system for identifying new cultivars

Port Orchard, WA(Zone 8a)

I've been wondering. is there a standard for identifying new hybrids from pollination to cultivar? i've been making it up as I go along. I have a spread sheet and journal to keep track of crosses, pollen parent, pod parent, date if cross, comments. and I assign a number and use a jewel tag around the flower and scape.then when I germinate I keep that number for the seedlings. where I have trouble is, having several seedlings with the same identity. where to I do from there? do you use the alphabet with a letter? maybe someone more experienced can let me know. thanks, Jim

Mesilla Park, NM

I am not sure how others do this, but you could start with the number over again..

seeds from seedling 1


and so on, if you get seeds from 1-1



but you would have to write your table on a notebook so you could refer to your numbering system.

maybe there is an easier way.. dunno

Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)


That's almost identical to the system I use in my zinnia breeding. I do use alphabetics (A, B, C, ...) to denote the year that new specimens entering my gene pool from commercial seed sources. For example, A1 indicates the first new commercial specimen designated as a "breeder" in 2007 and B1 will be the first new commercial specimen designated as a breeder in 2008. B1-1 will be the first offspring of B1 designated as a breeder in 2008.

Sometimes I use lowercase alphabetics to designate individual flowers on a zinnia plant. For example, 1 was the central flower of my first breeder chosen in 2006, 1a was the second flower on that plant, 1b was the third flower on that plant, and 1c was the third flower on that plant. That allows me to choose different male pollen donors for each flower.

I just started my zinnia breeding in 2006, so my designated breeders were designated as 1, 2, 3, ..., with their "breeder" offsprings designated as 1-1, 1-2, .... So far I am keeping track of maternal lineage only, with a certain amount of leeway left for the male parents of crosses. Because of bees, the male parents are not always known. I haven't started bagging female flowers, but I do bag male pollen donors because the bees will harvest the pollen rather rapidly otherwise. I keep a journal that enters information for the female code numbers, including any known information about male pollen used. I probably will bag some critical female breeders this year to keep the bees from doing "my job". The bees keep rather poor records. (grin)

This is a picture of the sort of bags I use. I use an open mesh material to allow light and air to enter, while excluding the bees. I leave the bottom unclosed to allow me ready access to the flower.


Thumbnail by Zen_Man
Port Orchard, WA(Zone 8a)

Gourd, MaineMan, thanks for the help, that makes a lot of sense. I do keep a daily journal of all my crosses, and as i collect seed pods I keep track of fertile, infertle. crosses both ways. pod parent x pollen parent. it was just the after germination numbering that I was having trouble with. thanks so much for your help, Jim King

Mesilla Park, NM

Hopefully that will work for you..soon, I'll have to start my numbering also. I made these baggies last year, you could make them any size you want.. I used tulle and just sewed up one side, cut the size I needed and sewed them again at the bottom.. they are working well so I don't lose any seeds.

Thumbnail by Gourd
Port Orchard, WA(Zone 8a)

Gourd, thanks for the picture of the bags you use. but that wouldn't work for me. Hostas have many flowers all opening on consecutive days. the way I do my pollinating, the bees won't get to them anyway. I emasculate the flower, which means taking all the parts off of it, but just leaving the stigma. I then brush some pollen on it. I then tag it with a jewels tag with the #, date, pollen and pod parent. and then as the flowers open each day, I do the next one. thanks for your help, Jim

Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)


I am impressed that you apparently used a serger to sew your tulle bags. They look like they would be structurally very reliable and the serger seams would be much lighter in weight than the black yarn that I used for my joinery. I am not sure how well my serger would do on the black netting that I use, but sometime when I have some time on my hands I might try my serger on the netting.

I chose netting over tulle for better airflow through the bags. The threads in the netting are very open, but they don't allow bees to enter. And, interestingly, butterflies can and do insert their feeding tubes through the netting and sip the nectar from my zinnias. Butterflies don't seem to gather any pollen, so they don't interfere with my cross pollination like the bees do.


Mesilla Park, NM

Oh (thank you), I think you will like making your own bags, yes those sergers come in handy... make a long tube the width you need, then just cut the size you need and sew the bottoms. You can really speed sew with a serger and get them done in a few minutes. I love them, also, what you can do is make them double layered and nothing will get in there but air.

I forgot to add why i had to do something, some of the seedpods were bursting before i could collect the seeds, then came up with this baggie.. it really saves me a lot of worries.. and I can see what is happening to the pods too. I have not used baggies to keep the flowers closed after pollination, with the mgs, I just twist the petals together and they seal themselves shut, so I am lucky there. But the birds try to get the seeds, so the bags come in handy in that respect. Or I'll use them only on a rare specie plant that I want to make sure the seeds don't wander off.

This message was edited May 3, 2008 11:49 AM

Oro Valley, AZ(Zone 9a)

Hi Jim,
The way I ID seedling hybrids is by using the first letter of the name of each of the parents followed by numbers. For example: Let's say I crossed a specimen named RUSTLER (this being the pod parent), using pollen from another specimen named SAPPHIRE HILLS resulting in 35 seeds.

The seedlings would then be ID'd as RSH - 08 - 1. Next seedling would then be RSH - 08 -2 and so on.
Why the - 08 ? That would tell me the YEAR I planted the seeds.
I then provide metal name tags with the ID's for each seedling.

Later if a seedling is worthy of registration and introduction, then of course, I remove the original metal ID tag with it's new name tag.

below is a photo of the metal ID tag I use.

Thumbnail by Margiempv
Port Orchard, WA(Zone 8a)

Margie, that sound like a very good method to use. thanks so much for the input, Jim

South Hamilton, MA

I number crosses consectutively. First one this yr. would be L08-A Plant numbers would follow after germination. L keeps mine separate from DH crosses. As soon as I make the cross, # followed by parents is written in a notebook. When I cross both ways R is added such as L08-AR. standing for reciprical cross. As I start using seedlings as parents the numbers would get too confusing. I get tired at times carry the notebk so carry 'post its" and entering the notebk indoors. The main thing is to use a system which works for you. DH numbers start with the yr. numeral--he started to put J but we decided it was an extra character that wasn't needed. Once a plant is saved it turns into L08-A-5. That means that the siblings lined out before it were not saved. If things get too complicated, color can be added--L08-A-5or. The late Ben Hager color marked many of his seedlings, as he had tons of them, not the few saves of a smaller breeder.

Port Orchard, WA(Zone 8a)

irisMA, thanks for your input, Jim

Pylesville, MD(Zone 6b)

I have this need to know who's who when I'm in the seedling bed so I add the initials of the parents to the seedling # along with the year I planted the seeds
04NRlse01 is Nut Ruffles X Lakeside Elf 1st seedling with the seeds planted in 04

The problem arises when the parents are unknown
This seedling and its siblings came from mixed arilbred seeds of unknown parentage that I wanted to play with so that if they died there was nothing loss. Unfortunately or fortunately three are introducable
this is the latest one to bloom and I just gave it 02AB05. Seedling 1 & 3 are now registered and introduced, #4 I gave too much away and what I kept died and #2 is so ugly that I keep it hidden but use it as a parent which it is very good at. and #6 still has not bloomed.

Thumbnail by avmoran

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