It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 3

Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

Hello all,

Since the "It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 2" message thread has over 113 messages, it is probably getting slow to load for some participants, particularly for any readers with dial-up connections. So we are continuing that message thread here. You can access the Part 2 thread through this link http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/940238/ and it, in turn, has a link to the original zinnia breeding thread.

Occasionally a zinnia that first impresses me as a reject will then reveal some interesting characteristics and I will designate it as a breeder instead of discarding it. That is what happened with the zinnia in the attached picture. Normally I want the petals to be well separated to allow a lot of "air" into the bloom, and I discard zinnias that have tightly packed blooms, as many of the so-called dahlia flowered zinnias have.

But this hybrid-of-hybrids specimen caught my attention with its fairly large almost ball-like bloom, with a lot of substance. Its petals are slightly upcurved, with tips that point downward and have a picotee effect. There are now three blooms on this plant, two of which are faded and senescent. I think I will start pollinating its current bloom to see what comes from this zinnia.

ZM

Thumbnail by Zen_Man
(Clint) Medina, TN(Zone 7b)

I like that one. It's very unique!

Seale, AL(Zone 8b)

Mornign Z.....

Well I been busy the past week and to my delight and horror alot of my Zinnia buds went and blooemd when my back was turned.

Well, nwo that opend, I was thinking of goign ahead and hubridizing them , but have a question for you.

Now I have side shoots formign buds too . If I go ahead and hybrizide the blooms that are open to get some seed. wil the sid ebloosm continue to grow and bloom and if I cut the nybridized bloom off soonas I see the seed it set, will the plant continue to send otu more branche s and blooms or stop blooming at that point?

try to decide if it safe to dab the oens open adn wil stil have plenty of flowers or cut the blooms off now to have mroe flowers. decisions.. Decisions??

Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

StarLight,

"If I go ahead and hybridize the blooms that are open to get some seed, will the side blossom continue to grow and bloom and if I cut the hybridized bloom off as soon as I see the seed it set, will the plant continue to send out more branches and blooms or stop blooming at that point?"

You don't even need to cut the hybridized blooms off. Just leave them on to develop their seeds. If you harvest and plant those seeds at the green seed stage, you can accelerate your second generation by several weeks. The plant will continue to grow and develop even though you have pollinated and are saving seeds from the original blooms. The ongoing development will not be as fast and extensive as it might have been if you had pinched the first bud or buds, but since your zinnias have bloomed "behind your back", you had just as well go ahead and use those blooms for cross pollinating.

The attached picture of one my breeders confirms that. I took that picture today. I pollinated the original bloom and have already planted several green seeds from it and I will continue to pull green seeds from the older blooms while pollinating the new blooms as they develop. Don't worry about pinching your buds now. Just pollinate and cross-pollinate to your heart's content.

ZM

Thumbnail by Zen_Man
Seale, AL(Zone 8b)

Thanks bunches Z.. I was doign a mild panic when I sa w they had opened. It gonna take awhile and some leanign on your shoulders to try and learn to hybridize these babies.

it all your fault. LOL Ha dot show beautiful pics and get me all interested in workign with them LOL : )

Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

EM,

Your hybrid echinacea specimens give me something to shoot for with my echinacea flowered zinnias. You have some spectacular specimens. The attached picture is one of my current echinacea-flowered breeders and I have been saving quite a few seeds from it. But past experience warns me that 90 to 95 percent of its progeny will be single rejects. I guess those odds are no worse than playing a slot machine. Maybe I will "hit the jackpot" in the remaining 5 percent. Those progeny are now growing rather rapidly.

ZM

Thumbnail by Zen_Man
Tuscaloosa, AL(Zone 7b)

ZM,

If you keep selfing it won't the percent of rejects go down and the percent of good ones go up?

Karen

Seale, AL(Zone 8b)

Oh Z...... Now that is a real beauty. : )

I hoping my zinnia make it through the next three nights. We had golf ball siz e hail today and more rains. Have them in gh but now we gonan be below freezign for the next three nights.

have no room anywheres for plants. Have covere d them with a mini gh insid e the gh and hope that will work.

Keep your fingers crosse d for me. Foudn a hummingbird in gh havign a happy day and pollinatign Zinnia I didn't so might be interestign to see what comes of them.

Some times have had beautiful crosses come from unk x unk.

Did you see this ad on the Dg MarketPlace?

http://davesgarden.com/products/market/view/6307/

Thinkign abotu mayeb gettign some. Since they comign from out of Argentinia wodner if maybe there might be a stray gene that might show up an create somethign good. What ya think?????

Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

Karen,

"If you keep selfing it won't the percent of rejects go down and the percent of good ones go up?"

Yes indeed. That is the principle for "dehybridizing" an F1 hybrid. I also cross it with other similar echinacea flowered zinnias. And, just to cover all of my options, I cross it with some other good large zinnias, hopefully to increase the length of the petals or to increase the size of the central florets or otherwise add some interest to the flower form.

ZM

Seale, AL(Zone 8b)

Z.......... Mien sure don't look as interestign or as pretty as your s but got mien growing at least for the moment.

Thumbnail by starlight1153
Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

StarLight,

I don't know if hummingbirds do a significant amount of zinnia pollination, but they do like zinnia nectar. My zinnia hairnets keep bees at bay, but hummingbirds have no problem sticking their bills through the holes in the hairnets to get nectar. I like hummingbirds, and they are welcome in my zinnia patch. The bees are OK, too, as long as they don't mess with my breeder zinnias. That is why I use the zinnia nets.

Thanks for the link to the Zinnia peruviana seed source. I planted a few from Jefferson Monticello, but they haven't bloomed yet and they might not be as nice as the ones on Dave's Garden Marketplace. Those Peruvianas seem to have more colors than the Monticello strain. I am interested in interspecies hybrids and I have already pollinated several of my Zinnia Haageanas with some of my "regular" zinnias. It's too early to tell if those crosses were successful.

Your zinnias seem to be blooming nicely, and appear to be healthy. They look like they are a low-growing strain. Now is an opportunity to pick your favorite specimens for cross-pollination. It will also help if you have several kinds of zinnias to cross-pollinate. It sounds like the weather is being a problem for you. Our weather here in Kansas is still harsh, and it will be at least a month before I gamble on setting some plants out.

ZM

Seale, AL(Zone 8b)

They are very low growign and They suppose dto be Magellans and for some odd reason they very short and dont know why . I have grown Magellans before and they were tall very tall.

Not sure if it the see d or somethign I doing. Keeping my fingers crosse d that I cna keep them healthy. Zinan not the best with the heat and humidity down here, btu gonna keep tryign anyways.

I goind down into the low 20's for the next couple nights. Not sure how much cold they can stand. Got them protecte d form the frost and wil put another cover over them in gh, makign a gh inside a gh.

I have lots of hummmer plants here. I have plenty of plants of assortments for them . I have lots of natural wildlife here I try and keep plants for and even the bees get there food and the wasps too cuz they do do a good service, just hate when they sting me.

Does it matter what color ya cross. Doe s certian color combination giv e you more of a dominate color in the F1 or are the Zinan genes so unstabel that you coudl get anythign and evrything?

Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

StarLight,

"I have grown Magellans before and they were tall very tall."

Actually, Magellans are not supposed to grow much more than 12 to 14 inches tall.
http://www.parkseed.com/gardening/PD/4708/

However, I suppose they could get taller, if they were really crowded.

"Does it matter what color ya cross. Does certain color combination give you more of a dominate color in the F1 or are the Zinnia genes so unstable that you could get anything and everything?

It does matter what colors you cross, but zinnias are heterozygous (unstable) enough to make it difficult to predict what the outcome of a particular cross will be. I suppose after we get a lot of experience crossing zinnias we may see some useful patterns emerge. Crossing your Magellans may turn out to be interesting, because I think they are F1 hybrids.

ZM

Robertsdale, AL(Zone 8b)

Hey ZM,

I've read your threads here and in the annuals forum and am intriqued by the projects you have going. I also have fond memories of mother's garden with the row of zinnias.

You have mentioned proviously that you only keep track of maternal lines... I'm curious. Is this because you pollinate each maternal flower head with several different pollen sources? Do you ever keep track of individual flowerets/seeds or try to use only one pollen source for a seed lot?

I have enjoyed your pictures and dialog and was moved to order some various varieties...! - Arlan

Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

Arlan,

"You have mentioned previously that you only keep track of maternal lines... I'm curious. Is this because you pollinate each maternal flower head with several different pollen sources?"

Yes. Even though I may be pollinating a single-color zinnia with a flower form that I like with various Whirligigs, I consider that to be a consistent policy aimed at producing bicolor or tricolor offspring from that zinnia. Knowing that, I judge the offspring by that, with success being a good bi-color or tri-color flower form. One of my long time objectives is to get a good strain of bi-colored or tri-colored spider flowered zinnias. That involves putting together two characteristics, the somewhat rare spider flowered flower form and the not-so-rare bi-colored or tri-colored coloration.

"Do you ever keep track of individual flowerets/seeds or try to use only one pollen source for a seed lot?"

I probably should take a more scientific approach to my zinnia breeding, but right now my emphasis is more on fun. I have on occasions separately labeled individual flower heads that received different pollens or pollination policies. In fact, I did that back in 2006 when I first started this project. The second female breeder that I chose was a white Burpeeana that I coded simply as "2". The central bloom was 2, and the lateral branches were labeled 2a, 2b, 2c, etc. But now I usually adopt a single pollination policy for an entire plant, even though I may not stick to it rigorously.

Incidentally, welcome to this message thread and the zinnia hobby. Just out of curiosity, what zinnia varieties are you starting with?

ZM

Robertsdale, AL(Zone 8b)

ZM,

I'm still trying to get my head around the "keep the pot stirred" approach to plant breeding, as I am coming from the approach of the Japanese "artists" that create and maintain the Mutant Japanese Morning Glory strains or systems where the challenge is to keep a few key sterile recessive genes that produce the desired flower form in a system. One enjoys the very few recessive sterile phenotypes and works with the fertile and plain hetrozygotes to identify which plants carry the desired mutants. A whole different challenge!

I am attracted to the contrast your approach presents and plan to dabble abit for something a little different!

"But now I usually adopt a single pollination policy for an entire plant, even though I may not stick to it rigorously."

I imagine that you do this to maximize the quantity of seed toward a planned pairing.... As you are selecting directly from the progeny of the cross as opposed to the traditional F2 generaion, I guess that makes sense! Your concept of vitual F2 fits this situation.

I've ordered from Cook's their Scabiosaflora mix and from Parks a couple packages each of Whirligig and Candy Mix and singles of Bright Jewels, Swizzle Cherry and Ivory, Swizzle Scarlet and Yellow, Ruffles, Candy Stripe and Zowie Yellow Flame. I also have some Ferry Morse Giant Cactus Mix and Giant Double mix. I have not yet decided how big to jump in as I also have my Japanese Morning Glory projects going!

I've started to read your threads over at GW as well.....but starting at 9 and going backwards!

Arlan

Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

Arlan,

"I'm still trying to get my head around the "keep the pot stirred" approach to plant breeding, as I am coming from the approach of the Japanese "artists" that create and maintain the Mutant Japanese Morning Glory strains or systems..."

"Keeping the pot stirred" is a pretty good characterization of my current activities. I have been crossing and recrossing F1 hybrids since 2006 so that the concept of F1, F2, F3 is no longer sufficient or applicable and I just regard most of my current breeders and their progeny as recombinants.

Actually, that is not too different from what breeders of roses, irises, lilies, day lilies, and many other ornamentals do today. Only they have the advantage that they can grow their new specimens asexually without having to worry about "stabilizing" them. But they have the disadvantage that the wait times after making a new cross to seeing the results of that cross are measured in months or years, while the wait times with zinnias are measured in weeks. I have zinnias forming buds now that are the results of crosses that I made last January. When those buds open, it won't be too long until I start pollinating my third generation of zinnias this year, and it will still be Spring.

At some point in the not-too-distant future I will transition to a more conventional breeding approach and start selfing or "sibling" crossing my good specimens. By "sibling" I mean zinnias with very similar phenotypes, regardless of their family history. I can propagate zinnias by cuttings when I need to. And I have been reading a few books on tissue culture. There are amateurs out there doing tissue culture now, though none are working with zinnias that I know of.

"I am attracted to the contrast your approach presents and plan to dabble a bit for something a little different! "

I am glad you plan to try some different techniques based on your background with Japanese Morning Glories. Your ideas will bring hybrid vigor to the collective mind of us amateur zinnia breeders. We look forward to hearing details of your "dabbling". Your knowledge of Japanese Morning Glory breeding can bring new perspectives to what we are doing.

"I've ordered from Cook's their Scabiosaflora mix and ..."

That's a good selection. Lots of possible crosses there. You might want to pick up a packet of Burpee's Burpeeana Giants and/or a packet of Burpee's Hybrids, either at a local Burpee seed rack or an online order.

I have not yet decided how big to jump in as I also have my Japanese Morning Glory projects going!"

You don't want to neglect your Japanese Morning Glory project. You can always ease into a zinnia hobby and spend as much time or as little time on it as you want. Just saving seeds from your favorite zinnia specimens starting from commercial packets and repeating that with your own saved seed can be rewarding. Since morning glories and zinnias are both annuals, some of the techniques might be interchangeable. Do you grow your morning glories indoors under lights in the Winter, and have you tried propagating them from cuttings?

ZM

Robertsdale, AL(Zone 8b)

ZM,

"Your ideas will bring hybrid vigor to the collective mind of us amateur zinnia breeders."

I'm just an amateur like the rest of you! I do agree that the different backgrounds and experience bases we all bring to the table of the forum is one of the strengths of this format.

"You might want to pick up a packet of Burpee's Burpeeana Giants and/or a packet of Burpee's Hybrids...."

Just did and they should be on the way...

"You don't want to neglect your Japanese Morning Glory project. You can always ease into a zinnia hobby and spend as much time or as little time on it as you want."

That is exactly what I plan to do. I do know from past experience though that I very easily get so focused on the current interest that the other valid interests I have will suffer. One goal in my life is to find some balance in all this!

"Do you grow your morning glories indoors under lights in the Winter, and have you tried propagating them from cuttings?"

I have not grown MGs under lights, though there are several on the MG forum that do quite successfully. I'm not equiped to do that now and it can take quite a bit of space. I imagine though that propogating MGs from cuttings could be a worthwhile project for many of the same reasons you express for zinnias.

I've enjoyed your photographs and share your interest in photography and macro photography. My return to zinnias is partly to blame on my desire to get plants in the yard that attracted butterflies. I found myself learning how to photograph them and discovered the close up beauty of the zinnia bloom in this fashion. Here is a little skipper visiting a single zinnia. - Arlan

Thumbnail by atenkley
Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

Arlan,

That's an impressive photo, artistically and technically. Very sharp and close with good colors. I think I can make out individual pollen grains, or little clusters of grains, on the nearest floret, and on some others as well. You must have a pretty good camera and lens. Mind telling us what equipment you used? I am a little equipment-minded right now, because I have been borrowing my wife's Kodak Z712 IS point-and-shoot and I feel limited that it has no threads for screw-on closeup lenses and its Flower Mode can't really get into macro closeups. A lot of my closeups are made by taking the camera's maximum sized pictures (about 7 megapixels) and then cropping a closeup out of them in Photoshop. I have decided to get a Nikon digital SLR of some sort, so that I can interchange lenses and use a true macro lens when I want to. But I'm going to wait to see what Nikon offers in their next round of new models, which should happen in the next few months, if this lousy economy hasn't screwed things up.

I really like skippers. They have been around me since as early as I can remember in my childhood. I have always noticed that they hold their wings vertically instead of horizontally, but only in relatively recent years did I realize that entomologists classify skippers and butterflies separately.

Zinnias do attract skippers, butterflies, bees of several species, several mimics of bees, hummingbirds, and I suppose a variety of other things. A zinnia patch can become its own ecology, and be very interesting to study from a naturalistic standpoint. And provide a lot of photo opportunities. In recent times I have become suspicious of ants on zinnias, after learning that some ants herd aphids as cows for their nectar.

"I do know from past experience though that I very easily get so focused on the current interest that the other valid interests I have will suffer. One goal in my life is to find some balance in all this!"

Yes, a lot of multitasking seems to be called for. But it can have its benefits, where tools or techniques in one endeavor can find use in another endeavor. For next year, or possibly this coming Winter depending on how busy I am, I am tentatively considering some tissue culture experiments with zinnias. I might ease into that by first trying to perfect a cutting propagation technique that requires only a small amount of the donor zinnia plant. With the right protocol, I think that is doable.

ZM

Robertsdale, AL(Zone 8b)

ZM

Thanks for the comments on the photo. I have enjoyed the detail visible in these pictures as well. I have a Canon PowerShot Pro1 that I purchased in 2004. It was considered a high end point and shoot at the time. It has great fuctionality with the ability to manually control most aspects of the process. I have found that its super macro mode suits me well and I stop it down for maximum depth of field and use the attached flash to get consistent results. It has its limitations, but has served me well as an introduction to digital photography. I too would love to upgrade to a new SLR with all the flexibility it allows and encourages.

I have found the garden to be a great place of opportunity for my version of macro photography.

I will be watching in anticipation and interest as the micro-propogation techniques are explored on this and other threads! - Arlan

Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

Hi all,

I am re-potting a bunch of the seedlings that grew from green seeds that I took from some of the specimens that I cross-pollinated last January and February. As you can see, some of them are beginning to form flower buds. (That's actually kind of shameful, because some of them are still in 2-inch pots.) But I am happy to see the buds forming, in anticipation of seeing new hybrids. And I am putting them into larger pots.

ZM

Thumbnail by Zen_Man
Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

Hi all,

I am particularly encouraged, because the parents of these budding seedlings (and others like them) are still "alive and kicking" and putting out more flowers. This echinacea flowered zinnia is an example. I have several indoor zinnia plants that continue to produce seeds while hybrids from them are approaching the blooming stage. It will be neat to have the parents and their children in bloom at the same time, because it will give me the opportunity to both back-cross and forward-cross, which is something I have never done before. The green-seed planting technique is really paying off.

ZM

Thumbnail by Zen_Man
Tuscaloosa, AL(Zone 7b)

ZM,

You are truly making great progress with your hybrids.

Karen

Seale, AL(Zone 8b)

Z... It also a good tiem to take pics of the parent s and kids too at the same time.

Lets so have the photos to look at side by side. A collage of the parent s and seedlings.

I have a hybridizing friend that does Daylilies, and it amazign when you look at the parents and then all the kids together. Some you cna anticipate and see the crosses workign like a punnett square but then you get others that it like where did you coem from and you cna see the hidden recessive genes pop up.

Adelaide, Australia(Zone 10a)

To Arlen and ZM re cameras.

Due to lack of personal funds I have been using my entry level 4mp Kodak Z700 digital camera since I purchased it in a brief flush of wealth way back in 2005. I too lament the lack of control of focus as I came from the film world and have a VERY good RICOH film SLR. I still use this camera for the very smallest of flowers, figuring I can get the slides digitized later on.

Macro shots with the digital are a very much hit and miss affair for focus as the pesky camera always seems to want to focus on the background, but recently I have come across a new technique that seems to produce better results. As you probably know, the zoom on most Digital cameras is a combination of Optical measures (what the lens does) and digital measures (what the software in the camera does). You want to keep within the Optical zoom range for this trick (mine is 5x Optical) as the digital range will blur the details of your subject by cutting down on the available number of pixels. Set your camera to it's close up or macro setting. Locate the camera close enough to the item to blur out the background in the CCD screen (usually 6 inches or so is good) Tap the zoom button. Now it will be VERY blurry. Keep watching the CCD and back away slowly. At some point, the thing you are trying to photograph will jump into nice clear focus and you can take your picture.

This is a photo taken using this technique

Thumbnail by Kaelkitty
Adelaide, Australia(Zone 10a)

...and this is the same plant in a shot taken just using the normal closeup and trying to get as close as I could to the same plant. If you open both links in different browser tabs and click between them you should be able to see the difference

Ciao, KK.

Thumbnail by Kaelkitty
Adelaide, Australia(Zone 10a)

The stats for the "normal" closeup digital photo (notice the sharp background, blurry foreground) are:
668kb, 2304 X 1728 pixels, 1/180 shutter speed, Normal program exposure, f2.80 aperture, 6mm focal length, ISO80

The stats for the "telephoto" closeup digital photo (sharp foreground, blurry background) are:
585kb, 2304 X 1728 pixels, 1/60 shutter speed, Normal program exposure, f3.40 aperture, 12.3mm focal length, ISO140

And, just for the sake of comparison, The stats I would normally use for this type of shot with the Ricoh slide film camera together with some discussion of how the results compare:
NA, roughly equivalent to a digital size of 2704 x 4064 pixels, 1 second shutter speed, f16 aperture, my regular lens (Rikenon 1:1.7 50mm) plus a 13mm close up ring extension, using ASA 100 slide film. This produces a final image having the flower heads at about the same size in the finished photo, but with a with a resolution equivalent to about 11mp and an massively greater depth of field which is a good thing. On the other hand, the camera is quite heavy and it's a lo-o-ong exposure, I would need to haul out the tripod, find a bit of level ground, fiddle about for about 10 minutes trying to get the plant and the camera at just the right distance from each other etc.. etc.. to even get a picture! Looking back it seem a wonder that I ever took up photography in the first place. LOL!

Anyhow, try out my little trick and see if it helps you out,

Bye for Now, KK.

Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

KK,

"Set your camera to it's close up or macro setting. Locate the camera close enough to the item to blur out the background in the CCD screen (usually 6 inches or so is good) Tap the zoom button. Now it will be VERY blurry. Keep watching the CCD and back away slowly. At some point, the thing you are trying to photograph will jump into nice clear focus and you can take your picture."

I want to clarify a couple of points about my understanding of that procedure. I am guessing that you intend to start with the camera in the zoomed out (wide angle) lens setting. Then when you tap the zoom button, you apply a little zoom, but not enough to get into the digital zoom range. Then as you back away slowly, you are moving the camera away from the subject and you may, in fact, be fairly far away from the subject, depending on how much zoom your "tap" applied. Incidentally, the difficulty of applying a controllable amount of zoom is one of my criticisms of the Kodak Z-series of cameras. That is why you described the amount of zoom as a "tap". Then, when you do depress the shutter, the automatic focusing could kick in anyway, because when the shutter button goes halfway down it will put a green box around the area in the image it has chosen to focus on. Perhaps, if you are quick enough to keep the auto focus from activating itself, you can get the picture that you saw and liked in the viewfinder.

I will use this method when all else fails with my Wife's Kodak Z712 IS. The method has a couple of disadvantages. First, your initial wide angle perspective, and inherent increased depth of field, has been shifted (by the "tap") to a partial zoom perspective with decreased depth of field. Although a lot of macro photographers deliberately want a limited depth of field to throw the background nicely out of focus so it won't compete with the subject, I usually wish I had more depth of field in my flower closeups, so I usually take my flower pictures in the maximum wide angle lens setting. The Kodak Z712 IS focuses closer at the max wide angle.

The "Manual" mode is kind of a joke with the Z-series Kodaks, because as far as I can tell, there is no way to manually set the focus of the lens. The lens focus setting is apparently under the exclusive control of the Automatic Focus system. However, the zinnia blooms that I photograph are usually fairly prominent in the foreground, such that the camera's rather primitive Auto Focus usually does focus on the flower, and not the background.

In those cases in which I wish to force a predetermined close focus on a predetermined subject, I think I will modify your method to auto focus at the desired distance on an unambiguous object like an open book, and then move the "pre-focused" camera to the floral subject area. I will move the "pre-focused" camera back and forth, so that the pre-focused zone falls where I want it to be in the subject area. I will then quickly push the shutter to keep the Auto Focus from kicking in and messing things up.

"I too lament the lack of control of focus as I came from the film world and have a VERY good RICOH film SLR. I still use this camera for the very smallest of flowers, figuring I can get the slides digitized later on."

I had some old Kodachrome slides that remained in pretty good shape despite the fact that they were many years older than Kodak said the dyes were good for. To further complicate things, many of my slides were Stereo Realist stereo slides, which won't fit in most slide digitizers. I finally solved my problem with an Epson Perfection V750 Pro flatbed scanner, http://www.amazon.com/Epson-Perfection-V750-M-Color-Scanner/dp/B000EZU0WE whose high 6400dpi resolution did a very passable job of digitizing my slides, including my stereo slides. Now I have to worry about how long my DVDs will last. However, all of my old Polaroid prints had gone completely bad, so there was no way of saving them.

Your messages have been quite thought-provoking and helpful, and I much appreciate your participation here. Welcome to our little band of zinnia gardeners.

ZM

Robertsdale, AL(Zone 8b)

KK, ZM,
My camera does have a manual focus setting, but it has very limited capabilities, even though all focusing is through the lens. The view finder on this camera is not optical but is digital which makes it nearly impossible to see clean focus due to the resolution of the viewing mechanism. I have best results using the auto focus and learn to stage the shot to overcome the limitations KK describes.

To get better depth of field I stop my lens all the way down , f8, and then add required light with flash. I have the electronic telephoto disabled and use only the optical zoom capabilities. Zooming in the super macro mode does allow me to back away far enough to keep the flash shadow of the lens out of the picture. I have been able to crowd this limitation by using white reflectors to bounce the flash where needed, even to the extent of eliminating the lens shadow on extremely ( for this system anyway!) close shots.

The flash allows the shutter speed to be adjusted to assist in getting sharply focused pictures while hand held. I'm pretty mobile when in the photo mode in the garden! Arlan

Adelaide, Australia(Zone 10a)

ZM,

Hi All,
Yep, the "Manual" mode is a joke! My old rule for close up photos used to be to set the F stop to 16, stick the camera on a tripod with a release cable, focus, take a deep breath and hold it, then "click". You just can't do it that way with the Z700. Depth of field has always been MY biggest problem because I take photos of VERY small things - some of the succulent flowers I photograph are less than 2mm in diameter. I have NO idea what my effective depth of field actually is with the Ricoh - I guess I should try taking photos of a ruler! With the full set of extension rings on the body of the Ricoh I used to be able to move the lens out by 65mm and I found that was getting pretty close to the limits of usability.

When I got the digital I had to learn how to take photos all over again - I had NEVER taken so many bad photos in my life! I am still finding out new ways to do things, even though I've had this camera since December 2005.

I am not quite sure what you mean by "pre-focused" though. On the Z700 the focus changes every time you move the camera - I only WISH I could set the focus and then move the camera around! Sheesh! I've had no luck using the flash on plants though, and, come to think of it, not much luck on anything else - here's what I did to my poor long suffering cat the other night using the flash. (Indoors and 2 am with the kitchen light on)

TTFN, KK.

Thumbnail by Kaelkitty
Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

KK,

"I am not quite sure what you mean by "pre-focused" though. On the Z700 the focus changes every time you move the camera - I only WISH I could set the focus and then move the camera around!"

I don't know if this works the same way on your Z700 as it does on my Z712, but by "pre-focused" I mean to focus on some unambiguous subject like a book page at the distance you want to be focused at and then continue to hold the shutter button halfway down and move to the subject you want photograph at that distance and do your trick of moving the camera in and out, continuing to hold the shutter button halfway down, until your prefocused setting appears to be focused on that part of the subject you want to be in focus and then you push the button all the way down to take the picture. Whew! What a sentence! Much too long.

The step of holding the shutter button in the halfway down position for an extended time is a bit awkward, but, as you say, if you don't do that, our cameras keep hunting for a focus. I really need a decent digital SLR, but I plan to wait a few months to see what Nikon's new offerings will be.

ZM

Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

Hi all,

I had mentioned previously that I was growing some Aztec Sunsets in an attempt to cross them with some of my "regular" zinnias. I noticed that one of them was growing very short and I suspected that it had received an overdose of plant growth regulator. I have since learned (by reading the seed catalogs a little more carefully) that Aztec Sunset isn't just an improved Persian Carpet with somewhat larger flowers, but that it is has a short plant habit as well. From that I can only conclude that my other taller Aztec Sunsets were off-type. In my next planting of Aztec Sunsets, I will probably be roguing out the taller and semi-trailing plants. Here is a picture of my "on-type" Aztec Sunset. I pollinated it with a lot of my Z. violacea breeders but, as far as I know right now, none of those crosses "took".

ZM

Thumbnail by Zen_Man
Robertsdale, AL(Zone 8b)

The discussion of crosses with Z. haageana has grabbed my attention to the extent that I have added the Persian Carpets to my plantings. I just received Aztec Sunset seed from T&M and will plant soon. My seed packet states the height as 12-15 inches...

I agree that the variety of color patterns found in these strains has potential as additions to the Z. violacea selections. I'm not sure if I'll have time to do more than save seed from selected plants, but I should have some options for crosses etc if the spirit moves me..

I did a little research on early Z. haageana hybrids with Z. violacea and found some interesting information that I formatted for easy viewing here: http://atenkley.wordpress.com/zinnia/zinnia-darwini/

Arlan

Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

Arlan,

Thanks a lot for the link to your research on this. Good work. So far I haven't gotten any viable interspecific hybrid seeds, but I haven't given up on this. I think our Whirligigs and Zig Zags owe their existence to those early interspecific "impossible" hybrids. With the improved zinnias that we have today, we have the possibility of creating improved versions of those early hybrids.

Some of my second generation zinnias from green seeds are coming into bloom now. This one shows some influence from scabiosa florets in its central petals. I now have the pleasant task of choosing which crosses or selfs to make to create my third generation of zinnias this year.

ZM

Thumbnail by Zen_Man
Robertsdale, AL(Zone 8b)

ZM

Your orange flower does show nice progress in your project. I especially like the uncommon subtle hint of a lighter color base with darker tips. I know this is something you have mentioned as a goal as well.

An interesting note from the early hybrids with Z. haageana which may or may not be significant ....is the direction of the cross. Z. haageana is described as the seed parent.

Arlan

South Hamilton, MA

I have lost track of the forum & pleased to be able to see progress. Especially charmed by the color on the post of April 14. Yes we iris people have to wait several yrs instead of several generations a year. fun, though.

Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

Lucy,

Glad to have you back. Zinnia breeding does have the advantage of quick results, because zinnias do grow and develop fast, and they come up fast from seeds. Thanks to my indoor operations, I am now pollinating second generation flowers with each other and with some continuing first generation flowers to produce seeds that will become my third generation of zinnias this year. I hesitate to speculate on how many generations of zinnias a person could get in a year.

But you can get interesting results with only a casual approach to zinnia breeding. You could just grow a packet or two of zinnia seeds and save seeds from only your favorite specimens. Just repeating that process can make some impressive progress. Each new crop would be the "best of the best". Crossing your favorites with each other can make that even more interesting.

Even though Irises are your "first love", I hope that you will participate with us in at least a little casual zinnia breeding. Your background in iris breeding might help with zinnias. I wonder if an iris flowered zinnia is possible. I have seen pretty good results with marigold flowered zinnias and echinacea flowered zinnias.

Because a lot of my hybrids have at least some scabiosa flowered heritage, I am getting a lot of singles in this year's second generation. Since single zinnias are not one of my breeding objective, they are almost always rejects. Occasionally a single shows some attractive characteristics, like this one with curved petals and some scabiosa-influence florets.

ZM

Thumbnail by Zen_Man
South Hamilton, MA

You would have to plant zinnia seeds outside after the last frost, right? Would not do inside work. First iris pod is forming, tell you what happens in 3 years. It is a miniature dwarf.

Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

Lucy,

"You would have to plant zinnia seeds outside after the last frost, right?"

Right. Zinnias like warm, moist soil to germinate in, and they can't take freezing temperatures.

A miniature dwarf iris pod, and we will see pictures of those flowers in three years. This suspense is driving me crazy! Where is that Fast Forward button on the remote control?

ZM

Baton Rouge area, LA(Zone 8b)

Love this one. It has a lot of warmth and is festive. Nice cut flower!!!! Karen

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