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With our different climate & smaller iris size--our seedlings are planted in the small flats used for plants from garden centers. There is a wide trench in our area to protect the roots from freezing dug outside and the boxes are covered with wire to keep the seeds from being eaten. We started that when the cat we had decided it was the best bathroom he ever saw & we do have chipmunks. Our regular pine needle mulch is on top and christmas tree boughs added when it is taken down. So our cold is natural, some people use extra refridgerators for their cold. We would probably have more germination using that method, but possibly more loss when set out in the garden The soil is naturally different in the area planted with new seedlings, and I dip them in rootone when transplanted. Then it is up to the weather, getting rid of weeds which compete and the heritage. Seedlings must be strong to do well in the climate. It can be 2-3 yrs. before we see flowers here/ rick Tasco at Superstition in CA says that their plants can be set out in March & intial bloom by Oct. So each must learn the ways of the home climate.
I don't have the patience for crossings that take two or three years before you get the flowers. I admire those who do, however. But I love both morning glories and cannas. I can't wait to see what you have done with them.
There is a fellow here in town who hybridizes irises. He told me he doesn't get flowers on the crosses until they are 2-3 years old. I think we need to find out how it is done in CA. LOL.
The beauty of working with Japanese Morning Glories is that they are annuals and you get some immediate feedback as they bloom so quckly. The challenge is that advancements and accomplishments must be preserved through seed strains as opposed to being preserved through clones as in irises or cannas for example. Creating and refining reliable seed strains can only be accomplished through multiple generations of aggressive selection. It is fun, but initally requires growing and evaluating many plants individually...and selecting few. It is a numbers game! ...but your odds can be improved with meaningful knowledge and accurate records.
There would be my problem -- evaluating many plants individually, I can do that -- selecting a few -- I have to throw my babies away! Yep, no doubt that would be my downfall. Well, I can grow them, cross them, and watch the rest of you pick out ones to keep while I keep all of mine. LOL.
You can keep all the seed if you want...you just don't need to grow it all! I tend to collect and log all my seed too...as I may discover later that it may contain valuable genetic material. You may find, like many of the gardeners growing these plants in areas where they produce abundant seed, that your collection of saved seed seems to multiply exponentially...then you have to make some decisions as to what to grow and what not to grow, thereby exercising some level of selection!
That is the beauty of this hobby...enjoyment is had at all levels of participation!!
I'm glad to see this forum, and I'll add it to my favorites.
I'm planning to cross a hybrid with an open-pollinated tomato this season, then spend several generations selecting for some qualities I've got in mind to produce a new stable open-pollinated tomato variety.
"The beauty of working with Japanese Morning Glories is that they are annuals and you get some immediate feedback as they bloom so quickly."
That's one of the reasons why I breed zinnias as a hobby. They bloom from seed in less than two months.
"The challenge is that advancements and accomplishments must be preserved through seed strains as opposed to being preserved through clones as in irises or cannas for example."
Until this last year I accepted that as a limitation in my zinnia breeding, because no one talks about propagating zinnias from cuttings and all the books list them as grown from seed. Last Fall, as a killing frost became more imminent, I decided to take cuttings from some of my better breeders. I used the conventional cutting propagation methods that are used for roses. I used a cutting mix of Premier ProMix BX and Perlite, half and half. I sterilized the cuttings with Physan 20 to prevent bacterial rot. I tried several rooting hormones, including Hormex, Rootone, and Dip 'n Grow.
I kept the cuttings under fluorescent lights and under 7-inch high humidity domes until they rooted enough to become self-sufficient without the domes. I got close to 100% rooting success. Roots formed within a week to 10 days and I re-potted the cuttings after a couple of weeks. All of the hormones worked, with the Hormex #1 being a little weak, but the Hormex #3 and even the Hormex #8 (which I feared might be too strong) worked fine, as did the Rootone and the Dip 'n Grow.
As an experiment, you might want to try rooting cuttings from some of your morning glories. If you developed a successful technique, it could be a big aid in your breeding. If you got a really exceptional hybrid morning glory (like, for instance, a yellow one), you could multiply it by cuttings to get a big population of plants, which you could use to get an extra heavy seed yield. You could also experiment with carrying the cuttings over the Winter in pots under fluorescent lights. You could even take cuttings from the cutting plants to further multiply your inventory of plants for a big plant-out the next year. I consider propagation from cuttings an important new tool in my zinnia breeding hobby.
I have read that some species of Ipomoea do readily root from cuttings, especially Ipomoea indica. Japanese Moring Glories are Ipomoea nil, and some may have had success rooting some varieties as well. Those with that experience may chime in!
I may have been limiting myself, but I have always been motivated to get to the next generation of selection, either the first major selection from F2 plants or refining selections from subsequent generations. Getting segregation from which to select has typically not been an issue for me. Now, I will admit that my efforts to date have been probably more basic, in that I have been working to combine known, well documented genes into the more common varieties if JMGs.
As I progress, I am certain that the more subtle combinations of multiple factors will become more important to me...as I learn to first recognize them and understand their value. At that point, your propogation methodologies could really have value, particularly if you discover unique valuable characteristics in a plant, but for instance do not have that perfect mate for it growing at the moment, but suspect that it is somewhere in an identified seed lot you have! Synchronizing blooms, which may be a challenge sometimes, could also be an application with Ipomea breeding programs.
Growing space is always an issue with me, so I have been more vigilant in trying to plan to have the right plants growing, rather than more plants! Because of this space issue, it forces me to stay focused on current projects and not stray too far from plan.
Thanks for stretching my thinking! That is one of the values of this forum! - Arlan
There are a number of pictures of my zinnia hybrids in my message threads in the Annuals forum. The original "My Zany Zinnia Hybrids" became long and slow to load for some people, so I continued the thread in separate extensions. Here are the links:
Since a thrips epidemic wiped out my indoor zinnias a couple of months ago, I have started new generations from seed recently. The thrips caught me completely by surprise. Next time I will be prepared for them with systemic insecticides such as imidacloprid.
Thrips were never a problem for me outside, and they were so small I couldn't see what was killing my indoor plants until it was too late. But, thanks to my fluorescent lights in plant stands and techniques for propagating zinnias by cuttings, I can now carry out my zinnia breeding hobby year-round here in Maine, which is a source of much enjoyment for me.
Bacterial rot is the reason my first tentative zinnia cutting experiments always failed. They acted exactly like zinnia cut flowers in a vase, in that the bacteria quickly attacked the stems and created a rotten stinking mess just like unprotected cut flowers do in a vase of untreated water.
The zinnia cuttings consist of soft tissue that, unprotected, is a haven for bacteria. I dip the entire cuttings in Physan 20 solution and swish them around, which washes off any aphids, dirt, or other little bugs that may be present. Don't leave the cuttings submerged in a bucket of Physan 20 for an extended period of time, because they can "drown". I learned that the hard way, by leaving some cuttings submerged overnight. They were all dead the next morning. Leaves have to "breathe".
Incidentally, I think that washing the cuttings in Physan removed any thrips that were present, because the cutting plants thrived for several months before the above-mentioned thrips outbreak occurred. I am pretty sure I brought the thrips indoors in zinnia seedheads that I harvested and set on shelves near where my cutting plants were growing. In the future I will know to "quarantine" the zinnia seedheads that I bring in from my zinnia patch.
I hesitate to treat the seedheads themselves with Physan 20, because it might trigger premature germination of the seeds. If I did treat the seedheads with Physan 20, I would need to quickly tear them apart, spread the seeds out on paper towels and dry them before a germination response occurred.
If you made interspecific crosses with morning glories, such as I. nil x I. indica and the resulting hybrids didn't produce viable seed, you could grow them from cuttings until you could figure out a way to defeat the sterility (colchicine, back crossing, etc.)
There is a possibility that by using the techniques of zygotic embryo culture you could even grow intergeneric hybrids, like the orchid breeders do. A lot of commercial orchid varieties are interspecific hybrids and even intergeneric hybrids. There is information on zygotic embryo culture in several tissue culture books. I can provide instructions for using Amazon's Search Inside feature to read samples of these references if you wish to pursue that approach. Obviously, neither of us is ready to spend $370 for a book. I have the "In Vitro Plant Breeding" book, but it is just introductory.
I think you might get some really interesting results by making some adventuresome morning glory crosses. The dwarf morning glories in Convolvulus (Convolvulacea) have three and even four colors in their blooms, including red, yellow, blue, and white. In vitro zygotic embryo culture could open up some exciting possibilities in morning glory breeding, by enabling the production of interspecific and intergeneric hybrids that otherwise would not grow from seeds.
And, although I am not a fan of plant patents, I think that asexual propagation methods could make the results eligible for plant patenting.
So far I have been keeping records of my maternal lines, and allowing somewhat unspecified variety in the male parents. The researchers at universities are doing a more careful job by recording both the male and female descriptions. I am proceeding in more of a "by guess and by golly" mode. But even the university researchers are still learning things about zinnia colors.
You are right, in that a variety of colored organic compounds participate in making up zinnia colors. Quoting from Dennis Stimart and Thomas Boyle in the Zinnia chapter on page 349 of Flower Breeding and Genetics, edited by Neil O. Anderson:
"Ligule color in Z. violacea is controlled by two major genes (Boyle and Stimart, 1988). Presence of the anthocyanidins pelargonidin and cyanidin is controlled by a single dominant gene (An1). Carotenoid expression is conditioned by a recessive gene (ca) governing its presence and other genes controlling the distribution of carotenoids in ligules [petals]. Thus, white ligules are devoid of anthocyanidins (an1 an1) and carotenoids (Ca_). Pollard (1939) identified seven additional genes affecting ligule color in Z. violacea; additional research is needed to elucidate the effects of these genes on pigment biosynthesis."
There is a lot to be learned about the genetics of zinnia color. Me, I am just kind of "winging it".
The dominent & recessive are intersting as in bearded iris it works the other way. the iris genes really surprised me as in cocker spaniels which we used to raise black was the dominent color. It goes to show that each time you start messing with a group of plants, be sure & find out about their heritage.
MM---We have been away for a weekend and I reread this thread since we returned. Not only are colors interesting, but size of plants. I have seen zinnias of different sizes at garden centers & wonder about their heritage. It is interesting that there are different terms for the forms while iris terms seem to emphasize different terms for color, amoena for white standards & colored falls, variegata for yellow standards & red falls for instance. DH and I work with the smaller irises, but the color terms are the same. Where do garden centers get their zinnia plants? Not from individual hybridizers of course. Are the seed companies doing their own work or buying from hybridizers? I will have to look at annual flats this spring & try to see if all produce about the same colors or New? colors are coming out.
"Where do garden centers get their zinnia plants?"
It varies, but some "big box" garden centers like Home Depot and Loews have contracts with commercial plant growers who bring plants in. Sometimes the arrangement is very similar to selling on consignment, in that the garden center doesn't pay for plants until they are sold. That's one of the reason why some of them are careless about watering the plants, because if they die, it is the plant grower who suffers. Some garden centers purchase their plants outright from the growers.
The growers buy their seeds from seed companies who cater to growers. Some seed companies have two divisions, one that sells retail to the public, and another that sells seeds "wholesale" to growers only. In many cases the growers have access to a wider variety of seeds than the home gardener. Parks, Johnny's, and Stokes have separate retail and commercial divisions. Ball owns Burpee and Burpee sells retail while Ball sells to plant growers.
"Are the seed companies doing their own work or buying from hybridizers?"
Seed companies used to grow their own seeds or subcontract their seed production. Burpee used to do quite a bit of original research, hybridization and breeding. Nowadays the seed companies mostly buy their seeds from various wholesale seed producers. There are many companies who specialize in research, hybridizing, and seed production, and they offer their products to seed companies who "trial" them and select products that they will offer in their catalogs. A lot of the seeds come from companies in Europe, South America, and Asia. In many cases the country of origin is listed on the seed packet.
"I will have to look at annual flats this spring & try to see if all produce about the same colors or New? colors are coming out."
Some of the zinnia mixtures have an incredible range of colors, with dozens of different shades of the basic colors and subtly differing pastels almost like the paint chips in the home stores or paint stores. Most of the zinnia colors have been around in one form or another for many decades. Some of the more popular zinnia strains are available in separate colors.
You get a wider selection of colors, flower forms, and plant habits in seed catalogs, simply because the growers are very "bottom line" orientated, and grow only those varieties that they think they can make a profit on. The growers supply separate colors for people who wish to plant landscaping beds with uniform colors within the individual beds, and for that reason the seed companies that sell to growers tend to offer more separate colors than the seed catalogs do to the retail market. Growers also tend to prefer shorter more compact plant habits that will stay tidy in their market paks and flats.
As an amateur zinnia breeder I can produce zinnias that wouldn't be feasible for the commercial seed growers to produce, simply because hand pollination isn't feasible for them and it is easy for me. And I don't have to worry about a "bottom line", because it is just a hobby for me.
P.S. This message thread has become essentially inactive because the Hybridizers thread that it requested has been granted. The new Hybridizers thread itself is a little slow at the moment, after the "new" wore off.
Carelessness in watering plants is not the only problem. I went to a garden center one fall and saw iris bareroot in a bin. I mentioned that those plants should be potted up to remain in good condition. I was told "that's how they came to us". Double Grrrrr! I notice that the Winterberry catalog gives instructions to wholesalers on how to pot plants.A great deal of garden center work is done in ignorance. If the plants die do they think customers will return? Thank you for the information on zinnia seed production. Hybridizing is a hobby with many of us. I would hate to not be able to go out into the iris patch & not see new arrivals. Lucy
Glad to join you all, I'm very new to crossing anything so I have a lot to learn. Especially the terms and how to's.. I've dabbled in hand pollination for a couple of years but only with passies, last year I tried several crosses with Morning Glories and hopefully something good will come of it..
I've got to go back read all the thread to catch up to you all.
Amazing how many plants we all try. Johnny JUmp Ups are related to Pansies & a friend like them with blue centers instead of yellow, so she pulled up the yellow and kept the blues & let them increase. To her friends it is known as her strain, even though she is no longer with us. Not exactly hybridizing, but fun.
I am doing the hybridizers run-a-round. I have all these little seedling daylilies I grew over the winter in the house and they are aching to get their feet in the mud. I am even planting them in pots. LOL!!
Here's a simple little planter box that I built to keep the critters, mostly squirrels out of my iris seed/seedlings. Thought it might be helpful for those with similar problems. As the plants grow, the pots can be buried in the sand bottom to provide more room for growth.
oh that is a idea... especially for seedlings, it won't work for the mgs, because they vine and tangle a lot, but certainly will work for other seedlings..
How long does it take for Iris seeds to germinate? I got a couple, but they haven't germinated, and now I can't find them at all. Maybe something ate them, now that I come to think of it.
I don't know if you can see it in this photo, but way at the end of this bed, there is a box made out of block and faced with flagstone about 10 7 ft long and 3 1/2 wide, it is supposed to be for shovels, tools, etc. but we have not put lids on it, so I am using it to house my tomato and mum seedlings for now to protect them against the wind and to acclimate them.
It looks like I posted the wrong photo, but it is at the end of that flower bed.. here is one from a few moments ago. I use the tarp when the winds are really strong, I think that the block and flagstone retain the heat during the day, and keep the plants warm at night.
With luck iris seeds will germinate the first yr. after planting. Some do so the 2nd yr. especially those with some species background. This protects them in the wild. Here in MA none of last yrs have germinated, but yours would be earlier. To keep track of them we plant them in the plastic boxes (flats) from garden centers. That way they don't get mixed with other crosses or other yrs planting. Lucy
7-8 months old seedlings grown by the window during winter time will all soon go outside and make the most of the limited 8 months outdoors growing season. Some of them are grown under lights but fresh air and natural sunlight is always best for them
Miniature varieties can bloom in 2-3 years if continously grown. The large flowered ones can be blooming in 3-4 years. It all depends on how you take care of them really. It is recommended that the seedlings be continously grown for at least 2 years. The winter dormancy does give a setback on the growth of the seedlings.
Nope none yet of my own hybrid. I just started my collection in 2006. Hopefully this year or maybe next year. My older seedlings, put to rest this winter for lack of indoor growing space, are just waking up.
Wow, It will be something when you get your first bloom.. man, I know exactly what you mean waiting for that first bloom.. I'm just now seeing some of the crosses I did last year, and it is not that long, that is what is nice about the mgs, you can plant more seeds as soon as they form and still get in another crop.
I'm not too excited about my oldest seedlings though. I was a newbie then and just self pollinated my Red Lion (common red). Actually I have been giving them away and just left 10 seedlings of that cross. As my collection grow and my knowledge/documentation of every variety in the collection, I have been improving my crosses. Being very particular with every single detail.
Here is a pic of my hippeastrum collection of named varieties (80 plus), Oct. 2007. I went overboard this fall/winter...lol! The collection is now more than 160 varieties.
I'm not too excited about my oldest seedlings though. I was a newbie then and just self pollinated my Red Lion (common red). Actually I have been giving them away and just left 10 seedlings of that cross. As my collection grow and my knowledge/documentation of every variety in the collection, I have been improving my crosses. Being very particular with every single detail. Hybridizing is a combination of science and art...Right?
Here is a pic of my hippeastrum collection of named varieties (80 plus), Oct. 2007. I went overboard this fall/winter...lol! The collection is now more than 160 varieties.
Wondering if anyone can help me? My mom has a beautiful hosta growing in her garden that is sprouting a big flower. Can I do something cool with it? Cross it with another? Collect seed? Its really pretty.
Hi all. This is my first look at this forum. I have done a little hybridizing with daylilies,azaleas, impatiens and echeveria.
What I would love to know is what is the name of that Elephant Ear in the first post in this thread. Anyone know?