheme, so I "started over" with A1, A2, A3, etc. My 2008 labels were B1, B2, B3, etc, my 2009 labels began with C, my 2010 labels began with D, and my labels this year all begin with E. I keep all the info for each label in a notebook, so that the labels that I attach to the plants can be small with just the code. That way I have the maternal ancestry of each breeder in my notebook. The male ancestry of each breeder is usually uncertain.
"How many different kinds are you working with...?"
Approximately 100 breeders are chosen for intensive pollination and cross-pollination in any given year. Each year I seem to plant more zinnias. I planted about a thousand zinnias last year and about two thousand zinnias this year. Both years I culled out and removed about 90 percent of them, and designated only a small fraction of the remainder as breeders.
Incidentally, I prefer to use Kelly forceps, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelly_forceps#Kelly_forceps like in the attached picture, to pick pollen florets and rub them on the target stigmas. Indoors, when the pollen just tends to pile up in the center of the florets, I frequently use a small watercolor brush to dip into the pollen and apply it.
Very interesting! The indoor pollen - you pick the bloom that you want to use for pollen? Do you keep it in the fridge and use the pollen on outdoor plants? Do you have a flickr page or other site where you keep photos of your experiments?
"The indoor pollen - you pick the bloom that you want to use for pollen? Do you keep it in the fridge and use the pollen on outdoor plants?"
I won't go into the details why, but zinnia pollen is good for only a few hours after it is released. So by the time I am pollinating outdoor plants, my indoor operation has shut down for the season. It's too bad that zinnia pollen is so perishable, otherwise we could mail it back and forth among fellow zinnia breeders.
Pollination in the indoors phase is particularly convenient for several reasons. There are no bees or winds to disturb the pollen as it is pushed out of the florets, and you can set two zinnia pots side-by-side for very convenient pollen transfer. I have had some very high seed yields from indoors cross-pollinated zinnias. Incidentally, a zinnia bloom takes two or three weeks to develop fully, so you can spend several weeks pollinating and re-pollinating a zinnia bloom, if you are so inclined.
Each day, more petals with receptive stigmas emerge, and a zinnia stigma can remain receptive for over a week. A stigma that is successfully pollinated withers and dies within a day or two, signalling you of your success with it. But if you didn't succeed, you will have repeated opportunities to try again with it. With a little persistence you can get a seed at the base of nearly all of the petals of a zinnia flowerhead.
"Do you have a flickr page or other site where you keep photos of your experiments?"
I don't have a site where my pictures are directly available for public viewing. I do imbed links to numerous pictures over in the "It can be fun to breed your own zinnias" message series over in GardenWeb's Annuals forum.
We are up to Part 17 over at GW. Like here, the "It can be fun" message parts there are cross-linked head-to-tail and tail-to-head so that, with a little (or a lot of) patience, you can read and view the whole message series. Unlike here, GardenWeb allows pictures to be imbedded directly in message bodies, which has some advantages and some disadvantages.
It is predicted to rain here tomorrow, so I am saving a few remaining brownheads of zinnia seeds today. That will pretty much end my outdoor zinnia operations for the season. But my indoor phase is just starting again, with lots of interesting zinnia projects to consider.
So you grow some zinnia indoors in pots? They probably need a very sunny window, but since you are in AZ you have this year round. I would kind of like to read the whole thread you have posted, if I can figure out how to do it over a period of time. I wonder if anyone has tried to breed hardier zinnias. Probably a lost cause!
I do grow zinnias indoors in pots, but not in a sunny window (I am in eastern Kansas, not Arizona). I use banks of bright fluorescent lights in our basement. Obviously I can't grow nearly as many zinnias inside as outside. I can grow a thousand or two zinnias outside, while I can grow only a few dozen zinnias inside. But they can be choice breeders, and they can add a generation or two to my yearly zinnia growing. And give me a pleasant brightly lit Winter hobby.
"I wonder if anyone has tried to breed hardier zinnias. Probably a lost cause!"
Probably. But it is not entirely beyond the realm of possibility, if you consider possible inter-species zinnia hybridization. The genus Zinnia consists of 19 species of annual herbs or perennial shrubs or subshrubs. Six of those species are shrubs or subshrubs, and they are all in Zinnia subgenus Diplothrix. The only species in Zinnia subgenus Diplothrix that is cultivated extensively as an ornamental is the Rocky Mountain Zinnia, Z. grandiflora.
The Rocky Mountain Zinnia is a perennial subshrub that is cold hardy to U.S. Zone 4 and it is also drought tolerant. So some zinnia species can be fairly cold hardy, but not the Zinnia violaceas (also known as Zinnia elegans) that I am working with. As far as I know, no one has tried crossing Zinnia elegans with the Rocky Mountain Zinnia. I think it might take some high tech bio-engineering to make that cross work. I'm not ready to tackle anything like that, just yet. And I am not sure that hardy zinnias would be a good thing, anyway. However, when I watched my "shrub zinnia" develop, I thought of those six species of wild shrub zinnias. Attached is another picture of my "shrub zinnia", taken before a killing frost got it. So it wasn't cold hardy.
"Between a late, cold spring and a very cool summer, my zinnias were late and stunted this year. "
Our weather here was also not the best year for zinnias. We had a cool Spring and a dry Summer and Fall, none of which was to the liking of my zinnias. My zinnias were more than a foot taller last year.
The climate in your area (Everett, Washington) is not well suited for garden zinnias (Z. elegans, Z. marylandica, and Z. angustifolia), which are basically hot weather plants. Your average high temperatures for June, July, August, and September are 68, 73, 74, and 69 respectively. Your mild climate is excellent for many things, but it is far from ideal for zinnias. If they have enough water, zinnias actually thrive in hot weather.
However, if you are saving seeds from your better zinnias, you are in effect breeding zinnia strains that are better adapted to your growing conditions. I started my zinnia hobby seriously in Maine back in 2005, and my zinnias adapted to Maine's weather. (Zinnias are native to Mexico.) I even had "volunteer" zinnias that self-seeded and came up in the Spring after overwintering in ground that was frozen rock solid and sub zero for extended periods. I was amazed that they could survive that. When we moved to Kansas back in the Winter of 2008 I brought some strains of zinnia seeds that were seriously confused by the abrupt change in climate.
I don't know if the climate "shock" had anything to do with it, but it wasn't until I grew my Maine strains here in Kansas that I noticed the "toothy" petal ends, like in the accompanying picture. I had over a dozen "toothy" specimens this year, so I inter-crossed them and I plan to grow a small garden of them next year, hoping to be able to select further improved examples of this flower form.
I suspected as much, even though I did have a few years of bushy, fairly vigorous Zinnias. I think we actually had some warm days that year!
I was so unimpressed with Benary Giants in a cool summer that I may go back to my saved seeds (two years of growth in my garden). But I may give the BGs another chance in coastal WA before giving the rest away.
I had a great zinnia plant this summer that got a lot of water from a spraying leaky hose that went right by where it was growing. It wasn't mildewed at all, rather lush and green and a very profuse bloomer. I have heard that you can prevent mildew with a milk spray. I always thought that too much humidity was the cause of mildew. Your previous zinnia threads are interesting, I especially like the reverse bicolor (lighter center) So many interesting variations!
"I especially like the reverse bicolor (lighter center)"
Me too. It is fairly easy to get white tips on the ends of the petals, but it is very rare to get white at the base of the petals. There are a lot of untapped bicolor and tricolor color patterns in zinnias, and finding them is an interesting challenge. I would like to get a whole strain of zinnias with white petal bases, like in the attached picture, but with various colors on the petal ends. That is going to take some doing. I was very surprised at the appearance of my red over white specimen. White petal ends are very common.
"I may go back to my saved seeds (two years of growth in my garden). But I may give the BGs another chance..."
Benary Giants aren't a favorite of mine, mainly because they are bred so specially for the commercial cutflower growers. But you might grow both, and cross them. I like Burpee's Burbeeana Giants, and Burpee's Hybrids for large flowers. The zinnias in this picture were a cross between the two in the hope of getting larger flowered zinnias on more bush-like plants. The pink one in the left foreground did a fair job of meeting that objective.
And, of course, I like the Whirligig strain for its endless color pattern variations. l also like the scabiosa flowered zinnias, but they are kind of problematic because so many of their commercial strains have such high percentages of off-type specimens.
I'm always amazed and impressed by the "mop-head" and "spidery" forms you create. My very favorite was the coloration of the "freaky-streaky explosion in a paint factory" bloom.
From catalogs, I thought the BG and Oklahoma varieties would have more "ball-like" or spherical blooms, but not for me, this year. They had more of the flat daisy pattern I like least. Could cold conditions or insufficent fertilizer and compost make a "double" bloom come out "single"?
I'm starting to think that "Liliput" are closest to what I want.
It's funny: that was what my memory said, but pictures I saw in online seed catalogs made me think thast Liliput were flat and Benary Giants spherical. Now I think the opposite, from blooms that grew this year (very cold spring and summer).
Ball-like or spherical zinnia blooms (like in this attached picture, which I first showed quite some time ago) can have a nice look, particularly if they are on a similarly shaped plant, a bush that has a more spherical or hemispherical dome shape.
"Could cold conditions or insufficent fertilizer and compost make a "double" bloom come out "single"?"
I think so. The Park Seed catalog suggested that transplanting a double zinnia could make it single. If you dig a zinnia up, and move it somewhere else, there is certainly loss of roots and disturbance to the remaining roots (root hairs are quite delicate). But I don't do that with my zinnias that I start indoors. I let them get a little root-bound in the pot, and then the whole rootball slips out as an integral unit that I can place in the ground with no root disturbance at all.
There is a lot to learn about the art and the science of growing zinnias. I continue to learn more in that area all the time, and realize that I have a lot more to learn and a lot of experimentation to do.
Back to the round ball zinnia bloom subject, I think they can look quite good and that could be a very good flower form. However, I prefer that petals not be so massively overlapping as they are in this picture. I would like to have spherical blooms with spikey or narrow petals, to let a lot more air into the bloom. The classic zinnia blooms, with petals that closely overlap like shingles, provide a lot of concealed internal space in which bad bugs (like aphids and thrips) can live. And a dark, hidden environment between closely packed petals could be favorable to some molds and mildews.
But I do like the overall ball shape of the zinnia in this picture. Zinnias tend to vary and be genetically malleable, so that you can influence them a lot by selecting the ones you like and selfing and inter-crossing them, and save those seeds. Oklahoma is an improved Cut-and-Come-Again zinnia, and they can have some nice ball-like blooms. That would be something that you could select for, to get ever more spherical blooms.
"I'm starting to think that "Lilliput" are closest to what I want."
Their blooms are ball-like, but they have small blooms. I grew some Gem zinnias this year, which are basically Lilliputs on a more compact plant, and they had disappointingly tiny blooms. A lot of their blooms were only one-half to three quarters of an inch in diameter. You can get larger ball-like zinnias without being forced into really tiny flowers. It's not easy to show more than one picture at a time here on Dave's Garden, so I will elaborate on this in additional messages, mainly because I need to show some additional illustrative pictures.
Back to the subject of your zinnia blooms being flat and daisy-like this year, instead of spherical. When a zinnia bloom first opens, it is single, because it hasn't had time to put out more than one row of petals. As it adds more rows of petals, the bloom becomes deeper and the overall shape of the flower becomes more spherical. All of the blooms in this picture are on the same zinnia plant, which in this case is a marigold flowered zinnia similar to the carnation-flowered marigolds. Those blooms are in various stages of development. So it may be that your zinnias this year just didn't have enough time or energy to form as many rows of petals as they could have.
I think you can find the rounded flower look in nearly any zinnia strain, like in this Whirligig. If you grow quite a few zinnias, you can find nearly anything. Zinnias are very variable, and full of surprises. And you can amplify that a lot by making your own crosses and saving recombinations from those crosses, or by making crosses between crosses.
>> Oklahoma is an improved Cut-and-Come-Again zinnia,
>> I grew some Gem zinnias this year, which are basically Lilliputs on a more compact plant,
Probably I got those ideas from you a year ago, because I bought both Cut-and-C-A and Gem in hopes of getting some spherical blooms, then might select for larger ones. I thought the Benary Giants had big blooms that weren't far from spherical.
But, this year, no Zinnia that survived came out as I had hoped. Oh, well, that's what next year is for.
>> When a zinnia bloom first opens, it is single, because it hasn't had time to put out more than one row of petals. As it adds more rows of petals, the bloom becomes deeper and the overall shape of the flower becomes more spherical.
>> So it may be that your zinnias this year just didn't have enough time or energy to form as many rows of petals as they could have.
I bet you're exactly right. Seed catalogs are going to show blooms with optimum development, and the Benary Giants I grew weren't even "double", let alone piled higher and deeper into a sphere.
I think i can get away with densely-packed packed petals in a good year, with little risk of disease and pests, because we have little rain in the summer. If I never watered from above, blooms would stay dry until late Septemebr - at which time they turn to moldy sponges.
"But, this year, no Zinnia that survived came out as I had hoped. Oh, well, that's what next year is for."
Let's hope you get a least a few full nearly rounded zinnia blooms this year. If you cull out the rejects and save seeds from your favorite rounded blooms, you should have a better results in the next generation.
I don't know how it is in your growing season, but here in the MidWest it is possible to grow two generations of zinnias outdoors in the same year, by starting the first generation early under fluorescent lights and setting them out in a fairly advanced stage after the danger of frost has passed. Then, by saving green seeds from the first blooms, you can plant them and get a second generation that can set viable green seeds before a killing frost.
I think I have discussed the green-seed zinnia technique before. By using green zinnia seeds, you save the several weeks that it takes for a zinnia bloom to die and become a dry brown seedhead. A full zinnia head that is still alive with colored petals can have viable green seeds with living embryos in them. When you save green seeds in the Fall, spread them out on something like an old newspaper to dry out before you package them for storage.
But if you are plucking green seeds out of your zinnia heads to start a second generation, just split the seed jacket some way to let the embryo inside get immediate contact with water. Otherwise, you have to wait for the green seed jacket to die before it becomes water permeable, and that can take two weeks or so. The seed coat of a green seed is itself still living, and impermeable to water. There are several other advantages to the green seed technique, as an alternative to the conventional practice of letting the zinnia blooms die and become brown before saving the seeds.
Some scabious zinnia specimens can have rounded flower forms, as in the attached picture.
This year I am even "behinder" on garden chores than usual. My current passion is Sal;vias, and I should hahve started them indoors a few weeks ago.
Instead, I'm still floundering about where to put some over-wintered plants, so i can free up my light shelf for ne wseedlings. And they are COVERED with what i assumer are aphids. Like sprinkles on ice cream! It's surprising that the leaves aren;t full of holes or spots, it's as if they are immumne to the aphids.
Do you plan to do anything about the "aphids"? What kind of plants are they on? In the past I used systemic imidacloprid as a first line of defense on my indoor zinnias. It is effective against aphids and thrips, but completely worthless against spider mites.
My first plan is to move them outside under plastic for warmth. If they continue to resist being punctured, the aphids are welcome to stay there until ladybugs or some other predator discovers them.
1. Find time
2. buy "EMT conduit"
3. bend conduiit into low hoops
4. find light cheap wire or bamboo for "purlins" (horizontal ribs)
5. lash ribs to hoops so I can lift & move the assembly.
6. move plants to deck, scatter slug bait & beer saucers, cover with plastic
7. hope they dont freeze or cook or get eaten
I know that "hoop houses" are commonly used for protecting market garden plants and row-crop plants, and they even have special bending tools to bend the long-radius conduit hoops. The tools I have seen for bending conduit in the Home Stores seemed more appropriate for small radius bends. What diameter of EMT conduit do you plan to use? Hopefully something relatively easy to bend.
I think if I were making a "lift & move" assembly, I would consider PVC pipe and available fittings and joining compounds. PVC pipe is lighter in weight than conduit. Some people even make lawn furniture out of PVC pipe and fittings. Based on the available fittings at the Home Stores, I would probably go with a rectangular box construction with right angle fittings and straight PVC pieces. I might buy a PVC cutter.
But keep us informed of your progress on this project. Sounds interesting. Photos would be welcome. We can now attach as many as 5 photos to a message. Go ladybugs! Eat those aphids.
I always thoguht the hoops looked nicer than clunky PVC glued into right-angle connectors. But gluing sounds easier than bending! If it were easy to bend PVC into permanent hoops (instead of bending it under tension), I would prefer that.
From what I read, PVC bent with heat is prone to buckling unless you fill it with sand first, heat it, bend, and then remove the sand.
I would use the thinnest/cheapest EMT conduit - so-called 1/2", which I think has a bigger OD than that.
I'm also thinking of some temporary coverings for this year, based on sections of fairly heavy wire fence with plastic film draped over it.
That's not what they are designed for, but I have on occasion used one to save a plant from a frost. And you can usually find a use for the storage boxes when not using them over plants.
A variation would be to use four storage boxes over plants at the corners of an area and then to drape plastic film over those boxes to cover additional plants in the area between the boxes. Just sort of "thinking outside the box" here.
I haven't tried myself, but varous sources sugegst doing it with a heat gun or a specialized "PVC heater" (250 F). I was thinking that might be faked up with some cinder blocks or concrete pacers, and one or more heat guns.
Thanks for those links. I wasn't aware of it, but obviously there are several tools and techniques that you can use to bend PVC pipe. There is a lot of information on tools for bending PVC and bending jigs at
The Pipe Viper, in conjunction with a bending jig, could make a project like yours very feasible to do in PVC. However, I think the market gardeners prefer to use EMT because it is stronger than PVC, and easier to bend.
I am also interested in dome structures for use in gardening projects. A dome could be the basis for a gazebo or an arbor or a support structure for training vines and other plants up on. I suppose you could use small domes as shelters for your plants. Dome structures have been adapted for use as greenhouses.
I know that some smaller domes have been made from EMT. I suppose it is possible that a dome could be made from PVC, although I don't recall seeing that done. Well, when you get time, keep us informed about the progress of your project.
(not associated with any product or vendor mentioned or linked)
It expensive, because it is meant for market gardeners who are bending a lot of EMT for low tunnel crop protectors. You could probably make a homemade version of it out of a few scraps of plywood and a jig saw. However, I think with a little trial-and-error, you could use one of those inexpensive small-radius EMT benders to bend a larger radius by bending the EMT a little, moving the bender a little, bend the EMT a little more, etc. There are a lot of sources for short-radius EMT benders.
"It sounds as if the Pipe Viper leaves some kind of spring steel behind to hold the PVC bent: I think that, without heat, it would HAVE to spring back.
You don't leave the Pipe Viper behind. It is a "Slinky-style" steel spring that you pull out of the bent PVC after you complete the bend. Its purpose is simply to prevent the PVC pipe from collapsing at the bend while you are doing the bend. You are instructed to "overbend" the PVC somewhat, to compensate for the tendency of cold PVC pipe to "spring back" some after the bend. It is kind of a trial-and-error process: bend, let go of it to see how much spring-back occurs, bend some more, let go again, etc. Professional PVC installers probably learn to do just the right amount of overbend on the first try. The Pipe Viper spring does not hold the PVC in place, so when you get the bend right with it in place, you can extract it, using the chain or wire that is attached to its end, and the PVC will continue to hold its shape, at least for a while.
Like I mentioned previously, I was amazed that you could cold-bend PVC. You could probably also the use the Pipe Viper for bending heated PVC pipe. The Pipe Viper is probably much more convenient to use than packing the pipe with sand to keep it from collapsing while making a hot bend. If I were planning to bend a lot of PVC for some craft projects, which I am not, I would probably invest in a PVC Bendit.
Me, too! I bet it weakens the PVC, but I don't really know. I saved all of the links but only followed a few.
I'll start with the EMT, and just figure out a low-cost method for bending a few lengths, no matter how time-consuming or awkward. For several of my beds, I want an 'asymetrical' design, with the peak quite near one of the rasied bed walls. I need to throw rain off onto the downhill side. A big part of "as soon as the soil can worked" where I live is getting soil to be dry enough that it isn't "clay pudding". Then I want to keep the whole bed warm enough for seed to sprout instead of rot, until I have a few things coming up.
Once I have that, I might start some low things that are cold tolerant once established - like Brassicas like Bok Choy - litterally 8 weeks sooner than I would otherwise, and only put a tent over the growing plants for unusually cold nights. All of February and March are almost warm enough for many things, yet April and May might get colder than most things really like.
My little bamboo (Fargesia rufa) is still imitating tall grass rather than flagpoles or even fishing rods. And it's going to be 4 years old this year! I was hoping to use those at least for 'purlins' - not very load-bearing but provideing stability and anti-flapping between the stronger hoops.
>> You can also bend acrylic tube and sheet materials like ABS and polycarbonate
The PVC BendIt might also help bend clear corrugated materials (polycarbonate?). I was thinking of trying to make a coldframe from one of those. However, I'm guessing that more than half of it needs to be wood or other good insulator, to RETAIN overnight, the heat that was collected during the day.
That name always bothers me: why call it a "cold frame" if you built it to collect and hold solar heat? I know the reason is that they aren't artificialy heated, with electricity, gas or decomposing manure, but it still bothers me.
"The PVC BendIt might also help bend clear corrugated materials (polycarbonate?)."
You could probably bend corrugated sheets along one of the ridges or valleys, but I think it would be really hard to bend corrugated materials "against the grain".
I have had bad luck with acrylic. I made a squirrel barrier from it for a bird feeder support pole, and it broke in a storm. I replaced that with a polycarbonate version, which worked just fine. Acrylic is a little more "water clear" than polycarbonate, but polycarbonate is a lot more durable. Acrylic can crack almost like glass, but I have never had polycarbonate do that.
I think you could make a cold frame from wood with stapled on plastic sheeting, poly something that is available in the Home stores. If you felt the need, you could put on more than one layer of the poly film.
The under-performance of your little bamboo is interesting. I wonder if it could be a nutritional deficiency. Rice farmers routinely use fertilizers that include soluble silicates. Silicon is not a required nutrient for plant growth, but plants readily take it up and use it, if it is available. They will actually use quite a lot of it. Silicon strengthens cell walls and other plant structures and, in the case of rice, the absence of available silicon causes weak stems. Rice stem breakage results in significant crop losses. So it pays to buy silicon for the rice. Bamboo? I dunno.
In the case of zinnias, silicon can enhance disease resistance, and I routinely include some soluble potassium silicate in the dilute nutrients that I use on my indoor plants. And, of course, the plants can use the potassium. Just don't use too much potassium silicate, because it is somewhat alkaline. I haven't experimented with potassium silicate as a foliar feed. I probably should do that. My outdoors zinnias could benefit from stronger stems in these Kansas winds, and I have no idea how much silicon, if any, is available in soluble form in my garden soil.
Interesting thought about the silicates. "Clay" soil might or might not offer sufficient silicate - I don't know what kind of clay I have.
I would be quick to assume the crummy soil it has under it was a problem, but reading suggests that the roots won't go deep in bad OR good soil. I do provide a little fertilizer like 10-10-10 or 'lawn food' higer in nitrogen, and water it.
But I've never bought or added a silicate-rich plant food ... hmm.
Since it is at the top of a slight slope, and in a 6" raised bed above that grade, I think it has fair drainage despite the clay.
It is in rather a lot of shade - there are trees here and there, one quite close, and a Rhododendron taller than it is quite close. (I have too many big plants in a small yard!
I've been hoping that "it's just young yet", and "I'm just impatient". But it has had almost 4 years since it was in a 1/2 gallon pot from Home Depot. At least there is hope: the culms are a little longer each year: perhaps 4-6" longer. becuase of the gracefull "droop", it is not getting much taller!
If the culms keep getting longer and thicker, eventually I will be able to use them as weak hoops, without bending them!
I found a photo of him shortly after he came out of his pot, and it seems that he's only 2 1/2 years old, not almost 4!
I must have planted him around July 2009. So there is hope yet. I'll look into a silicate supplement, maybe the farm co-op in Snohomish would stock it.
"I would be quick to assume the crummy soil it has under it was a problem, but reading suggests that the roots won't go deep in bad OR good soil."
But the shallow roots will get more benefit from good soil.
"Since it is at the top of a slight slope, and in a 6" raised bed above that grade, I think it has fair drainage despite the clay."
When they speak of "drainage" in relation to soil, they aren't talking about the slope of the surface. In this context, "drainage" refers to the porosity of the soil. If it were me, I would lift that bamboo from that bed, save the porous looking soil in the top layer, remove the clay to a dept of a foot or more, and replace it with some porous soil. Perhaps sand or a sandy loam.
Or, even better, I would increase the height of the raised bed by a foot or more and fill it with a porous growing medium. I would place the bamboo back into that environment. Clay does a good job of retaining water, which is the opposite of drainage, and clay excludes oxygen, which, as you know, is needed by plant roots as much or more than water. Also, that picture shows a rather light green color of the leaves, suggesting one or more nutrient deficiencies. I think that bamboo needs a lot more than silicon.
I have thought about prying it out and digging down and amending, but then I would also have to deepen the drainage trench - the slope is very shallow, and the clay is so imprevious that anything below grade becomes a permanent puddle if not trenched.
I will probably just keep widening the tiny bed and making the peripehry a little deeper than the center, especially if I extend it "downslope" more than along the sidewalk.
The light green MIGHT be partly due to having just been transplanted from the pot, but you may be right that even shallow roots need some decent soil.
I found a more recent photo (F. rufa at 2 years of age).
And a shot of what my soil looks like when I dig down, but don;t trench the water away.
Thanks, I like being able to tweak a bed as easily as moving furniture.
If I still have enoguh energy and cash after retiring, I look forward to lots of outdoor fiddling.
I'm sure the builders bulldozed away anything remotely resembling topsoil ... or sub-soil. Those geniuses did lay down some drainage pipe (very shallowly burried), but haste and ease were all they cared about. I wiondered why the eixsting (4"?) drainage pipe didn't drain. So I followed it downslope, scraping off the covering of heavy clay and rocks.
After dropping perhaps 6-8" along the length of my dfriveway, it looped UP AND OVER a big tree root, so that a length of the "downslope" pipe was higher than any "upslope" part. I would sneer at thyem for forgetting that water only runs downhill, but forgetting that was what led me to create my little mud-wallow shown above.
Man! That took DAYS to drain!
But now I wish I still had a patch that wet, becuase I've tried to grow a semi-aquatic sub-tropical "Water Spinach" (Ipomoea aquatica, "Water Convolvulus", "Swamp Cabbage", phakbung, kangkung, "kong syin tsai"), an Asian vegetable of many names.
A second startegy for the bamboo is to top-dress with MORE compost and manure and 10-10-10 than I did during the last two years. Those products you gave a link to look affordable, though I always hate to pay for the shipping.
Thanks, ZM, but I'm both too cheap and too stubburn to buy ready-made if I can improvise or do without. It will take me several years to try enough things to comnvicnde myself that I can't, or it isn;t worth my time, to make frost protection myself.
Some of my second generation "trumpet petaled" zinnias are now in bloom. Hybridization and recombination have added several colors in addition to the original red. I have more seedlings entering the budding stage, so I should have the opportunity to observe some additional recombinations of the trumpet-petal genes in the next few weeks. More later. I feel relatively confident that the trumpet-petal genes are embedded in my zinnia gene pool. I say "genes", because I have seen repeated evidence that the trumpet petals can present themselves in a variety of forms.
I usually cull single zinnias, but occasionally I see a single zinnia that for one reason or another seems "right" to me. Actually, a lot of the Whirligig strain of zinnias are single, and they have the appearance of a daisy or a gaillardia and they can look fine in the landscape or garden. And some people might consider my echinacea flowered zinnias to be single.
On a somewhat different note, this picture shows a current single zinnia that is a recombinant with trumpet-petaled genes, and I kind of like it. The individual petals remind me a bit of pitcher plants, although that little beetle peeking out of one pitcher petal kind of proves that this isn't a carnivorous plant. I'm not quite sure what I want to call this zinnia. But it does pique my curiosity as to what surprises I can expect next in the recombinations with trumpet petal genes.
It has since put out a lot more flowers. It's a single, so I am not too wild about it, despite its unusual petals. I will save seeds from it, though, because some of the progeny might somehow be better.
My zinnia did not do well this year and this is and only little off thread, I had a huge plum bloom much like where ZM is talking about scabious rounded forms. That bloom was as big as a football mum. Zinnia are wonderful with there many forms and colors/