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Hybridizers: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 4, 1 by RickCorey_WA

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In reply to: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 4

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RickCorey_WA wrote:
I'm at the "Amateur Hour" level of breeding Zinnia hybrids. I planted a varied bunch of varieties two years ago, and collected random-pollinated seeds. I re-planted them last year, and pulled out all but the orange and yellow ones halfway through the season. I was pleased that the colors didn't just become totally muddy. The pink-purple range seem to have blurred together, but my favorites, yellow and orange are coming through cleanly.

I am casually selecting for those two colors, and also seeing if I can pick out the reddest of the pink-pruple blooms, and get back to a redder, darker strain. Just curious.

Then will try to get orange and yellow in a more compact wrinkled bloom (like a thimble, or a small African Crackerjack Marigold form). Now they are all tall and very branched. I would like to get them less branching, so i can cut stems for a vase without wasting 2-4 buds for each bloom I cut.

The bloom forms now vary, but mostly pretty dense blooms, like thimbles, not like dust mops, like these:
'Aztec Sunset'
'Desert Sun'

This year I am collecting fairly-random-pollinated seeds, keeping seed from each seed mother separate. I'll have some clean seed for orange blooms, since two widely-separated beds each had just one Zinnia in it. Next year, mesh nets and expose only one plant at a time to pollinators. Thanks for the idea about mesh nets to keep bees out, not just for collecting seeds about to pop!

I'm mainly posting because I discovered (it was news to me) that I can harvest some seemingly-mature seeds from my cut-flower vases indoors. These pinkish-through-purplish blooms were cut and brought indoors while still fresh. Then they sat in water until they started to darken or droop. Then I dried them "just to see what would happen".

I'm getting 6-12 dark, well-formed seeds per bloom , despite their never fully ripening "on the vine"!
The mature seeds come from the outer rim of the bloom.

There's a lot of "silk" which seem to be very immature proto-seeds in the center of the bloom.

I got one interesting hybrid form that has not yet recurred, I guess it won't breed true (see photo).


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