PlantFiles is getting a new look! Just in time for spring, we're rolling out a new look for the best online plants database. It will also work with your smart phones and mobile devices, so now you can take it with you on garden center visits or botanical garden tours. Questions or comments? Please post them here.
This forum has me curious. Can anyone answer some of these questions for me? Sorry if it reads like an exam, but it's easier this way.
1. If a flower is a hybrid (has "hybrida" in the name), will its self-pollinated seeds grow? Will they look wacky/like the parent/like a grandparent?
2. If you take a species perennial with 3 blooms on it (Bloom 1, 2, and 3) , and manually cross Bloom 1 with a different species, and Bloom 2 with another different species,
a) will that afffect the parent plant in the future or Bloom 3's seeds?
b) does Bloom 1's hybridization affect Bloom 2's seeds?
c) will the whole plant 'splode?
3. If you swap the pollen from 2 plants (red and blue) so that one has BlueM/RedF material, and the other has BlueF/RedM, will the seeds of both produce different plants? My best guess is they will be more like the Female on each.
(chuckle) Exploding plants have not been a problem for me. But I suppose there is a first time for everything.
You can't depend on the name "hybrida" appearing in a plant's name to tip you off that it is an F1 hybrid, or even of hybrid origin. You can't even depend on a catalog description saying that it is a hybrid. If the seeds are expensive (10 to 20 cents per seed) then it is probably a hybrid.
In answer to your first question, self pollinated seeds of F1 hybrids will usually grow (they are called F2 hybrids) and they will recombine the genes of the F1 parents in interesting ways. People usually say not to try to grow seeds from F1 hybrids. I eagerly do grow their seeds, because I like to see interesting things.
For your question 2a, no, the parent plant will not be affected unless it catches some sort of disease from the pollen you put on it, and that is unlikely.
For your question 2b, no. For 2c, hopefully not. But the attached picture is one of my hybrid-of-hybrid zinnias that kind of 'sploded.
For your question 3, the answer is a kind of yes. Actually, some crosses only work well one way, in that the stigma of one plant can accept pollen from the anther of the other, but not vice versa. In the case when the cross actually works both ways, there may still be some factors that would make the resulting F1 hybrids turn out differently, depending on which plant was used as the female. Mendelian genetics seemed kind of simple, but real world genetics is lots more interesting and complicated.
Thanks for the answers! The seeds I have were 16 and 17 cents each and labelled as "x hybrida" from a seed site.
So I guess people wouldn't want to trade self-sown seeds from F1 Hybrids eh?
I had made a thread before this of another question and would have combined it with this one if I could have. If I cross breed my 2 different F1 hybrids, will they be good/not erratic/not unhealthy/legit plants?
I'm a long way from this of course since they're just 7-leaf plants so far, but I'm growing them inside on a window sil, so there will be no chance of bees or hummingbirds of getting at them and I can experiment.
I love that weird zinnia pic. I am mutant-friendly.
"If I cross breed my 2 different F1 hybrids, will they be good/not erratic/not unhealthy/legit plants? "
If you think about it, there are some interesting implications to crossing one F1 hybrid with another F1 hybrid. When you take pollen grains from an F1 hybrid, those grains aren't actually F1 pollen. They are F2 recombinations pollen grains. And the egg cells in the female F1 plant aren't that plant either, but recombinations from the heterozygous F1 female.
So we don't know what any of those recombinations would look like if we grew them. The cross between two different F1 plants is a cross between virtual F2 plants that we never see. As a hobbyist zinnia breeder, I frequently cross F1 hybrids that I have created by cross pollinating various specimens from commercial open pollinated strains. When I do that, I am crossing virtual recombined pollen grains with virtual recombined egg cells. Each pollen grain and each egg cell is a separate recombination, so there could be tremendous variety in the pollen grains and tremendous variety in the egg cells.
That is why there is so much suspense in watching new hybrids-of-hybrids zinnias bloom for the first time. Each one is a cross between different never-seen-before "virtual" parents, and the results can be unique new specimens, exhibiting unique new never-seen-before hybrid traits. And those unique specimens can be crossed with each other to create even more unique recombinations of genes.
Of course, many of those unique recombinations will not be to our liking. Many will be weird in many ways that do not seem subjectively "good" to us. But "good" is subjective, and different people have different ideas of what is "good". Sturgeon's law says that, "Ninety percent of everything is crud." (The last word is frequently misquoted as "crap".) Actually, I think of it in that second form.
I cull my zinnias with Sturgeon's Law in mind. Actually, if I get 5% "good" from a zinnia grow-out, I feel pretty good, because I am going to save seeds from them and discard the 95% and things get better faster that way. I think that Sturgeon's Law will definitely apply to the progeny from a cross between two different F1 plants. But think of it in a "glass is half empty/half full" way. That 10% or even 5% can make it all worthwhile. I discard many, many zinnias at first bloom, but that still leaves me with a lot of very interesting "breeder" zinnias for further experiments.
The attached picture shows another of my interesting hybrid-of-hybrid zinnias that show traits that never appeared in any of its parents or grandparents. There can be a payoff from crossing F1 hybrid plants with other F1 hybrid plants.
Very enlightening. So the genes break apart at the pollen/egg stage not at the seed stage. It's kind of like having 4 parents.
Cool hybrid hybrid pic!
I'd love to see what kinds of plants come from all of this hybridizing, but I live in an apartment. I don't have the room to scatter a bunch of seeds and see what comes up. Maybe I'll hybridize once and plant 5-6 in the dirt at the side of the building and see what comes of it. All of them are Blue columbines, so maybe there will be some super blues, maybe some other wackiness.
Many of my irises are F1 hybrids. I have even tried selfing (doesn't always work), sibs & half sibs, or no relative which each other at all. I think whichever literature you may be reading is making hybridizing too complicated.
"I think whichever literature you may be reading is making hybridizing too complicated."
Well, the physical act of hybridizing, the transferring of pollen from one flower to a different flower, is simple enough for most species, including iris and zinnias. But the underlying biological and genetic processes are indeed marvelously complicated. It is not the literature that I am reading that makes it complicated. Nature makes it complicated. I enjoy the surprises that Nature provides us. The flowerform on this zinnia was a surprise to me last Fall.
"I'd love to see what kinds of plants come from all of this hybridizing, but I live in an apartment. I don't have the room to scatter a bunch of seeds and see what comes up. Maybe I'll hybridize once and plant 5-6 in the dirt at the side of the building and see what comes of it."
Your circumstances do severely limit any amateur breeding activities. Your original questions concerned the outcomes of various crosses. The inherent randomness of the genetic processes involved makes it nearly meaningless to speculate on the outcomes for a small number of individuals. It's a bit like asking whether the result of flipping a coin will be a head or a tail. Incidentally, if you did have some space available, there are a lot of forms and colors of columbines that you could cross.
Thanks for the seed offer. I don't need any right now, because I am concentrating on planting breeder seeds that I saved, including some from that "explosion in a paint factory". Who knows what they will look like? At least they seem to be germinating well. Not all of my saved seeds do, for reasons that I don't fully understand. Some seeds that I saved in 2006 are germinating well, while some that I saved last year are "zero-germing". There doesn't seem to be any logic to it. I probably should buy a small refrigerator to store my zinnia seeds in. Currently I just keep them in Ziploc bags at room temperature.
I purchased some 2011 Hazzard's seeds, including a bunch of White Cactus flowered, some Benary's Giant White, some Oklahoma White, and some White Gems. I plan to have a separate bed of white zinnias for selecting and inter-crossing, in an attempt to get some significantly better white zinnias. That bed will be about 50 feet from the nearest zinnia bed, hopefully to minimize cross-pollination by bees.
I will carry some choice white pollen over to other zinnia beds, because crosses with white do look good, although they produce pastels and, as far as I know, never white. If you stop to think about it, white is a kind of unique zinnia color, because I don't think there is any white pigment in zinnias. I would be curious to know how zinnias do "make white". Maybe it's tiny air bubbles, or special reflective petal cells.
The zinnia in this picture was from a white female "toothy" zinnia that was crossed with some other pink or rose colored zinnia. I like the "toothy" flower form, and I save seeds from them and inter-cross toothies with other toothies. Eventually, hopefully, I will have a Toothy Zinnia strain in all colors. In the process, I hope that some extremely toothy specimens will appear.
Zen_Man, the zinnia seedling blooming with the tubular petals is a reminder of Gaillardia (Blanket Flower) ssp. 'Fanfare'. which will not come true from seed. At one time, I grew several types of Gaillardias and one self sowed itself in a crack in my driveway. It was a twin of Fanfare. One of Mother Nature's jokes. No wonder you can only propagate it with division.
Gaillardia is one genus of plant that is fun to play hybridization with. I have found that the 3rd generation of self sown seedling can be very interesting in color and form. My daughter grows a lot of Gaillardia due to their drought resistant nature the reason for my observation. I don't grow them anymore due to their invasive habit.
Edit to wonder what causes petals to become tubelike.
Below is the Fanfare imposter growing in the crack of my driveway
"...wonder what causes petals to become tubelike."
Well, I think it is genetic, but it may be governed by more than one gene. One of my breeding goals is to get a tubular petal zinnia strain. As this picture shows, some zinnias can have a Gaillardia-like appearance. I think it would be possible to create a gaillardia flowered strain of zinnias.
The tubular petals of Gaillardia "Fanfare" remind me very much of zinnia florets. If the zinnia in this picture lost it petals, the remainder of the flower would look similar to "Fanfare" and other gaillardias with its flower form. The color here might be a bit un-gaillardia-like,
All are sure pretty. Too bad they don't come true from sees of you would hit the jackpot and could retire.
I used to grow the common types and the mini years ago when I first started to garden and didn't know about annuals and perennials. Now I grow only perennials.
At least you get results quickly. I am doing Iris and daylily crosses, the result in 2+ years. I have some from 2009 in my coldframe that I hope will bloom this year. I am aiming for hardy daylilies for the northern garden, and ofcourse beauty.
The tubular petals I don't think comes from genes. If I'm not mistaken, Gaillardia x grandiflora Is from a natural specie which I have grown and looks much like the grandiflora. There is nothing in its genes that suggests tubular petals. I think likewise with Zinnias. Most likely it is a freak of nature, or weather. I know that last year, 3 varieties of my Irises developed 4 falls instead of the usual 3. According to Schreiner (Iris breeder), it had something to do with the weather. Oddly, those that did, were grown in close proximity to each other.
Below is English Charm, one of the irises with 4 falls as you can see.
"Too bad they don't come true from seeds or you would hit the jackpot and could retire. "
The zinnia breeding is just a hobby for me, with no profit motive whatever.
You are right, my hybrids of hybrids are extremely variable from seeds. Rose breeders (and daylily breeders, iris breeders, lily breeders, etc) do like I do, and make crosses between crosses, resulting in highly complex ancestry.
But when a rose breeder gets a "winner" bloom on a seedling, the process has just begun. A lengthy asexual process of propagation and multiplication begins, and it can be years before the new plants exist in numbers sufficient for commercial introduction.
With zinnias, an extended process of selection and reselection is necessary to "dehybridize" the new specimen into a stable strain or cultivar. It takes time with either the asexual route or the sexual route. Most of our zinnia strains today were stabilized by a multi-generation process of selection, roguing, and reselection for several generations.
I have developed a method of growing zinnias from cuttings. And I am experimenting with tissue culture. So I don't feel too disadvantaged by my situation with zinnias. And they do yield very quick results compared to almost any ornamental.
"The tubular petals I don't think comes from genes."
I dunno. I think they might. At least, a tendency to react to environmental conditions in a peculiar way could inherited. But you are right. Seeds saved from tubulars aren't necessary tubular. I am just hoping that there is a tendency.