One of my hobbies is breeding my own zinnias, and I find that it is a lot of fun for several reasons. Zinnia breeding goes much faster than breeding most other plants. Zinnias can bloom in 6 to 8 weeks from seed and the seed germinate in only a few days. They come in a wide variety of colors, flower forms, and plant habits. So there are an almost limitless number of interesting crosses that you can make with zinnias.
They are relatively easy to grow, they grow fast, and they are easy to cross-pollinate. In many places you can get two generations in one year, so you could make your crosses in the Spring, plant "green" seeds from them in the Summer, and see your hybrid blooms in the Fall, hybridize them as you see fit, and save seeds from them before Winter to continue the process the following Spring. Or, if you are impatient to continue without a delay, you could grow those hybrids-of-hybrids seeds indoors under lights or in a greenhouse.
When you are breeding your own zinnias, you can cater to your own personal preferences. I happen to like zinnias whose flowers are rather "open", with petals not packed too closely together. This is an example of a zinnia that I chose as a "breeder" for that reason:
There are actually two small insects "hiding" in this bloom. It is a hybrid between two hybrids and inherits extra good petal texture and substance from one grandparent. You have to actually feel the petals to fully appreciate this property.
Very interesting. I don't usually pay much attention to these. My mother grows them each year. Your hybrids are impressive. That is what it is all about making something new that you can enjoy. Are they true to seeds how do you keep from losing a cross?
"Are they true to seeds -- how do you keep from losing a cross?"
The hand-crossed hybrids do not come "true" from seeds, but instead a whole spectrum of variations appear as the hybridized genes recombine in many ways. However, you can "dehybridize" a hybrid by growing a lot of seed from it and by selecting only those recombinants that most resemble the parent hybrid. Many of our open pollinated varieties were produced by dehybridizing a hybrid.
It is not widely known, but you can grow cuttings from a zinnia. The cuttings come true, and they also give you a much larger supply of seed, which you can use to advantage in dehybridizing a chosen hybrid. The process of dehybridizing a hybrid is fun and rewarding, because in addition to the specimens that resemble your target, you also get a lot of new forms, including some that may actually be better than the chosen hybrid parent. That can give you the opportunity of creating several new cultivars from a single good cross. And, of course, there is nothing to keep you from making crosses between selected recombinants that can show up in the process of dehybridizing a hybrid.
This attached picture is a grouping of several zinnia plants that grew from cuttings from a single donor plant. I grew them last spring. It is a choice purple scabiosa flowered specimen. These plants matured to produce a "bumper crop" of seed that I can use to help stabilize a pure strain. It usually takes four or five generations of re-selection to get a reasonably uniform dehybridized strain. But since you can get more than one generation of zinnias in a year, the process can take less time than you might think. Dehybridizing does take some garden space, because it helps to grow several hundred plants to select from. I plan to use zinnia cuttings much more next year.
Interesting so once you breed it back you can produce a stable hybrid? Something very close to the species but not exact? I know of breeding back to produce plants that are 99% pure from back breeding. My questions are mainly to understand why all the breeding if your hybrids can easily be lost or revert back to species. This is unless you are keeping a lot of your plants growing during the winter to keep from freezing out.
I would be interested in seeing your spectrum of seedlings and hearing what combinations you think have been producing the best results. I have always breed what I considered the best forms in my breeding or for certain traits, but back breeding has always interested me. From what I understand it is the breeding back to the parents that can produce the polyploid forms and many of the odd and unusual traits. I am not sure what the % of breeding the hybrid progenies of the same crosses is yet.
This unusual petal texture you talk about on one of your hybrids may be a trait or polyploid. Just today I was at a super market and they had forsale Amaryllis plants in flower. One had a tripple bloom. I had never seen this before so I went to look at it and it was very amazing. It was a polyploid the petals were extremely thick almost like leather the sex organs were all mutated but still very stunning.
"...so once you breed it back you can produce a stable hybrid?"
Not exactly. Stabilizing a hybrid (dehybridizing it) involves primarily selfing the hybrid, and not back-crossing it to either parent. However, all is fair in hobby plant breeding, just like in love and war. But dehybridizing is primarily a forward breeding thing, of saving seeds each generation from the plants that most closely resemble the good hybrid that you are trying to stabilize. If, in a successive generation, you find that you have several different plants that are pretty close to the "target", then it might be helpful to intercross them. But in no case are you trying to get back to the original species of Zinnia violacea, which is a rather weedy looking single purple wildflower.
"My questions are mainly to understand why all the breeding if your hybrids can easily be lost or revert back to species."
The primary answer to "why all the breeding" is that it is fun. There is a certain enjoyable anticipation waiting for a bloom from any mixed packet of zinnias to open up, to see what the flower will look like. The suspense is even more enjoyable when the zinnias are from hybrid seeds of your own making. The hybrids aren't easily lost. In fact, all of the commercial zinnias are either stabilized dehybridized hybrids, field-mix bee pollinated zinnias, many of which are hybrids that even the bees don't know the parents of, or commercially produced F1 hybrids from known carefully inbred proprietary strains. I doubt that any of us have ever seen an original species Z. violacea (sometimes referred to as Z. elegans), and even if we did, we probably wouldn't recognize it as a zinnia. It is kind of an urban myth that hybrid zinnias "revert" to the wild species. What actually happens is a complex recombination of genes, so that the results are best thought of as recombinants. They aren't reverting, they are recombining characteristics.
I will discuss the subject of "ploidy" in another message. It is hard for me not to get "long winded" when discussing zinnias. I am attaching a picture of a bicolor zinnia selected from Veseys Zig Zag strain. I like bicolors, and many of my hybrids involve bicolors.
"Do you keep a record of all your crosses? Do you plan your crosses or are you just letting them be open pollinated?"
Yes, I do, in an approximate sort of way. I keep a garden journal, and record a lot of information in it. Each plant gets an identifying code. This year I designated my female "breeders" as B1, B2, B3, ... B70, B71, B72. Each code gets a brief description of the plant. There may be several male pollen donors, depending on my current breeding objectives and strategies. For example, one of my objectives is to get bicolored spider flowered zinnias. So bicolored breeders get pollinated with spider flowered zinnias or other good bicolors. Spider flowered zinnias get pollinated with bicolors. Sometimes, when it might not be "obvious", I make a note in the journal which male pollen donors were used. A female breeder can also be a pollen donor for one or more other female breeders.
"Do you plan your crosses or are you just letting them be open pollinated?"
I do plan my crosses and I prevent open pollination with the use of "hair nets", which I make from an open netting fabric that allows ready access to light and air flow, but blocks access to the flower by bees. Sometimes I will deliberately use a flower's pollen to self the flower when I think that is a good idea. The pollen donors also get protected by nets, because bees are greedy collectors of pollen.
"I have never tried to root a cutting of a zinna before. How do you do yours?"
The secret to rooting zinnia cuttings successfully is a product called Physan 20. http://www.physan.com/ The cuttings will usually rot from bacterial invasion without the Physan 20, because zinnia cuttings have soft tissue.
I also use a good rooting hormone like Dip 'n Grow, Hormex 3, or Rootone. All work well for me, although Hormex #1 is a bit weak, but Hormex #3 and Hormex #8 work fine. For treating a lot of cuttings at a time, Dip 'n Grow is a liquid that is convenient to dilute to the proper concentration. For treating just a few cuttings at a time, one of the dry powders is a bit more convenient. The diluted Dip 'n Grow should be used within 24 hours of dilution.
I use a sterile growing medium like Premier Pro Mix with added Perlite for better drainage. I root them under fluorescent lights. For the first week or so I keep the cuttings under a humidity dome. I usually use a 7-inch humidity dome for adequate clearance of the cuttings. After the roots begin to form, you can remove the humidity dome. I usually repot them for further growth into plants under the lights. I get close to a 100% success rate with my zinnia cuttings. If a cutting already has a bud on it, you should pinch off the bud. If it has leaves near the bottom of the stem, you should pull those leaves off.
I soak the cuttings for about 5 minutes in Physan 20, diluted 1½ teaspoon per gallon, to sterilize them. I water the rooting mix with a nutrient mix diluted ½ teaspoon of urea-free nutrients (I use Better-Gro Orchid Food from Lowes Home Store) per gallon and ¾ teaspoon Physan 20 per gallon. I usually prepare separate diluted solutions of nutrients and Physan 20 and then mix the two diluted solutions together. I saturate the rooting medium with that solution before inserting the cuttings. You usually don't have to add more solution until after you remove the humidity domes.
"Have a bunch of hybridized " surprise" zinnia seed that I plan on growing out this season."
Sounds like a plan. As they say on TV, "expect the unexpected".
As I said in the previous message, I like bicolored zinnia blooms. Most bicolors have a darker color at the base of the petal and a lighter color at the tip. But occasionally you can get the reverse situation, where the light color is at the base and the darker color is at the tip of the petal, like in this specimen.
"From what I understand it is the breeding back to the parents that can produce the polyploid forms and many of the odd and unusual traits."
I don't think that is true of zinnias. As far as I know, there are only two commercial tetraploid strains of Z. violacea, State Fair and Burpee Tetraploids. If you cross a tetraploid with a diploid, you get a triploid. As a rule, triploids are sterile, in that they can't set viable seed. There are a few annual flowers that are deliberate triploids, because their inability to set seeds means you don't need to deadhead them. And you can't save seed from them, either. For example, I think there are a few triploid marigolds. Seedless watermelons are triploids. I don't know of any triploid zinnias. I seriously considered producing triploid zinnias, but I reconsidered because I wouldn't be able to save seeds from them.
I also considered producing additional tetraploid zinnias. But, referring to the book, Flower Breeding and Genetics, http://www.amazon.com/Flower-Breeding-Genetics-Challenges-Opportunities/dp/1402065698/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1228350255&sr=1-1 in Chapter 12 titled ZINNIA by Dennis Stimart and Thomas Boyle, it says "Relative to diploids, tetraploid zinnias have larger flowers and thicker, stronger stems but also have poorer seed germination, less branching, delayed flowering, and fewer capitula [flowers]. I considered that the disadvantages of tetraploid zinnias outweighed the advantages for me, so I gave up the idea of breeding tetraploid zinnias. That's not to say that others wouldn't enjoy breeding tetraploid or triploid zinnias. Just not me.
On a somewhat different note, I have enjoyed crossing Scabiosa Flowered Zinnias with "regular" zinnias. The disk florets of scabiosa flowered zinnias are not the usual yellow, furry stars, but are like little florets with the same color as the petals. The hybrids of scabiosa flowered zinnias with conventional flowered zinnias can produce some interesting results. Like, for example, this specimen.
MM. Siting here with the biggestest smile on my face and a light shining from with in the eyes. What lovely crosses you have made. : )
Your little scabiosa pom pom look is adorable.
Love the joy of seeing what hybridizing results bring forth. As you have pointed out, workign with Zinnas you can see your results alot faster.
Just for the heck of it, have you thought about trying to cross some of the spoon mums with some of your more open formed zinnias? Sometimes when I get out there to try and hybridize, I try and push the envelope with mixing different pollens.
Thanks for the recommending physan 20. I have not used it before , but definately going to order some, it may help me also with some other soft tissued cuttings that don't like to root easily.
When I get my Zinna crop up and blooming this year, definately going to ask you for evalutation and some hybridizing suggestions. I love to dab. Just hate when I get up at 4 in the morning to try an dbeat the bees only to find out they have gotten up earlier than me.
Besides a bunch of unknown crosses and I have a bunch of State Fair Seeds, California Giants, the Magellan collection and some other commercial seed I bought but can't remmeber the names of off hand.
The problem I have with Zinnas here is mildew. During the hottest part of of our summer the temps can get over 113F and the humidty is unbearable. Trying to find disease resistant cultivars is very hard.
I am glad to hear of your smile. The zinnia hobby is always about having fun.
"The problem I have with Zinnas here is mildew. During the hottest part of of our summer the temps can get over 113F and the humidity is unbearable. Trying to find disease resistant cultivars is very hard."
The Profusions, Zaharas, and Pinwheels are probably the most disease resistant zinnia cultivars. Unfortunately they aren't attractive to me as hobby zinnias because they are all members of the new zinnia species, Z. marylandica and the Marylandicas have limitations in plant height, flower size, and flower colors. (Marylandicas do get improvements every year, because they are commercially successful.)
However, my favorite zinnias are all Z. violacea, also known as Z. elegans, and they are relatively susceptible to a number of foliage diseases, including powdery mildew. Ironically, powdery mildew is probably the easiest to control of the various zinnia ailments.
There are a lot of mis-perceptions about mildew on zinnias. A lot of zinnias actually have mildew because their gardeners have been told that water promotes mildew on zinnias. The truth is the exact opposite of that. Mildew spores cannot germinate in water, and wetting your zinnia leaves can be an effective mildew preventative. In support of that assertion, notice that, in this National Gardening Association Q&A: Powdery Mildew on Zinnias, http://www.arcamax.com/gardening/s-1960-227172 they say, and I quote:
"Powdery mildew is unique among common plant diseases in that it doesn't require a wet leaf surface to spread. It can thus thrive during hot, dry weather, which is why you see it appearing in August. The general advice to inhibit the spread of fungal diseases is to avoid wetting leaf surfaces. In the case of powdery mildew, you can actually inhibit infection with frequent sprays of water. Also, examine plants frequently, removing any affected foliage immediately."
Rose growers have a lot of disease problems, and many rose growers spray their roses a lot to keep them looking good and healthy. For me, my zinnias are my "roses" and I also lavish some attention on them, and spray them frequently, sometimes providing foliar nutrition, sometimes providing disease control, and sometimes combining both in the same spray. Incidentally, properly diluted, Physan 20 can be effective in a foliar spray. Not too surprisingly, I purchased my sprayer from a site that caters to rose growers. http://rosemania.com/shopsite_sc/store/html/index.html
"Just hate when I get up at 4 in the morning to try and beat the bees, only to find out they have gotten up earlier than me."
I had the same problem for years. I decided to make "hair nets" to keep the bees from robbing my prime pollen. The nets can also be used to keep bees from pollinating prime female blooms. I make the nets from inexpensive net fabric that I purchase in the Walmart fabric and sewing section. I imagine that other fabric stores would have similar materials. I chose a net fabric with an open weave to allow good air circulation and exposure to light, while keeping the bees at bay. I found that the color black made the nets less "visible" in the garden.
I make the nets using sharp scissors or a roller cutter to cut the fabric, black yarn as a joiner material, a big needle to "sew" with the yarn, and a big needle threader to make it easier to thread the big needle. I alternate the yarn from the front to the back about every ½" to ¾". It's not necessary to make the stitches very close together. I suppose if you had a serger handy you could also use that to sew the nets. I have a serger, but it takes me quite a while to thread the thing, so I just use the knitting needle. I can make several nets in an hour.
The attached picture shows my current favorite net design, although I have used other more elaborate designs and a simpler design. Some designs are easier to make and some are more resistant to being blown off of the bloom in a storm or high wind. A design based on a tetrahedron with seams open at one vertex was perhaps the best at hanging onto the blooms in storms, but was also more tedious to construct and to install on a zinnia bloom. After a storm, I pick up any blown-off nets and re-install them.
The nets are quite effective against honeybees, bumble bees, and carpenter bees, even though the bottom is "open". The bees are quite impatient and don't search the net for a way in. They simply fly off to the nearest unprotected bloom.
For the most part, butterflies are not deterred by the nets and use their long drinking tube to reach through the openings in the net to drink nectar from the disk florets. Hummingbirds also frequent my zinnia patch, but I haven't noticed yet whether they sip nectar through the nets. I don't consider butterflies or hummingbirds a serious problem in my zinnia breeding. I enjoy their presence. It is a little startling when a hummingbird flies right by my ear. The whirring noise is loud. I am present in my zinnia patch frequently enough that the hummingbirds have come to ignore me, and will feed quite near where I am working.
"Just for the heck of it, have you thought about trying to cross some of the spoon mums with some of your more open formed zinnias? Sometimes when I get out there to try and hybridize, I try and push the envelope with mixing different pollens."
Spoon mums look great and I would love to get that look in zinnias. Many years ago I tried repeatedly to cross zinnias with marigolds, with the objective of getting the wide color range of zinnias combined with the nice foliage of marigolds. Suffice it to say, that didn't work. Zinnias and marigolds are not closely enough related.
Zinnias and spoon mums are not closely enough related either. I wouldn't be able to consider such ambitious crosses until I learned the techniques of genetic engineering, I would have to learn a lot of new stuff before I could do that. It is tempting to dabble in gene transfers, because it would be possible to get blue zinnias that way. That would open up a whole new world of possibilities. Like glow-in-the-dark zinnias, in all colors. Add a few bird genes and the zinnias could sing. But geneticly modified organisms are controversial, and for good reason. Because there could be unintended consequences and hazards of unknown magnitude.
For the near term anyway, I will stick with pretending to be a big bee in my zinnia patch. However, there are some interspecies zinnia crosses that I want to try next year. And I wouldn't rule out a few tissue culture experiments with zinnias.
MM.. You've really got the cutting edge going on with your Zinnas. : )
The real problem I see with non relative crosses is how would you do an embryo rescue on the seeds? It easy to do with those seeds that make a seed pod and you can rescue the immature seeds before ten days is out and they usually start aborting, but can't figure out how in the world you could do it for zinna seed.
Are you working with all hubrids or do you have some species in their too.
Just thinking here. Depending on what genes you wanted to use. There some much DNA work that has been done on specific flowers now adays you might be able to do some research and find where somebody has already done the genetic coding for the part you want. Once you have it, you could probbably get somebody at one of the plant pathology labs to take that plant and code out just those genes to do the crosses with.
"The real problem I see with non relative crosses is how would you do an embryo rescue on the seeds?"
In order to save time, I don't wait for my hybrid zinnia seeds to mature in the Spring planting, and I harvest the seeds at an immature "green" stage and plant them. That can save several weeks and get the second generation off to an early start. However, planting green seeds isn't really embryo rescue, because in the case of embryo rescue, the embryos will not develop to maturity because of incompatibilities between the embryo and the "mother" plant.
None of the crosses I have done are "wide" enough to encounter embryo development problems. If I did encounter that situation, and I very well may encounter embryo development problems with some of my upcoming interspecific zinnia hybrids, then I would need to use tissue culture techniques to grow the embryos on a nutrient medium. I haven't done any tissue culture with zinnias yet, although I very well may try that in 2009. But harvesting the embryos could be done by cutting open the immature seeds in a sterile environment. I "help" some of my green seeds by cutting a slit in the green seed coat. That bypasses the wait for the still living seed coat to become water permeable by dying and, once again, saves a few days.
I am attaching a picture of some green zinnia seed that I grew this last Spring.
I grew some zinnias this year, but I was really too late getting the seeds in the ground. I spent too much time trying to get tomato and pepper seeds started. Next spring, I'll buy my tomato and pepper plants so I can get my zinnias in the ground on time. I did not attempt any crosses, but I did save the seeds from a number of them anyway. It will be interesting to find out if I have any accidental crosses in the bunch. I also ordered a lot of new seeds and have increased my zinnias growing area by about 300% over this year.
Maybe I'll have something worth seeing next year. LOL.
"Are you working with all hybrids, or do you have some species in there too?"
So far I have been using just commercial varieties of Z. violacea (also known as Z. elegans). Next year I plan to branch out to Z. haageana (Persian Carpets and Aztec Sunset), and Z. peruviana. The chromosome number is reported as 24 for all three species, which is necessary but possibly not sufficient for intercrossing compatibility. I am not depending on the interspecies hybrids for any quick payoff, and intend to continue my present hybrids between cultivars within Z. violacea.
"Just thinking here. Depending on what genes you wanted to use. There is so much DNA work that has been done on specific flowers nowadays you might be able to do some research and find where somebody has already done the genetic coding for the part you want. Once you have it, you could probably get somebody at one of the plant pathology labs to take that plant and code out just those genes to do the crosses with."
That approach is certainly worth considering. It is possible that within academia that some genetic engineering with zinnias has already been done. It probably would be possible to get the blue from, for example, Heavenly Blue morning glories, into zinnias, and those blue zinnias could be intercrossed with many existing zinnias to get many blue hues.
But there is a simple economic reason why we won't see those blue zinnias become commercially available. There is already a strong misdirected bias against any seed company that is even suspected of offering genetically modified organism (GMO) seeds. To my knowledge, no retail seed company offers GMO seed to home gardeners. But apparently many people believe otherwise. Most home garden seed companies have already been forced to publish statements that none of their seeds are genetically modified. Any retail seed company that offered blue zinnias would immediately be massively boycotted and their sales would plummet and force them into bankruptcy. The fear of "frankenseed" is widespread and deep. If blue zinnias are created, it most likely will be done by amateur hobbyists.
"I did not attempt any crosses, but I did save the seeds from a number of them anyway. It will be interesting to find out if I have any accidental crosses in the bunch. I also ordered a lot of new seeds and have increased my zinnias growing area by about 300% over this year. Maybe I'll have something worth seeing next year."
There is a very good chance of it. Zinnias are primarily bee-pollinated and bees do quite a bit of "accidental" cross pollinating. Plus, the seed you have purchased is also partly hybridized, thanks to those bees. And the more zinnia plants you grow, the better your chances are of getting an unusual new mutation. I like to quote those "reality" TV programs that say, "Expect the unexpected."
MM--does the Flower breeding book have any information on irises--if not it would be worth my while as that is what I work with. Interesting that you seem to have better luck with diploids as most modern bearded iris are tet. Still a great deal of work done with diploid in siberian iris; that is where many of the new colors come from. Does the commercial Burpee zinnia seed have different forms or are those seed packets the 'same old stuff'?
Thanks for the pic MM.. Am in the final days of finals so runnign behind . Then mites some how got in the fungal lab and started paratising all the fungal cultures and a wild fungi is dominating all the other fungi in the lab, and so somebody decided to clean and cleaned out our fungal cultures from the past thre emonths needed for final. been scramblign to try and get somethign rebuilt.
So glad you posted that pic. Now I know what to look for. Excellent photography shot.
I "help" some of my green seeds by cutting a slit in the green seed coat. That bypasses the wait for the still living seed coat to become water permeable by dying and, once again, saves a few days.
Is there a special section that you split that is better for the germination? Are you just lightly scoring? I always worry when trying to scarify tiny things. Always afraid of cuttign to deep and doing damage.
Hummmmmmm. ... gonna have to google later and check out these Persian Carpets and Aztec Sunset.
With flowers I am not so worried about the GMO as I am with the food. So speaks a person who is playign around with the OSU BLUE tomatoe seeds, but they are true GMOS like the ones being enginered in Austrailia.
Ther can be some problems with the GMO's that folks don't tak einto consideration. Can't think of the name of the plant now, but somebody crossed a blueberry with a snowberry. Both have their own differnt set of pests and pathogens and don't bother eahc other when the plants are grown individually, but the crossed plants are attacked by all the pest of both cultivars.
Have you grown Pink Stripe yet? Just wondred how striped and pretty it actually was in person. The catalogs all show such pretty colors. Some pics are pretty deceiving I have found out.
I didn't know about your situation with finals and the problems in the lab. As the British say, "hope you get it sorted."
"Is there a special section that you split that is better for the germination? Are you just lightly scoring? I always worry when trying to scarify tiny things. Always afraid of cutting too deep and doing damage."
The zinnia seeds I work with are fairly large, about ¼" to ⅜" long and ⅛" or a little more wide, so it's not too difficult working with them individually. I use a sharp X-Acto knife and a little cutting board and I have tried several different techniques. A good scalpel would probably be better. One scarifying technique is to simply slice off the central rib. Another is to slice off one or both edges of the seed, just missing the embryo. Another is to split the petal and pull the two petal pieces apart like a wishbone. This frequently exposes one half of the embryo. I have also removed the entire naked embryo and planted just that. I have gotten successful rapid germination with all of those techniques. "Practice makes perfect" and after some practice I can expose a zinnia embryo in less than a minute.
"Have you grown Pink Stripe yet?"
I have grown three of the striped zinnia cultivars, Candy Stripe,
and I experimented with crossing them with several other types of zinnias. They cross easily enough. You can get some really novel looking striped hybrids but, after getting over the novelty, I don't personally like the striped look, and I want to avoid "contaminating" my gene pool with the stripes. I am under the impression that striped tulips are caused by a virus infection, and although I don't think striped zinnias are caused by a virus, I think the stripes could become unwelcome in my zinnia breeding program.
That's not to say that others wouldn't enjoy crossing the stripes. A striped spider flowered zinnia or fantasy flowered zinnia would be a whole new look. But the stripes "just aren't for me." However, I do like bicolors and tricolors. I imagine you could get some really novel looking zinnias by crossing the stripes with the bicolors and tricolors. You could also cross different striped zinnias with each other and get some new looks. The improved Peppermint Sticks have a very wide range of color combinations and color patterns.
MM. Since you've gotten so good at it, ya want to scar all my zinna seeds for me???? ; ) You are so right, practice does make perfect, just hate to waste any seeds. Always worry for awhiel if the one that didn't grow or got destroyed was the one that would have me go Ahhhhhhh : ).
Now you have me very curious. yes, I know that the tulips are infected with the mosacic viruse, but nevr would have even comptiplated it possibly happenign with the zinnas. Gonna have to google later and see what if anythign turns up.
I am like you. I love the look of the tulips, but don't want to have my soil infected. Hard enough as it is trying to keep the soil free from pathogens and pests off the plants, sure don't need to introduce anythign new. Even though I am basically pot culture, still , you always worry.
One thing I was wondering if you had noticed this at all. Not sure if you make new crosses every year or make some of the same. If you make a cross say a x b and get a varitiy of F1 genernerations. Have you gone back say liek the following year and made the same cross and had roughly same amount of F1 generation that looks th esame, or do the genetics vary alot from year to year.
Also, do you happen to know that if you happen to buy say for example Pink Stripe from company a and some from company B of the same seed, are the seedlings all looking the same or are you finding variations in the same seed type from different companies.
I don't know if you hav thought about this or not, but since your so experienced with hybridizing Zinna. Maybe you might think about doing a sticky of the process and maybe doing a Dg article to introduce folks into the world of Zinna. Wih your experience and knowledge, it woudl be a great article.
Broken color irises are a genetic trait (transpondons sp?) like the yellow & white kernal sweet corn. It seems quite possible that the striped zinnias are them same--no relation to the tulip virus.There should be some literature on the pattern in zinnias. But if your personal preference is for other patterns so be it. I am not a great fan of the iris broken colors, but theycan work well in a garden scheme.
"It seems quite possible that the striped zinnias are them same--no relation to the tulip virus."
I agree. Striped, speckled, or spotted zinnias are not caused by a virus. To me, that appearance is not very desirable or attractive. The patterns can be appreciated up close, but in a landscaping context, they just make the colors look a bit "impure". But that is just my subjective view, and others may just love those color patterns.
"There should be some literature on the pattern in zinnias."
There is. The condition is referred to as an "incidence of unstable alleles conditioning petal pigmentation". I am already a little skittish about alleles being unstable. I, and others, have already had experiences with zinnias seeming not to be genetically uniform from one part of the plant to another.
That is worrisome, because if I take several cuttings from the same zinnia plant, I would like to think that all of those cuttings will develop into genetically identical plants. It is worrisome if they don't. I would like my alleles to be stable, and if they aren't, that could cause problems. Apparently zinnia alleles can be unstable. That is not to my liking. Maybe, subconsciously, that is one reason like why I don't like the striped, speckled, and spotted patterns on the Peppermint Stick zinnia cultivar, and others similar to it. For more information, see pages 296 through 308 in Biotechnology in Agriculture and Forestry 40, subtitled High-Tech and Micropropogation VI, edited by Y.P.S. Bajaj.
You might want to use the Amazon "Look Inside" feature, because the price of $470 for that book is a little stiff. With a little "gamesmanship" you can use the Look Inside feature to read pretty much anything in the book.
This subject area has been discussed by a number of people, including myself, in the "It Can be Fun to Breed Your Own Zinnias" multi-part message threads in the Annuals forum of the GardenWeb. Other people, as well as myself, have observed instances in which zinnias did seem to exhibit different genetics (or maybe it is unstable alleles) from one branch of the zinnia plant to another. It is still an open question for me. I don't know the answer. I suppose there could be cases in which the non-uniform genetics could be advantageous to the zinnia hobbyist.
There is a lot more information on this in the GardenWeb message threads. It wouldn't be "proper" for me to link directly to there from here, but you should be able to browse to GardenWeb.com and find the Annuals forum and those message threads.
Will look at gardenweb. Individual plants for flower arranging & the landscape are different. I agree that having an unstable gene can cause breeding problems. I don't admire iris 'broken color' in the smaller irises (like miniature tall) but really don't care for it in the tall bearded. When you are trying for certain colors or forms it is annoying to have something else appearing.
"...just hate to waste any seeds. Always worry for a while if the one that didn't grow or got destroyed was the one that would have me go Ahhhhhhh : )."
Me too. I always think about what all of those "virtual zinnia plants" might have turned into, or might still turn into. The seeds I didn't save, the seeds I didn't plant, the crosses I didn't make, the seeds that are still in my seed drawer. On occasion, I have dropped a hybrid zinnia seed on the floor and spent several minutes finding it, just to make sure it became a "real plant" and not a "virtual plant".
"Yes, I know that the tulips are infected with the mosaic virus, but never would have even contemplated it possibly happening with the zinnias. Gonna have to google later and see what if anything turns up."
Googling is always good. But see my remarks above to Lucy on this subject.
"One thing I was wondering if you had noticed this at all. Not sure if you make new crosses every year or make some of the same. If you make a cross say a x b and get a variety of F1 generations. Have you gone back say like the following year and made the same cross and had roughly same amount of F1 generation that looks the same, or do the genetics vary a lot from year to year?"
A good question. I do both, namely make new crosses each year and repeat old crosses, sometimes using the same seed stock for the parents. Nearly all zinnias have some inherent genetic variation, so repeating the same cross will give some variation, but not a lot. Just enough variation to keep it interesting. I grow multi-colors like Whirligig, Carrousel, and Zig Zag each year from seed packets, and cross them with cactus hybrid types like Burpee Hybrids and Burpee Burpeeana Giants, and I get a variety of F1 hybrids, some of which I like a lot. I also continue to cross seed packet scabiosa flowered zinnias with other zinnias and frequently get F1 hybrids that I like. But I also continue to make new crosses between my new hybrids as "the spirit moves me." That results in a lot of genetic recombination and some new forms altogether. On average, about 95% of the recombinants are disappointing and candidates for the compost pile, but the remaining 5% can have some interesting new specimens.
"Also, do you happen to know that if you happen to buy say, for example Pink Stripe, from company A and some from company B of the same seed, are the seedlings all looking the same or are you finding variations in the same seed type from different companies."
Another good question. I do find differences in zinnias grown in different seed fields, even when the variety name is the same. That is why I purchase seeds of the same variety from different seed companies.
"I don't know if you have thought about this or not, but since your so experienced with hybridizing Zinnias. Maybe you might think about doing a sticky of the process and maybe doing a Dg article to introduce folks into the world of Zinnias. With your experience and knowledge, it would be a great article."
Thanks for the vote of confidence. But I am not the only zinnia hobbyist out there and I think that an article by a single author can be a little "one-dimensional". I really prefer an interactive environment, like here and in the GardenWeb forums that I mentioned above to Lucy. That way, everyone can contribute, we can give each other "peer reviews", and we get a more "rounded out" body of knowledge. I did write a couple of "Zany Zinnias" message threads in the Annuals forum here in Dave's Garden, but that forum is restricted to paying members of Dave's Garden, while this Hybridizing forum is open to all.
MM checked part 8 of zinnia in G web. I really wanted to make sure that other people realized that the unusual streaked colors of plants were probably genetic & not virus. I got a laugh on sizes--would probably prefer the thumbelina type plants, notable for someone who like median iris & small hosta. Do like 'giant' snowdrops.
I personally always enjoy foliage your wavy leaf form looks very interesting. If you were able to produce a lot of foliage on that plant with a nice flower it should be a great plant possibly a whole group of hybrids could be produced. I often look for such odd traits and if breed back and forth it can be extremely exagerated in the hybrids.
F2's are recombinants and frequently don't "recombine" in a way that you would want them to. This hybrid between hybrids shows characteristics of all four grandparents, but not necessarily in a way that I wanted. A scabiosa grandparent or two has a recognizable influence, and the long guard petals come from a Burpeeana and cactus flowered grandparents, but the overall effect was a bit of a disappointment.
"Explaining carefully to the seeds which traits that you want doesn't seem to work."
You can say that again. This is another recombinant that didn't recombine right. A bicolor from a Whirligig grandparent is evident, and toothy petals from another grandparent are present. A scabiosa grandparent only partially transmitted colored florets. Like many recombinants, this one was a candidate for the compost pile. But recombinants are interesting, because they are frequently "different".
This F2 was a self from an F1 hybrid between a scabiosa flowered zinnia and a Whirligig. The F1 looked promising. But the "scabi" somehow really messed up the flower form of the "whirli" in the F2 recombination. I guess those single petals are guard petals from the scabi. And the colored florets didn't get into the combination.
MM.. How many genrations will you carry a cross out too. I know hybridizers of plants wil go as far as 6 or 7 generations. it gets intrestign them what some produce and a few have had their plants registered from those long haul generations.
Aggggggg. noooooo not the compost pile! LOL I know it a necessary evil, but sure do hate the words compost pile. One person's compost is a joy to others. I have some folk's composters out in my yard. I enjoy looking at them and they fun to play with for breeding as ya nevr know what might pop somewhere a long the line.
"I know it a necessary evil, but sure do hate the words compost pile. One person's compost is a joy to others."
At least 95% of my recombinants go to the compost pile. I need to do that, because my growing space is always limited, so I plant my zinnias closer than they should be and cull them against high standards at first bloom. That makes more growing space, sun, and soil available for the remaining chosen specimens, and gives me some room to transplant out some additional plants.
I concede that ornamental plant breeding is a very subjective activity, but I select stringently according to my own breeding goals, which are fairly ambitious. At one time I considered developing some single "daisy flowered" zinnia strains, because singles do show up fairly frequently in the recombinants. And some of them look pretty good. But I reconsidered, because I prefer zinnias that are at least reasonably double.
I liked your violet with white petal tips in your earlier picture. I can see that your last one is more restrained that Zowie. If we all like the same thing there would be no use in plant breeding. When arranging flowers for church, I hate it when too much pollen from lilies gets all over your clothes. For a breeder, pollen can be good because there my be enough to go around for all the projects. I work with the shorter irises--I think thumbelina zinnia are pretty but I bet there are not as many color variations as yet.
MM.. very pretty. me too, unless ya need th epollen for breeding, it pain. I just got the new Park's seed catalog and see they have the new seed for the Knee High red and Knee High white. Think they took the Zinnias as small as they could, and now have no where to go up.
Thre supposed to be two feet high witha foot width and supper resistant to disease and heat it says with stems strogn enough for cutting. I gott aget some, just cuz I have to see if what they say is true. I like the look of the doubles in the profusion. Maybe somebody wil come up with a double in the knee highs.
The Profusions, the new "double" Profusions, and the "Knee High" Profusions are all cultivars of the new species, Z. marylandica. I don't think they are compatible in crossing with the Z. violacea that I am working with. I guess I might experiment with a Marylandica x Violacea cross, but even if it "took", the resulting interspecies hybrid would probably be sterile, due, among other things, to the big difference in chromosome number between the species.
This pink and white bicolor was visited by a fly. I am pretty sure it wasn't an ordinary housefly, but there are many species of flies and I am no expert on them. It is possible that it was a beneficial fly.
This one also has white picotee tips. I kept a couple of dozen picotee bicolors and tricolors as breeders. Never mind that several hundred picotees went to the compost pile for a variety of features that I perceived as flaws. The picotee pictured on December 13, 2008 5:19 PM was rejected primarily because it was "single". I hope to see a lot of good new bicolors and tricolors in the coming year.
"Foliage is looking very clean--are there troubles with foliage?"
Zinnias are subject to a number of foliage diseases, particularly when they are grown in a "plant and forget" mode. Since I am a zinnia hobbyist, I do attempt to grow healthy zinnias. I touched on that in my message to StarLight in my message above dated December 4, 2008 2:04 PM. I haven't experimented with Messenger yet, but I do try to maintain near optimal nutrition via foliar feeding and preventative and curative spraying. Pale colored zinnia foliage is usually a sign of poor nutrition, and that includes not just nitrogen, but trace elements like iron, manganese, magnesium. Complete soluble nutrient formulas usually include the trace elements for that reason.
There are several safe sprays that are effective against zinnia foliage diseases. And, luckily, foliar feeding can also help prevent foliage diseases. I purchased a few pounds of monopotassium phosphate because, not only does it supply useful nutrients in a foliar spray, but it is also preventative for several foliage diseases. I also use GreenCure and Physan 20. And, yes, I still get some foliage problems, particularly in the Fall. Messenger and ProTeKt (potassium silicate) are a couple of things I plan to experiment with next year.
I did aresearch project using alot of the different products out on the market to see which ones really worked and which ones were ssnake oil. I had about 300 differnt plants in the research study and Zinnias were in the group.
personally, I wouldn't waste my money on Messenger. Now the products that performed fantastic and produced larger healthier plants was Root Shield and Plant Shield. I plan on using Root Sheild especially to grow this years crops of Zinnias out.
One of the good things about Root Shield was that even in some of the worst, poorest garden and field soil, germination of seeds was higher and so was plant dry weight when the plants were harvest and weighed for exact mass differences.
Too late. I bought some Messenger a couple of months ago, so I already have it on hand. So I will experiment with it. But thanks for your input. And thanks for the suggestion about Root Shield and Plant Shield. I will Google to find out more about them and to find sources where I can purchase some. I will be growing a few zinnia plants indoors this Winter, and I have a few hybrid seedlings emerging now. I might use some of them for experiments. I am always looking for better ways to grow zinnias, indoors or out.
"One of the good things about Root Shield was that even in some of the worst, poorest garden and field soil, germination of seeds was higher and so was plant dry weight when the plants were harvest and weighed for exact mass differences."
I don't use soil for my indoor growing, but this coming Spring I will be transplanting a lot seedlings that were started early indoors in sterile soil-less media out into the garden soil. We recently moved from Maine to Kansas (guess I should change my forum name) and the soil here in eastern Kansas is a lot different from the soil we had in Maine. Our local soil is dark, clay-like, and very gummy when wet. It is similar to a soil that was referred to locally as "black gumbo" when we lived and gardened in Fort Worth, Texas. Black gumbo was a real problem and it needed extensive amendment to make it useful for gardening. Black gumbo made me want some garden boots with Teflon soles, but I never found any.
We are currently renting here in Kansas, so we won't be investing a lot in soil amendments. But I probably will get a load or two of sand to help reduce the stickiness of this soil. As it is now, I will have to leave my garden boots on the front porch to keep from tracking mud into the house. I definitely will consider using Root Shield and Plant Shield in this soil.
Out of curiosity, was your research project a funded project, or was it something that you carried out on your own? I am getting the impression that you are not the ordinary "garden variety" of gardener.
MM... I am a mess. LOL I have a degree in hort , green house and nursery management and productionand my minor is plant pathology . I grow for a living and for fun and th epure joy of gardening. Lot different tryign to grow in the groudn than in a gh. I did alot research projects for my directed studies and worked on the trial gardens and most classes all had research projects. Did the messenger and other grow enhancing products when messenger first came out and wanted to find out if it was as good as they said.
I dabble in alot of things. I am very a very curious person. Want to know why things do what they do in th eplant world and always thinking out side the box to try and improve on them if I can. School is a tool and a source of learning, but it doesn't compare to when ya have to get out there and actually have to try and grow the stuff yourself. Then reality sets in and then you need to pick the brains of all the folks with experience you can. After all they been there and done that.
Misktakes cost money. yes, you learn, but when thinsg are expensive and supplies limited, I have learne d that whiel I may experiment on alot fo thigs, I like to learn what I can . I hate havign to bury a seedling.
I took an advanced virolgy class and that was how I found out about the root and the plant shield. Then I had to find out if it was for real or not and did oen of my class rsearch projects on it.
I did find that it works better if you make a liquid btach of it up and use it as a drench on the seeds before planting. Mixed the power up with warm water. stirre dit good and took the seeds and placed them in a coffee filter and soake dthem in the shield mix for five minutes then planted. Did it that way, because their in every soil everywheres always diseases in the ground . There is no way your gonna get rid of them all. Aslo alot of seed are infected with fungi and bacteria even before they hit the ground and this stuff helps kill it off before the radical emerges and the plants are infected.
There lots of places that sell it. It is expensive, but it goes along way.
Kansas. You do have lot sof icky clay. Have a good friend that has gardens in Kansas. Amazed that she able to grow and still keep the blooms on her plants even with 60 mile an hour winds always blowign them around. I have the red hard clay and also sand. The groudn here the pits and so acidic that as fast as you try and fertilize the plants hungry for more. It a major challenge to try and grow here. I miss the nice rich sandy loam soil of Ohio.
I am a plant nut big time. If I don't have it I want it. If it says it can't be grown here, I gonna spend years trying to make it do it. I love hybridizing and I love watching seed sprouts. I am a big seed-a-holic. I not happy unless I playign with seeds and busy trying to grow something.
Thanks for the implied compliment. I confess that when I chose the MaineMan moniker in Maine that I was aware of the possible double meaning. But since I can no longer hide behind the Maine residency, I think it would be a little egotistical to be the MainMan here in this forum. I am not really the "main man", except in my own household.
I changed from MaineMan to ZenMan in the GardenWeb forums, but I learned that the name ZenMan is already in use here in Dave's Garden. I am still considering a new name here. I considered KanMan, but am not too wild about it. ZinMan sounds a little like TinMan, but I haven't totally ruled it out. However, zinnias are not my only interest. I am not wild about using numbers in a name, but ZenMan2 is a possibility. It sounds a bit like "zinnia" and I get a Zen like enjoyment from being around growing things and living things, so maybe I will become ZenMan2. I did like the idea of having the same name in both GardenWeb and here, and ZenMan2 comes rather close to that. But maybe something completely different will occur to me "out of the blue", so I will stay undecided for awhile. It's actually not a very important matter. If I had a cape and could fly, I could be SuperMan, only, chuckle, that name has also been taken here.
I chose irisMA because we grow irises & live in MA. I don't think we will move but their are certainly other iris growers in the state, many of them our friends. Certainly you are the main zinnia person here & give very interesting information. tough about the soil change.
MM. I the same as everybody else on Dg. Helping where i can and aking and learning right along with everybody else. You the Zinia expert and so I gonan be pickign yoru brain adn sharign my triumps and failures this year with you if ya don't mind.
We all have strengths and weakness and I love Dg cuz you can ask anything abotu any question and somebody will step up and lend a helping hand.
I just picked up the brug bug and now havign to try and learn to grow them. I just a play in the dirt girl. LOL
I will stick to breeding irises & learning about their genetics & problems, which doesn't mean I don't enjoy information on other flowers. Growing conditions are important so I am in several 'robins' letter exchanges, 2 of them international.
This was a late season toothy specimen that has a light frosting of white near some of the petal tips. I used it as a breeder with the hope that its progeny might have more "toothiness" and a bit more white on the tips.
Sitting here going oh! Oh! Oh! in a good way. I love em both and really love the form on the first one. Woudl love to have a small area filled with a mass of that one. Reminds me of the petals on a carnation or a large dianthus. I love carnations and tryign to see if I grow some of them. Thay another flower they say can't grow here.
Carnations and Dianthus are very closely related and they do prefer cooler growing conditions. They probably could be crossed with each other. I considered the Dianthus species as a candidate for hobby breeding, but couldn't find enough genetic material with yellow and orange colorations. With the right timing and variety selection, you should be able to grow Dianthus. They have some striking color patterns and plant habits. And their foliage seems to be resistant to problems.
Grin. I strongly suspect that you couldn't get a yellow/orange/light purple color combination, like in this Zig Zag zinnia, in a carnation or dianthus.
Your so bad... ; ) Putting all them teasers up there. LOL That ok, I am loving looking at them can't wait to get some of my seed going. I just hope when I do get mine growing I cna at least get one that looks as good as yours.
You need to take that one and sell if for a fortune to Ball seed company. That one belongs in everybodys garden.
I up to my eyeballs in hostign the piggy swap for folks an dstorm surviors, but when I get to the part of the fridge that has dianthus seed, will let ya know what kinds I have. Maybe one fo them will be something that will tickle your fancy to grow and work with.
"...but when I get to the part of the fridge that has dianthus seed, will let ya know what kinds I have. Maybe one of them will be something that will tickle your fancy to grow and work with."
I might have some suggestions for you to grow and possibly to cross pollinate, but I don't really have room here to diversify in my plant breeding. Zinnias will pretty much take up most of my growing space. I plan to grow a few tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants next year, but only a very few, and they will be part of a modest "Victory Garden". These economic times are so bad that Victory Gardens are coming back, and it will even be acceptable to grow veggies in your front yard.
I guess it will be a bit "topsy turvy" to have veggies in the front yard and flowers in the back yard, but my zinnia breeding can involve some things that aren't exactly ornamental. For example, to protect my chosen breeders, I enclose them in strong half-height tomato cages. I refer to these as zinnia cages. I am attaching a picture of a zinnia cage. Caged zinnias would look a bit odd in the front yard. And, as I mentioned in a message somewhere above, I also install "hair nets" on my breeder blooms. Hence the topsy turvy veggies in front and flowers in back.
I hope you all enjoyed the holidays. I certainly did. The attached picture was one of my chosen "breeders" last year because it had almost no pollen, had a good plant form, and looked good. It was a Burpeeana Giant and it had a rich yellow color and good petal texture and substance. I hope that the little fly was of a beneficial kind.
Wow those are just great, I never thought about someone doing this I guess I though Zinna's just "Happened"...LOL
You really have some beauties there and I wish you luck on getting more going. I will plant some again this year they are just so colorful and make such good cut flowers that last and last...
Best to ya
Even though I work with iris, I enjoy the zinnia information. I don't always see it as I am having computer trouble & it is , with luck, being worked on. Burpee catalog just came--any information on the green ones?
Another gorgeous beauty. I got abotu another week only hopefully adn will have the Piggy swap all doen and shipped out and then gonna strain yoru brain. Been findign my Zinna seeds as I been goign through lookign for seed for the swap and survior victims. Then you can tell me about all the ones I have if ya dont mind and their forms and stuff and what would be good to try andbreed with.
I sure glad ya poste dthat pic today. I needed to see somethign beautiful and upliftign today being burie din seed and that sure did it. Thank you. : )
"Burpee catalog just came--any information on the green ones?"
I haven't done any crosses with the green zinnias yet. I plan to experiment with green crosses this year. I want to see what green looks like crossed with every other zinnia color. I had a packet of Burpee's Tequila Lime from last year that I never planted, so I planted 8 seeds from it indoors this evening. That should give me at least one decent specimen to experiment with before the Spring plant-out.
I notice that Johnny's Queen Red Lime zinnia is backordered.
As we reach the 100-message mark here in this message thread, it is probably becoming unwieldy for some users with slower Internet connections, particularly those with dial-up connections. So I am opening a Part 2 to this message thread, which you can access at this link: http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/940238/
It would be preferable to leave your new messages in the new thread, although this original thread should remain accessible, if slow to access.