I see a lot of people trading seeds or selling seeds that will never become what they claim. They mean well, they donít want to sell or trade bad seeds, but they have misunderstood the world of seeds.
Seeds are a wonderful world all their own and they need to be taken for what they are---packages. Yep, they are wonderful packages and what you got the seeds from will make a difference in what you are going to get. There is nothing worse than planting those “have to get them” seeds, babying the plants, and waiting for the bloom, only to have them bloom the wrong color, wrong shape, or in the wrong form.
The first group of seeds is those that will come true from seed. I know this sounds so simple but not every seed will come true from seed. Only plants that are species plants will come true from seed. The best way to think about this is, and there are exceptions all over the place mind you, if the name can be found in PlantFiles all in Latin then it will most likely come true from seed. Trees are notorious for not following this with many types of species breeding together to make new varieties. Truth be told, all the hybrids we have today do not come true from seed.They all come from mixing, back in the past, two plants that normally do grow true from seed.
The second group of plants are the named varieties of plants and some mixes of species. These will never come true from seed. You can plant two daylilies together and cross them together and they will never ever come true from seed. Often these plants come with a high price tag at first, and so people often look for seeds to make the pain of the price a little less. I learned the hard way when I longed for a particular daylily.I have a wonderful friend who let me in on the secret that the seeds for the daylily I was looking at would never produce the same daylily as the parent I got the seed from. Yes, the mother of those seeds might be the plant I wanted but the father was who knows what and the seeds would produce flowers that would look maybe like their parents and maybe nothing like them at all.
The lesson to learn is that all gardening is an adventure. It just depends on how big of an adventure you are willing to take when deciding what seeds to buy. For those “have to have” plants you want to have in the garden, it is always best to buy the plants. I know this costs more, but you know for sure the plant you have drooled over and feel in love with will be the plant you are getting. For those of us who are more into the garden for the garden’s sake, and love the new, and the hunt for a great new plant, seed are the way to go. In any case, there are some seeds that will always come back true to self and these are the plants you can find in seed packets in most of the good garden catalogs. Just be careful what you are getting when it comes to seeds and you should be fine. If you know ahead of time that the seeds will be true from seed or if you are starting a new adventure, you will be ready to plant the new wonders you have grown in your garden.
About Mitch Fitzgerald
I am a pentecostal preacher, gardener,husband, and a father. I love natives, daylilies, iris, and roses. I love teaching others, be they children or adults, about the garden and plants.