zinnia problem

Orofino, ID(Zone 6a)

Please give me some advice on this zinnia....why did it form it's head this way...no petals, just this fuzz...thank you

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Orofino, ID(Zone 6a)

another view

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Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

Deb,

I have to admit, I have never seen a zinnia just like that. There are actually two unusual blooms in your first picture. There is a second younger petal-less bloom in the lower left portion of the picture. I suspect that they are on the same plant. My guess is that your other orange zinnias in those pictures are Magellan Orange

http://www.harrisseeds.com/storefront/p-2962-zinnia-magellan-orange.aspx

which are a commercial F1 hybrid zinnia. Commercial F1 hybrid zinnia seeds are produced by planting alternate rows of a carefully inbred male pollen donor strain of zinnias and rows of special apetalous (without petals) male-sterile (femina) zinnias. Since the femina zinnias don't produce pollen, they can only be pollinated by the inbred male strain, so bees can do the actual pollinating, thus avoiding human labor to produce the F1 hybrid zinnia seed.

My guess is that one of the feminas used to produce your Orange Magellans did somehow self-pollinate itself, and your odd zinnia is an apetalous result of that. If you save seed from commercial F1 hybrid zinnias, you have a chance of seeing some femina-like offspring.

I am attaching a picture of an odd two-headed zinnia that is currently blooming in my zinnia garden. It is on a plant with "normal" marigold flowered zinnias. I will be saving seeds from it, but I don't expect them to produce two-headed zinnias. But I might be surprised. Zinnias frequently surprise me. I breed them as a hobby and I enjoy their surprises.

ZM

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Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

Deb,

This is a picture of some of the "normal" marigold flowered zinnia blooms that are on the same plant as the two-headed one pictured above.

ZM

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Silver Spring, MD(Zone 6b)

Boy, those orange zinnias will blend right in at Halloween if the frost doesn't kill them before. That's what you call Shocking orange! I don't like the color orange but those are very pretty. Looks like they are real tall.

Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

Pippi,

It is pretty certain that my zinnias won't make it to Halloween. I expect a killing frost before that. Orange isn't my favorite color, although I don't know if I have a favorite color. Maybe it is blue. Too bad there aren't any blue zinnias. This is a recent picture of another of my favorite zinnia plants, and it, too, has orange flowers. The plant itself is what is special about this zinnia. The plant is kind of irregular in shape, but, depending on how you measure it, it is up to 5 feet wide. The plant is essentially a shrub. I am using it as a "breeder" plant for that reason, meaning that I will be saving seed from it and crossing other favorite zinnias onto it. For me, plant form is nearly as important as flower form. I am hoping to get some more plants like it next year. And, maybe, some even better plants.

ZM

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Orofino, ID(Zone 6a)

Thank you so much for your guidance....there were numerous blossoms in her zinna row on the edge of her garden that showed this type blossoms.....the two headed zinnia is a hoot! I think my garden club ladies would've really gotten a kick out of finding one like that....

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Orofino, ID(Zone 6a)

another plant

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Orofino, ID(Zone 6a)

In this photo you can see where this row is located in the garden.....could there be any cross pollination with something else to cause this??? Deb

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Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

Deb,

"...could there be any cross pollination with something else to cause this??? "

I don't think so. I see that zinnias other than orange are involved. My guess would be that the odd zinnias are feminas that were mentioned above. What was the seed source for these zinnias? I would expect results like that if seed were saved from commercial F1 hybrid zinnias.

Since I breed zinnias as a hobby, I get a lot of off-type zinnias that I cull out at first bloom. Those feminas in your pictures could be removed without harm to neighboring zinnias by snipping them off at ground level. I do that with zinnias that I am discarding that are growing so close to other zinnias that simply pulling them up might damage the root systems of neighboring zinnias. That looks like good corn in that last picture.

ZM

Lake Toxaway, NC(Zone 7a)

it is probably just a mutant. However, if you save seed and don't get anymore like it, you should save the seed from that generation and sow again. Then you may get some. Continue saving seed from this line of zinnias and after a few years the gene will become dominant and give you about 75% of the mutant.
This is our mutant here, now spreading to other counties and also found in Ohio.

This message was edited Oct 9, 2011 12:19 PM

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Orofino, ID(Zone 6a)

thanks again for your help...I have forwarded your responses to our garden club so we all share the info.,...that little white guy is cute as can be...

Baytown, TX(Zone 9a)

I have about 12 or 13 gallon sized freezer bags of a mixture of asters, zinnias, and batchelor buttons. Every color of the rainbow and some with double heads. If you live north of Texas you can put them in the freezer and save them for next spring, or if you are like me here in Houston I let them reseed themselves and help a little with some of the dried flower heads just rubbed between my palms and viola! beautiful flowers almost year round. I also have a lot of 4 o'clock seeds. Make me an offer I can't refuse! ha

Orofino, ID(Zone 6a)

are you being serious? I don't have anything to trade but poppies mixture & single Holllyhock mixture of black, yellow & some very gorgeous pink with a ragged edge.....I would gladly pay you for postage or whatever you would require for a couple of bags??? Gosh, what else do I have that you could use? do you collect anything in particular? Wow, you have me yearning now! I absolutely adore Batchelor Buttons & Zinnia's......I have bunches of Babington Leek bulbs....Deb

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

Someone gave me a link to your thread. I had my own femina zinnia this year, the entire plant like this.

Should I save this plant? Anyone want it? :D

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Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

Hi, Amanda,

Femina zinnias are the mother of all commercial F1 zinnias, so if you want them you can simply do the "forbidden" thing of saving seeds from commercial F1 hybrid zinnias. A fraction of those saved seeds can produce feminas, as well as a variety of other zinnias, somewhat related to your original F1 hybrid zinnias.

Feminas are obviously not very desirable themselves, unless you want to create your own F1 hybrid seeds. Any seeds that you save from your femina zinnia will be F1 hybrids, except unless you pollinated them yourself, they will have been pollinated by bees and you will have no idea where the bees got their pollen. The seed yield on your feminas may be low, unless you or your neighbors had a lot of "regular" zinnias around. You might want to save seeds from your femina to get a surprising "grab bag" of F1 hybrid zinnias next year.

This year I had a mutant zinnia that had tubular petals ending in a 5-pointed star. The tips of the star prongs were brownish, although not so on the newly forming buds. It looked kind of ugly, but it did have petals with a unique shape for zinnias. I crossed it (I designated that breeder zinnia as G13) extensively with several different specimens of my current tubular-petaled strain, which is still under development. This year many of my tubular zinnia petals had rather plain ends.

I hope the genes from this G13 mutant can recombine with my current breeder zinnias (coded G1 through G53) to create some nice new petal forms. I am hoping to get rid of the brown tips, but get the five-points on the ends of my tubular petals. Next year I should have some interesting stuff in my zinnia garden.

ZM

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Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

Thanks for all the info ... I haven't learned anything about this before so it's very interesting. I did finally pull the plant out while I was weeding and deadheading. I didn't crush it into the waste barrel though, waiting to hear from you all if my plant was worth a zillion bucks. :)

I believe the seeds were all volunteers from last year's commercial seed - Burpee's Canary Gold Giant. I'll have to look again. I guess I'm not sure what I'll get from these seeds if I save them, but that's your point. Like a box of chocolates.

Vienna, VA(Zone 7a)

Hi Amanda and Zen_Man. This current post in the Plant I.D. forum - http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/fp.php?pid=9684363 - shows a plant that looks to me like a Montauk Daisy (Nipponanthemum nipponicum) without petals. Could it be another femina?

Vienna, VA(Zone 7a)

Correction, the thread is http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1337620/

Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

Hi, Amanda,

Quote from AmandaEsq :
I didn't crush it into the waste barrel though, waiting to hear from you all if my plant was worth a zillion bucks.[/quote]

It's not worth a zillion bucks. I wouldn't call femina zinnias common, but they aren't extremely rare either, especially if you grow a lot of zinnias. I have discarded several in the last few years.

The original femina zinnia that an employee at W. Atlee Burpee discovered a few decades ago was valuable, because it made it possible to commercially produce F1 hybrid zinnias without having humans do the cross pollination. Now days F1 hybrid zinnia seed producers plant rows of feminas between rows of specially inbred male pollen producing zinnias, and the bees do the cross pollination on the feminas.

You can see the stigmas in your close-up pictures of your femina. The stigmas are the yellow Y-shaped tendrils that a pollen grain can germinate on to fertilize an ovum to produce a zinnia embryo. And, of course, there are no pollen florets on the femina.

[quote="AmandaEsq"] I guess I'm not sure what I'll get from these seeds if I save them, but that's your point. Like a box of chocolates.


Exactly. You never know what you are going to get with zinnias. When you buy a packet of field-grown zinnias, the seeds were pollinated primarily by bees. Some were selfed, as the bees accidentally shook pollen florets on the same zinnia, but some are cross-pollinated by the bees with pollen that they were already carrying.

So not only do you get a few F1 hybrids in your open pollinated packet of zinnia seeds, there were already some F1 hybrids in the seeds that the seed grower planted, also courtesy of the bees. So your open pollinated packet off of the seedrack can contain some hybrids between hybrids.

And, I can tell you from personal experience, that you can get some interesting results by crossing one F1 hybrid with a different F1 hybrid. In my case, I keep records, so I know at least something about the ancestry of my hybrid hybrids. But bees don't keep records, so their zinnias are full of surprises.

ZM

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Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

Hi, Muddy,

Quote from Muddy1 :
...a plant that looks to me like a Montauk Daisy (Nipponanthemum nipponicum) without petals. Could it be another femina?


It could be. I think I would need to examine an actual flower to make sure it had no pollen bearing florets. But the femina phenomenon is not limited to zinnias. And some non-femina zinnias also don't have pollen, and I like to pick one of those as a breeder, because I don't have to go the trouble to remove florets to emasculate the bloom. These pictures show some examples of that.

ZM

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Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

p.s. Your tubular Zinnias are spectacular. :)

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

Crossposted there.

Muddy - that's an interesting plant on the ID thread. Does look like a daisy of some sort - someone has posted some TX native there too. Have to go re-examine my Nippon out back.

Learning a lot - good stuff! Thanks Zen Man.

Hornell, NY(Zone 5a)

Your zinnia photos are out of this world Zen! I've never seen such varieties, colors, and shapes before. Absolutely gorgeous! You have obviously spent a lot of knowledgeable time growing them. Nice to have you share them with us.

Zinnias are a must in our garden as well, but my taste is perhaps a little more generic. Mostly California Giants, Lilliputs, Profusions, and Zaharas. They are so easy to start in flats or Jiffies, or even tossing the leftover seeds in our granddaughter's "scatter patch". That's why zinnias are so easy to enjoy. Besides, they all make great cut flowers. Some are better, perhaps more refined than others, but like you say there is a never ending variety of types and colors.

Thanks for keeping us so well informed!

Al

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Vienna, VA(Zone 7a)

Thanks for the crash course in hybrids and for those gorgeous photos! I wouldn't have even recognized them as zinnias.

Anna, IL(Zone 6b)

Glad I'm not the only one that likes zinnias. They are one of my favorite flowers and I have often wondered about saving seed year after year (saving from the best of the best each year).

I find the no pollen zinnia most interesting - yet I wonder if their seeds are worth saving (for next years crop) even though the flower may be beautiful? Guess I need to reread Zen_Man's info a few more times. Sounds like I could learn a bunch.

A few years ago I was trying to save zinnia seed to try and improve on blooms for the largest of blooms, then the weather took a tole and I lost my lineage of large bloomers.

A few pix of my past years zinnia FUN.






Thumbnail by brendak654 Thumbnail by brendak654 Thumbnail by brendak654 Thumbnail by brendak654 Thumbnail by brendak654
Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

Hi Brenda,

I responded to your message over in the Saving Seeds forum.

Quote from brendak654 :
I find the no pollen zinnia most interesting - yet I wonder if their seeds are worth saving (for next years crop) even though the flower may be beautiful?[/quote]

I actually prefer the zinnias that produce no pollen florets or very few of them. That means that in order to get a good seed set on them, I need to cross pollinate them myself. And I do a lot of pollination and cross-pollination as part of my zinnia hobby. Cross-pollinating zinnias is relatively easy, and rewarding.

[quote="brendak654"]A few years ago I was trying to save zinnia seed to try and improve on blooms for the largest of blooms, then the weather took a tole and I lost my lineage of large bloomers.


That's unfortunate. What were the circumstances in which the weather ended your lineage of large bloomers? I ask, because there are techniques that can minimize the extent to which weather can set back your zinnia breeding.

ZM

Anna, IL(Zone 6b)

ZM

You asked about, "How the weather ended my lineage on large blooming zinnia"..... I always saved my zinnia seed and plant in the garden I call my "Wetland Garden". The Wetland Garden cannot be planted before June 1st each year because it is subject to flooding just before Memorial Day each year. It is close to an actual wetland. So I wait. Well I had planted that year, some time in June, and the plants came up and did great, blooming like crazy. Then early that fall we had some excess rain and that flooded out my zinnia seed harvest. The seedheads became wet and moldy. So that was my setback. This Wetland Garden always has great moisture (except the one occasion - flooding), and it makes for the best summer/fall showing of flowers. I spend hours just rambling through deadheading, marking, picking, sharing, etc. I remember this one burnt orange zinnia that was huge and a prolific bloomer. That was my favorite that I lost.

Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

Hi Brenda,

Quote from brendak654 :
Then early that fall we had some excess rain and that flooded out my zinnia seed harvest. The seedheads became wet and moldy. So that was my setback.


I am going to tell you a zinnia seed-saving technique that in the future may help you avoid losing your favorite zinnia seeds in that "Wetland Garden". You can actually save green zinnia seeds and dry them and package them and they will germinate just fine when the time comes. I spread them on an old newspaper and let them dry in my room for about a week.

There are several advantages to saving green zinnia seeds. Perhaps the most important is that you avoid water damage to your zinnia seeds. The seed coat on the green seeds is still alive and impervious to water -- hence no water damage from excessive rains or overhead sprinkling. Once the seeds are dried, the green seed coat is dead and pervious to water.

A secondary advantage is that the green zinnia seeds stay in the garden for a much shorter time, perhaps just three weeks or so from the time that the pollinated stigma withers. So there is a much more narrow window of risk from seed-eating birds, wooly worms, grasshoppers, caterpillars, and such.

Zinnia flowers mature from the bottom up, so the bottom row or two of petals are usually the first ones to be pollinated and the first ones to develop seeds that contain a fully developed green embryo. So I harvest my green seeds over a period of time, as they mature. For my choice specimens I harvest the individual petals, plucking them a petal at a time from the zinnia bloom. As you can see from the picture, the petals are still alive and have color, perhaps a little faded from when they first opened. The seeds in the picture were from a specimen that had Whirligig ancestry, as evidenced by the color gradient from the base of the petal to the tip. Whirligigs typically have two or even three distinct colors on each petal, and they are a favorite of mine to cross with other zinnia varieties.

Of course, not all of the petals you pick will have viable green seeds attached, so you just discard the "empty" ones as you are plucking green seeds. That is a little reminiscent of the "loves me, loves me not" plucking of petals from a daisy. Hopefully the picture will give you the visual cues to distinguish the viable seeds from the empties.

An interesting byproduct of the green seed technique is that you can sometimes recover viable seeds from zinnias in bouquets in vases after their display period is finished. Zinnias from a florist could even be a novel seed source. Or you could save seeds from your own zinnias that were in a vase.

But the main advantage of the green seed technique is that you get your zinnia seeds literally months sooner than the classic technique of letting the zinnia plants die and picking the brown seed heads. And because the zinnia plant is still blooming and growing when you are picking the seeds, you have good visual evidence of which seeds you are saving.

Another implication of the green seed technique is that it opens up the possibility of starting a second generation of zinnias while the first generation is still growing. I will go into that in more detail in a subsequent message.

ZM

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Hornell, NY(Zone 5a)

Thanks for all the information ZM, you've been very helpful. Your creations are quite beautiful!

The question I have is general, not too specific because I grow the very generic varieties such as California Giant. They are used in a very informal cottage type setting. The seed heads I have available right now are very brown, hard, and dry. They actually crumble and fall apart when handled. I realize that most of the viable seeds seem to be on the outside perimeter of the bloom, but there is also a lot of papery chaff there too. Question: Is there an easy way to separate the seeds from the chaff? Is it even necessary to separate it?

Just an added note - I have tossed some of my excess seeds, chaff and all, into a tilled "scatter patch" with misc. marigolds and cosmos and they seem to grow out okay. I have also planted my mixed, "not too valuable" seeds in old black plastic trays with potting soil, later cutting out squares like one would cut a brownie or cake for transplanting. I think pretty much any old container would do. Probably not an exact science, but it seems to work.

Thanks again for all your information.

Al

Zahara Starlight Rose below:

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Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

Hi Al,

Quote from lycodad :
Is there an easy way to separate the seeds from the chaff? Is it even necessary to separate it?


A few years ago, when I was faced with the problem of processing a lot of my "patch run" zinnia seeds, I asked myself the same question. I was pretty sure the seed companies must have winnowing machines that take brown seed heads in at a feed hopper and spit out cleaned separated zinnia seeds. I thought of several designs for a "home brew" winnowing machine, but all of them were too hard to make, and not guaranteed to work.

I wound up using a big pan to catch the seeds in, an electric fan to create a small wind, and I slowly dribbled the broken seed heads into the pan but through the fan's wind. The fan's wind did a fair job of blowing the chaff out of the stream of shredded seed heads and a lot of seeds and some heavier flower parts fell in the pan. But a lot of the lighter floret seeds were carried away with the fan's wind. I gave up on that approach, and switched to picking the seeds out of the chaff one-at-a-time. With a little practice, that goes fairly fast.

If you do try something like this, do it outside on the deck or patio, because the chaff goes everywhere. I think your techniques of planting the chaff and seeds still mixed are practical and justified in your case.

ZM

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Anna, IL(Zone 6b)

ZM,

This seed saving technique that you are sharing is exquisite and oh YES, I cannot wait to give it a try. At the beginning of the season it is always the goldfinch that start feasting the seed from the zinnia heads, so that will be another reason in addition to the wetland issue for saving the priority specimens. I was under the assumption that I needed to let the zinnia flower dry on the stem for good seed - so this is a great alternative to the wait.

Yesterday I sat down and went through all of this years zinnia seed that I had saved and by the time I had separated seeds from chaff, I think I had way more chaff than seed. In the past I did not always do the separating quite in such detail because by planting chaff and seed it probably kept me from planting them too close together (even though I have a tendency to plant them close and then I do NOT want to thin them). Therefore many of mine are crowded, but heaven forbid I miss a different bloom.

Usually I make notes of things I want to remember to do, but your technique of seed saving for the zinnia will definitely be one I will remember. Thank You ZM for sharing that technique.

Brenda







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Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

Hi Brenda,

I mentioned above that the green seed technique could be used to start a prompt second generation of zinnias, and that I would go into that in more a detail. I have just now covered that subject over in the Hybridizing forum in the "It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 5" message thread. The Hybridizing forum is one of the few Dave's Garden forums that is open to outsiders without requiring them to sign up, so it might have a better chance of attracting some additional people interested in growing zinnias as a hobby.

ZM

Anna, IL(Zone 6b)

ZM,

Thanks, I'll venture over to the other website. Since I was so engrossed in your zinnia info, I checked out some of your other thread writings on zinnia and I was amazed to see that you had zinnia blooming indoors (at least that is what I took it to be). That took some doing!! I'll stick with planting mine in the ground. Too many other things needing my attention. As for your "green seed technique", I definitely want to give that a try. And I so appreciate you mentioning that to me, as stated before. I am wondering (depending on the zone), if I could get more than one extra generation a year. Looks like you are in a cooler zone than I.
I can plant in the ground about mid April and expect frost about mid Oct. I usually plant zinnia in 4 different gardens and the last being the Wetland Garden. So the growing season here is a good 6 months. How about there? In one of your pictures, it looked like you did a protected hoop for some of your zinnia and I figured that was to get them up and going as early as possible.

Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

Hi Brenda,

"I can plant in the ground about mid April and expect frost about mid Oct."

I can plant in-ground the first week of May and I also expect a killing frost about mid October. I usually have a few light radiation-cooling frosts a week or two before the killing frost. They just singe the new petals and tender leaves. I saved and planted green seeds indoors after a couple of those light frosts, and plants from those plantings are in bud now. My objective is to harvest a crop of F2 and hybrid F2 seeds from them to have some interesting things to plant out next Spring.

I'll have to do a little more "figuring", but I think there is an excellent chance that you can get two full generations of zinnias outside at your location if you plant the second generation from green seeds of the first generation. That means you can make crosses in the first generation and see the results of those crosses in your second generation and save seeds from your favorites in the second generation. Those seeds could also be crosses if you chose to do that (I almost always do). Or you could just skip the crosses and let the bees surprise you with their "choices". But I like to "be the bee", because I keep better records.

The hoops are part of the support structures for a couple of low tunnels that allow me to plant in-ground zinnia seeds about a month to six weeks early, giving me an early start on my in-ground zinnia operations. I will probably add a third low tunnel next year, because my two tunnels were quite successful this year.

ZM

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