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

Posted by maineman z5a ME (My Page) on
Mon, Jan 14, 08 at 3:28

Hi all,

In response to a good suggestion by participant pls8xx, I am starting a continuation of the It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 2 message thread here, because once again the previous thread was becoming long and unwieldy, especially for dial-up users.

As I've mentioned previously, the hybrids between a scabiosa flowered zinnia and a Burpee Hybrid or a Burpeeana zinnia can yield much elongated guard petals, as in this echinacea flowered specimen:

On the other hand, the hybrids between two scabiosa flowered zinnias can yield much smaller guard petals, but with very full centers of disk florets. Incidentally, both of these pictures were taken of blooms on plants that grew from cuttings that I took last Fall. The propagation of zinnias from cuttings is letting me continue this zinnia breeding project indoors under fluorescent lights without interruption by our cold Maine Winter. Both of the flowers pictured represent plants that were germinated over nine months ago. They were planted indoors in late March and early April.

I hope to improve the echinacea flowered strain by getting even longer and more narrow guard petals. However, it is also my hope to get specimens with much larger central florets and very small guard petals or, better yet, no guard petals at all. Such zinnias could resemble some of the Centaurea or "Sea Shells" Cosmos. I'll be looking for some progress in both directions in my F2s this coming Spring. And I'll also be doing some back crossing to help achieve both objectives.

MM


Follow-Up Postings:

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

MM, those are some great photos. I hesitate to say anything less you stop posting them. But, well, they are rather large files. I think it would be a kindness to those with slow connections if you could learn some methods to reduce the download times.

There are two things that can be done. First would be to use thumbnail links in place of the inline full size images. That way the thread loads fast and the reader can view the full size photo at will. As new posts are added on following days, the reader avoids the download time to get the old photos and yet they are there should he want to see them again.

Second is the reduction of the photo file size.

I'll demonstrate both.

For thumbnail links, two photos are uploaded; the full size one and a small thumbnail. Where photobucket is used, the thumbnail seen on your album page can be used in place of the second smaller image.

Photobucket

Right click on the thumbnail and select "copy image location" to get the url of the thumbnail. Paste the thumbnail and full size image URL in the html code as shown below.

Photobucket

The result of the above code ....

Link to original full size image, 418 KB

Next is file size reduction. First I use the jpg compression. With most photo software the user can select the amount of compression when saving an image. For me with PhotoImapct, using a factor of 100 will get the same image with no compression, and no reduction in file size. The default factor is 75, and with a photo like the one here the file size will be less than 20% of the original. There is a small loss in quality that increases with the amount of compression used. Because I like the detail in the bloom, for this image I used a factor of 85 for a reduction to 25% of the original file size.

Next is the overall image size, which I thought to be a tad larger than needed. So I reduced it to 85% of the original.
Another reduction in file size.

The last reduction is a bit more tricky. Jpg images increase in file size with the amount of detail in the image. There is a lot of detail in the bloom and I want to keep that. But if you look close the background has a grainy look. That background is made up of small areas of light and dark pixels that add to the file size. It's detail that really adds nothing to the value of the photo.

PhotoImpact allows me to select areas of an image to modify while other areas are left intact. Here I selected the background and applied a blur effect to blend the detail to a uniform smooth color. The result is a lower file size.

Here is the edited photo ...
Image file reduced to 20% of original, from 418 to 81 KB

What I'm saying is, if you got 'em, we want 'em, more photos! ... faster


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

Pls8xx,

Thanks very much for taking the time to prepare such a good presentation showing those techniques for making the thread load faster. Your graphic methods are very ingenious, and showing the needed HTML as a graphic was a great idea. Although I don't have PhotoImpact, my Adobe Photoshop Elements 5 also allows me to select specific areas for processing. I'll keep message thread load time in mind as I make additions to the thread, and try to remember to start new "Parts" to the thread much more frequently.

However, I don't want to place any roadblocks in the way of any of our previous participants (jackier_gardener, glendalekid, poisondartfrog, loretta, enoughcliches, paveggie, and you, pls8xx) who might want to post photos here, but who might not have time to "reduce" their file size. As far as I am concerned, your photos are welcome here regardless of their size. When the thread starts to get large, it's quite easy to start a new part. If it turns out that I need to do that daily, then that is doable. If you wish to use the space-saving techniques that pls8xx has shown, feel welcome to do so as well.

Thanks to paveggie and pls8xx for bringing this load time problem to our attention. When any of you notice a sluggish load time, please "give us a holler". I have a fairly fast cable connection, so I don't notice slow load times. Pls8xx, in the tail end of the Part 2 thread, you said,

"...but I added it up and there is 13 mega bytes. It would take dial-up about an hour and a half to check the thread for a new post."

Yikes! Is dial-up that slow? An "average" digital camera nowadays takes 6 MB to 8 MB pictures, and some are 10 MB and above. One or two pictures from them would "break the bank" unless the pictures were greatly compressed. I guess we lost the dial-up audience on the first day of each of the previous "It can be fun to breed your own zinnias" message threads. Just out of curiosity, is anyone still with us on this message thread who is using dial-up?

Pls8xx, thanks for sharing your great expertise and for making me aware of this load-time situation. I shudder to think of the participants who may have been using dial-up from overseas.

MM


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

Pls8XX,

Thanks for the tips. I will try them , too, when there is time. I wouldn't have posted at all if it hadn't been for MM's help! I've really never posted photos onto message boards before, and I notice GardenWeb, or at least the areas I visited on it, gave no tips on posting photos except at the album site. I have dial-up and haven't noticed any real problem getting access to the thread. But no doubt, different dial-up services have different speeds.

MM,

That last flower (super-scabious!) is a beauty! You are going to inspire all of us to try the same, and if we fail, to beg for seeds. Very nice color, too!

JG


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

First off, I'd like to say that it is the photos that truly enrich the forum. I hope that nothing said here will discourage anyone from posting their photos, be they large or small. A couple of large files won't sink the ship.

Some of us have the tools and expertise to minimize data loads and some don't. If those of us that can, do, then it all becomes more manageable and all can enjoy.

I have a fast DSL connection. I'm also guilty of posting big files. Downloads go fast for me and sometimes I just forget that it's not that way for everyone. I know how to reduce file size but I often get all excited and don't look at what I'm posting. Sorry, but I find it almost impossible to talk without a pen in my hand. So I'm not about to stop posting graphics, and I'm going to slip up and let a few big ones go. Is there anyone here that hasn't at sometime hit the post button and wished they could have it back?


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

Here's an update on my proposed use of T-shirt iron-on transfers to make plant identifiers for the garden. I made up a graphic with bold 5 digit numbers, and 80 fit on a single page. The graphic was flipped horizontally as needed for printing on the transfers.

The graphic shown flipped

This was printed onto the transfer.

A vertical strip of numbers was cut from the page and placed face down on a piece of cloth.

Ready for a hot iron.


The completed transfer

Strips were then cut to finish the number tags. I can't draw a straight line and now I know I can't cut straight either. I should have selected a cloth that had a faint stripe pattern to guide my cutting. Live and learn. What I did use is a thin tightly woven synthetic in a light green. I also think I should have used a wider piece of cloth to give longer ties. Next time I'll go from 12" up to about 18".

Ready to use

Once a plant has been selected for breeding, I plan on taking a photo of the bloom with the number strip and including it in the database.

Seen here on a pansy, the only thing I now have blooming.

I tied a number strip out in the yard to see how it fares in the weather. By spring I should have a feel for how well these tags will last.

Not much to do here with winter set in. I wonder if I will go through with all these plans come the busy summer. At least it's a nice dream for now, and much cheaper than looking at seed catalogs. I know where that leads.


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

Pls8xx,

"I tied a number strip out in the yard to see how it fares in the weather. By spring I should have a feel for how well these tags will last."

Let us know how well that label survives the outdoor exposure. It's durability will depend in part on what kind of ink your printer uses. Just out of curiosity, what make and model of printer did you use?

I am impressed by the originality of your approach to making plant labels, and how well you carried it out. Those cloth "tails" should tie nicely to zinnia stems.

MM


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

JG,

"The photo from the house is looking nearly due south..."

Well, I guessed wrong on the orientation. The lighting was morning sun. It sounds like your garden is very well situated and with good soil. Your zinnias look well nourished.

I have been expanding our garden by adding sand, because sand is relatively inexpensive compared to topsoil. I mix the sand in with my mid-tined Merry Tiller. It's sort of like a giant kitchen hand mixer. As a consequence, our original rocky clay soil has turned into a "sandy loam", with a growing emphasis on sandy. The sandy soil is rather infertile, so I use a lot of soluble nutrients as a soil drench in a combination of irrigation and fertilization that is sometimes called "fertigation". I do an occasional foliar feed.

My gardening method is rather similar to outdoor hydroponics, and isn't much different from the Mittleider gardening method, except that I don't use the special nutrient mixes. I use locally available soluble nutrients like Miracle-Gro.

I guess I should invest in some topsoil for our next garden expansion. The expansions always require additional soil because the garden is situated on a slope and I am building a terrace on that slope.

MM


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

MM, I'm using a cheap HP printer loaded with Nukote ink. I thought about using my wife's laser printer but the transfers say ink jet. The pigment on the laser is probably much better but I think it uses a heat process that might not be compatible with the transfers. And if I screwed up her printer I might have a short life.

I know what you mean about ink durability outside. The ones that don't smear or wash off seem to fade to nothing in sunlight. I think it's the UV that is the problem. Because the ink on my labels is on the backside of the transfer film I hope that the vinyl protects from fading. Time will tell.

Many years ago I had the same problem with using paper mailing labels on cell packs. In the end I used a dark number 2 pencil. Once applied, I then dabbed on a bit of Mop-n-Glow floor wax straight from the bottle. They remained readable for the season.


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

Pls8xx,

"Because the ink on my labels is on the backside of the transfer film I hope that the vinyl protects from fading. Time will tell."

The plastic coating might provide enough protection. Both of my old Epson inkjets use dye-based inks, which are quite fugitive. I laminate some of my photo prints to protect them, but even that isn't absolute protection.

Some of the newer inkjet printers use pigment-based inks, and those should be considerably more resistant to UV fading. Sunlight has quite a bit of UV, even though there isn't a hole in our Ozone layer.

MM


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

Pls8xx,

Your label manufacturing is a really good idea! They look great! Like the rest of us, I hope the ink stands up. I had always thought that Sharpies were fairly indelible, but I can say that when used on a smooth surface, the sun fades their ink quickly. I wonder if you can't find a thin, UV-resistant material or film to put on your new labels?

MM,

I can sort of identify with the challenge that your soil presents. I am a native of Pennsylvania, and where we lived, the soil was thin, acidic, and over a lot of sandstone. It needed a lot of amending! Out here in the northern half of Indiana, the soil is some of the best in the world. You can grow just about anything with very little skill. I wonder-- rather than topsoil, if you couldn't contact a farmer to donate some manure. If he has composted it, great! But if not, you can compost it, and have some nice organic stuff to put in your garden.

Besides having rich soil here, my garden is also situated in a spot that 25 years ago was a barnyard for pigs. Added fertility, and I think, possibly a reason for the tons of weeds that come up each year. Weed seeds can last quite a long time. If you compost manure though, the seeds will be killed with the heat....

Again, that scabiosa zinnia is very nice...the color is absolutely luscious!

JG


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

Nothing spectacular here, just some color for a cold winter's day!

JG


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

This one is still one of my favorites.

I don't know for sure if the flower in the last post, first row, right, was a "sister" or on a separate plant!

JG


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

JG,

That is still one of my favorites, too. I wouldn't hesitate to designate it as a breeder. I would want to cross it with a white spider-flowered male, except that I don't have a white spider-flowered zinnia yet.

I'm going to try to get a good assortment of spider flowered zinnias this year by growing a lot of cactus flowered zinnias from selected seeds that are long and narrow. I will select from those plants for the spider-flowered trait. If selecting zinnias at the seed stage proves to be effective, that will be a useful breeding tool.

Thanks for posting your gallery of zinnia photos. That is a good idea. I plan to adopt it in the coming year. Hopefully I will have a good assortment of "mug shots" to post.

Several of those in your gallery look like promising "breeders". In particular, the very first one, the one at the upper left-hand corner, the red fantasy flowered specimen. That looks like something that I would give a lot of attention to. I think you posted a full-sized picture of it earlier. I would use all of any pollen that it produced to cross with other zinnias and to "self" it to get more zinnias like it.

You have had a lot of interesting looking specimens in your zinnia patch. I look forward to seeing what you get this year.

MM


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

JG,

Last year I was wondering if I could grow zinnias from cuttings, and I was delighted to discover that I could. This year I am wondering if we zinnia growers could trade zinnia pollen by mail. However, at this time, I don't even know if that is feasible. First I plan to do a few experiments saving zinnia pollen for a pre-determined number of days under room conditions to see if it retains its viability.

It may be that the zinnia pollen has to be placed on a receptive stigma within a few hours to be effective. I know there has been some success storing pollen cryogenically, but of course that isn't the same as just putting it in a little packet, stuffing it in an envelope, and mailing it.

I've been wondering if I could "sprout" some zinnia pollen grains by putting them in some kind of solution and looking at them under a microscope. I've been wanting a decent microscope for a number of years now, to study all kinds of things, including some of the brook water and standing water around here. Curious minds want to know.

I can remember when I was a kid looking at an aphid through my toy microscope, and being amazed that you could see right through it and see all the internal organs and, in some cases, baby aphids inside it. Also, a drop of water from our stock tank had an amazing variety of small creatures in it. With good lighting, without a microscope, you could actually see the parameciums swimming around, bumping into each other and such. I think they were about 1/50th inch long. Fairly large for a one-celled animal.

Anyhow, another use for "my" microscope would be to study zinnia pollen and other tiny details of the plant. I would like to be able to take pictures through a microscope, too. There are actually some digital microscopes now, that can take pictures internally, or even send a video signal out to a TV set or computer monitor.

But it should also be possible to mount a digital camera or a video camera on a non-digital microscope. In any case, I want to learn some more stuff about zinnia pollen. And other things in my immediate environment, as well.

MM


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

MM,

I know that pollen-forming cells can be stimulated to produce more haploid cells and then be allowed to be a source of further tissue culture work. Possibly it can be shipped--would have to look that up! But, this is one example I know of, not having really worked with it myself--

http://proquest.umi.com/pqdlink?Ver=1&Exp=01-17-2013&FMT=7&DID=739282021&RQT=309&attempt=1&cfc=1

is a site describing some tissue culture work with haploid cells.

I like microscope work, too. I teach it at a very basic level, but am able to work with the microscope in my lab that is set up with a cooled digital camera. I am still working on developing better methods with it!

One thing I have always liked to do with beginning students is have them look at the backside of leaves to see the intricate structures there. A easy way to do that is to have them paint the leaf with clear nail polish, then when it has dried, peel the film of polish off and place it on a drop of water on a slide, then put on a coverslip to see the cast impression. I got a monarda, or "bee balm," leaf from my garden and was surprised to see the pretty structures one of my students saw on his slide. The tiny cells that have faint blue slits inside are actually guard cells surrounding stomata, the holes that allow the leaves to "breathe." The star-shaped figures are glandular epidermal hairs, filled with a volatile fluid, and are typically found in members of the mint family--I found, after we looked at the slide. The colors come from the digital enhancement enabled by the camera software.

JG


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

MM,

Orchid growers apparently store and ship pollen. Don't know if that could be done with zinnias.....

http://members.cox.net/lmlauman/osp/html/seed_storage.html

It would be an interesting experiment. Again, you should write up all of your findings. I think zinnias are something almost everyone can grow, and to expand the hobby over to the sorts of things you are doing I think would be appealing to lots of people..

JG


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

JG,

I couldn't access the ProQuest URL because apparently that requires the existence of a "cookie" from a prior registration. I rather doubt that I could sign up for ProQuest because I am not associated with an institution. No biggie. I am aware that haploid plants can be produced from tissue cultures of pollen cells, and that by doubling the chromosomes of the haploids, some homozygous true-breeding diploid strains could be produced. I have sort of deferred that project as "too advanced for now" and I would have to learn a significant amount of stuff before I could pull that off. That could be very useful for quickly stabilizing new highly heterozygous zinnia specimens and for producing inbred strains for the mass production or commercial production of uniform F1 hybrids. But haploids are "on the back burner" for now.

That microphotograph is great. You can see the little guard cells around the stomata, the epidermal cells, and the braced leaf hair structures very clearly. I guess the clear nail polish technique solves some problems associated with just placing a piece of leaf on a slide.

I think I read somewhere that measuring the size of the guard cells is one way of determining whether a zinnia (or other plant) is a diploid or a tetraploid. I have also deferred triploid/hexaploid zinnia production to some future date.

I'll probably start off with a relatively inexpensive low-to-medium power microscope, with hopefully some way of attaching a digital SLR to it. I don't have one yet, but I do plan to get a digital SLR camera, hopefully before Summer. I have been borrowing one of my Wife's point-and-shoots, and it is not that great at macrophotography. It doesn't even have threads that would allow screwing on a close-up lens.

A medium power microscope should be sufficient for studying pollen grains, stigmas, ovaries, and such. I don't plan to count chromosomes, so I'll defer high power to later or not-at-all. The current crop of digital microscopes tend to be rather "pricey". There is at least one inexpensive digital "microscope", but it is close to being a toy. I do look forward to being able to study zinnias under a microscope.

MM


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Hyperlink HTML

JG,

Here is another bit of HTML, in case you want to use it at some time in the future. If you type

<a href="http://members.cox.net/lmlauman/osp/html/seed_storage.html" target="_blank">The Orchid Seedbank Project</a>

you will get:

The Orchid Seedbank Project

That hyperlink HTML really makes a long URL look a lot better, and is easier for the reader to use.

MM


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

MM,

Thanks for the tip. I guess I will learn "HTML" bit by bit.

I'm sure you've already seen this book and its chapter on zinnias, where it is written "Like in other Asteraceae, pollen of zinnia is trinucleate and is probably short-lived (< 1 day at greater than or equal to 20 degrees Celsius).
Of course "probably" means remains to be tested.....also, storage conditions can be checked. Warmer than twenty degrees excludes regular mail service, unless with luck, a cold pack would work.

Flower Breeding and Genetics: (containing chapter about zinnias)

JG


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

For many years I have used a loupe for getting a close up look at things in the garden. Just can't beat it for seeing the first sign of a mite problem. A microscope would be nice to have.

The other day I was wondering about the longevity of pollen and whether a Q-tip could be used to gather it and then stored in the freezer till needed.

That book "Flower Breeding and Genetics" looks very interesting, but at $300+ it's out of my garden budget. Not likely I could even get my local library to bite on that.


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

Today I ran onto a photo from many years back, '93 maybe. Anyway, you could get the old style Burpeeanas in separate colors. Seen here with yellow mums in late September.


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

Pls8xx,

"That book "Flower Breeding and Genetics" looks very interesting, but at $300+ it's out of my garden budget. Not likely I could even get my local library to bite on that."

The paperback version, Flower Breeding and Genetics: Issues, Challenges and Opportunities for the 21st Century (Paperback), is available from Amazon at "only" $96.70 and, at that price, I think I am going to purchase it. It has the best zinnia coverage of any book that I know of, and a lot of other flower breeding information. And it has 822 pages, so it isn't a total "gyp".

"For many years I have used a loupe for getting a close up look at things in the garden. Just can't beat it for seeing the first sign of a mite problem. A microscope would be nice to have."

There is an interesting class of optical instruments known as "macroscopes" which are close-focusing monoculars or small telescopes. You can't take pictures with them, but they are a versatile tool for observing nature, both close up and at a distance. One macroscope that I have been considering is the Minox 8x25 Macroscope. (Be sure to check the "Features" and "Specifications" tabs at that link. It is 8 power and its close focusing distance is a little over an inch. The Brunton Macroscope 7 x 40 Monocular doesn't focus nearly as close at 18 inches, but it has different optical properties that might be considered an advantage, such as a much larger objective lens. Both of those macroscopes have built-in tripod sockets.

MM


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

JG,

"Like in other Asteraceae, pollen of zinnia is trinucleate and is probably short-lived (< 1 day at greater than or equal to 20 degrees Celsius)."

Well, that doesn't look good for just stuffing some zinnia pollen in an envelope and mailing it. This zinnia pollination thing is more complicated than I thought. We probably won't be trading zinnia pollen by mail any time soon. However, it might be possible to treat the trinucleate zinnia pollen in some way that would make it last longer.

For instance, this article, Respiration and Vitality of Binucleate and Trinucleate Pollen, indicates that low humidity could lower the respiration rate of the living trinucleate pollen and increase its lifetime.

Maybe a simple desiccant such the silica gel that is used to make dried flowers could be helpful in extending the viability of the zinnia pollen long enough to make it mailable and usable. Maybe little vacuum sealed plastic bags would make the zinnia pollen grains "hold their breath." Possibly storing them in a controlled atmosphere like pure carbon dioxide might work. Possibly some anesthetic or inert liquid. That liquid that mice could breathe in instead of air was interesting. I wonder if zinnia plants could live in that stuff.

I still intend to do some experiments with zinnia pollen and I still want a microscope. But apparently mailing zinnia pollen isn't going to be nearly as easy as I hoped it might be. We might have to think "out of the box" on this. Maybe I will experiment with removing an immature zinnia seed with attached petal and viable stigma and see if I can keep it alive on some kind of culture medium, fertilize it with pollen, and grow the embryo to maturity in that separated state.

It might be easier to mail living unfertilized zinnia petals than to mail living zinnia pollen. Maybe if I studied some of those old Frankenstein movies, I might get some ideas. (grin)

MM


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

Pls8xx,

If you really wanted to have that chapter on zinnias, you can always go to the publisher's website and buy and download the pdf file for $25.00, or see if it might be in the library of your closest university.

Zinnia Chapter in Flower Breeding and Genetics

Your red cactus flowered zinnias look really good with the yellow mums. That is a pretty combination!

Pls8xx and MM,

This is a direct quote I found on the internet from the Chinese Electronic Periodical Services, and thought you might like to see it:

"[Objective] In order to improve the effect of hand-pollination in hybridization of Zinnia elegans, the morphological change of stigma was observed and the stigma receptivity and pollen longevity were tested. [Method] The benzidine-H2O2 testing stigma receptivity, pollen germination test in vitro and the experiment of hand-pollination in the field were adopted in the study. [Result] (1) Zinnia elegans blossoms at 8:30-16:00 in daytime and the viability of its pollen is 18 h. (2) When it blossoms, the stigmas of florets stand upright and keep high turgidity for 7-10 days. (3) The stigmatic pollen receptivities on 1-3 d, 4-6 d, 7 d and 10 d are 79.9%-83.l%, 56.1%-63.0%, 37.0%-43.3% respectively according to the benzidine-H2O2 test. (4) The seed set at the Ѿ stigma phase, the tip of Ѿ slightly curling stigma phase and columnar stigma phase is 76.3%48.5% and 36.8% respectively by the experiment of hand-pollination. (5) The seed set of no-treatment, detruncating one lob of stigma and style of detruncating stigma is 48.8%, 30.9%, 19.9% respectively. [Conclusion]The conclusion is drawn as follows: (1) It is feasibility to test stigma receptivity by the benzidine-H2O2. (2) The seed set of pollinating at the Ѿ stigma phase after 2-3 d of flowering is more than other phases at 0.05 significance level. (3) The stigma top with hair and its big surface makes it easy to accept pollen and gets a higher seed set."

Nikon sells a nice heavy duty compound microscope, the Elipse E100, that has 40, 100, 400, and 1000X magnifications. I have them in my classroom. It is about $1400, but I think one of these years, that is something I would also like to get just to use at home. It can be obtained with a fitting for a camera.
Nikon E100

Another thought is to purchase a microscope second hand from a university or industry that is buying new models and getting rid of the old scopes, or even maybe from E-bay. Sometimes you can get really good bargains that way.

JG


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

Wherever you see an "N3/4" in the Chinese quote above, that was actually a "Y" symbol indicating the shape of the stigma, I believe.....


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

JG,

I guess that Chinese reference is machine-translated. I'm not sure I fully I understand it. But it seems to say that Zinnia pollen is released from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm and the viability of the pollen is 18 hours. It seems to say that the stigmas remain at least partially receptive for a period of 10 days. (That is roughly in agreement with my experience.) And they have devised a lab test for stigma receptivity.

That 18 hour viability time for the pollen would rule out postal pollen trading. Unless a means of extending that period of pollen viability could be devised. That could be quite a bit of trouble. It would be great to do long distance cross pollinations, but we may have to resort to old fashioned seed trading.

The Nikon E100 looks like an excellent microscope, but I'll most likely be starting out with a much less expensive model. I had hoped to find something for less than $500 that you could attach a digital SLR to, but so far I have only found models that adapt to specific point-and-shoot digital cameras, and unfortunately not including either of our point-and-shoot models. I plan to get a Nikon digital SLR, possibly a D40x, and it would be desirable to have a microscope that could let me take pictures through the SLR. I guess I'll have to do some more online shopping. I may have to settle for an inexpensive digital microscope that takes pictures with a fairly low number of pixels. But some of them take pictures with only about a third of a megapixel, and that wouldn't be nearly enough to satisfy me. Maybe I'll send the Nikon people an email asking them what they think my options are.

MM


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

MM,

You might also try Olympus. They offer first-rate microscopes, too. And, you may also be able to get a re-conditioned scope from either of these companies. I'm fairly sure they have trade-ins.

I can tell you now that although the digital cameras are very nice to use with microscopes, one major disadvantage is that they are very poor (at least for now) in capturing moving objects--they are way too slow! The advantage of them is that you take, store and manipulate on the computer, and print out immediate still images.

Another thing about the pollen...someone could also contact one of the zinnia experts (Smith or Boyle or Stimart) to see if they have worked with it (storing, shipping....or at least see if there are any written protocols somewhere).

Just a few comments before I get off to school here...

JG


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

MM,

I stand corrected on digital cameras not being able to operate at high speeds when using on microscopes.....am behind in technology a little...
Zeiss Digital Cameras
My experience has been that they work quite well with still specimens on slides. Dissecting microsopes are great for larger items like stems, petals, etc. Probably cameras would work well with those, too.

JG


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

JG,

Thanks for the update on the Zeiss digital cameras. Although I don't know any specifics about their cost, I suspect they are out of my price range. At some time in the next few years I might be ready to invest in a "research quality" microscope setup, but right now I am thinking "entry level" below $500.

It would be "nice" if my planned digital SLR could also serve to take pictures through "my" microscope, rather than use a dedicated camera for the microscope or a built-in camera, but so far I haven't found a microscope that can use "regular" digital SLRs. But that's what I am really looking for, and will continue to look for.

There are some digital microscopes that go a little beyond the "toy" stage, but are not definitely not research grade. For example, the Omano CAM 13 would certainly be better than nothing, although 1.3 MB pictures don't have nearly as much detail as I would like to capture. The price is affordable, however, so it is one of my "candidates".

If you already have a microscope that has a separate "port" for a camera, there are separate digital cameras for microscopes like the Omano CAM 2, the Omano CAM 200, and the Omano CAM 500.

There are other possibilities, like the GE-5 Digital Microscope, the Konus 1.3MB USB Microscope Eyepiece, or the MicroXplore PC600 TV/PC Digital Microscope.

I consider anything under $100 to be a "toy", like this Digital Microscope.

Nikon has a Nikon EZ-Micro Microscope, but it is a little "pricey", is limited to just 20X, and works only with a range of Nikon CoolPix point-and-shoot cameras (not digital SLRs). It is possible that the zoom feature of some of the cameras could vary the power somewhat.

The monocular Motic Digital Inclined Microscope has an internal built-in digital camera. The price is reasonable, but the pixel count is relatively low.

I still would like to find a way to interface a digital SLR to a decent, affordable stereo microscope, and so far I haven't seen that. Incidentally, digital SLRs can have some fast shutter speeds. I do believe that we are in a very transitional period, when we are going from conventional optical microscopes to digital microscopes, and I expect to see some new products introduced in the next few months. This Celestron Digital Microscope w/ 3.5 inch LCD Screen Integrated 2.0 MP Digital Camera was recently introduced.

I plan to stay on the lookout for a digital microscope, preferably a stereo microscope with a relatively low power range from 10X to no more than 100X, that can connect with a digital SLR. I might be tempted to go a little above my $500 budget with something like the Digital Stereo Microscope 10/30X, but only if it were usable with a separate digital SLR. It would be much more useful for me to purchase a stereo microscope with a port to attach a standard digital SLR, because I plan to buy the digital SLR anyway. And even the least expensive digital SLRs are far more capable than the special purpose microscope cameras.

Until I find what I need, I might play around with something like the Califone USB Digital Microscope, or I might be able to use a Universal Digital Camera Microscope Adapter Kit - CamAdapter.

MM


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

I would like to have a microscope, but for me it's a matter of the law of diminishing returns. I have a lot of use for low magnification, less for the medium range, and little for very high magnification. Moreover, for effective high magnification, I think you need to know a lot about specimen prep like staining, something they failed to teach this ol redneck in high school.

My current use of a pocket glass and also a cheap scanner takes care of my needs for low magnification. The high end equipment is out of my budget. With the high and low removed from consideration, the mid range use is small compared to cost, so it's probably out too.

What I need is a super bargain, and I might know where to get one. All my state government sends unused equipment in to a central processing department. Other state agencies get first pick to have this equipment for free. Then local government gets a shot. Anything left is open to the public at a price that is often very cheap. If a lot of the older microscopes are being replaced with digital, then I just might luck into a really good older model.

I said I have used a scanner for close up photos. Here is the underside of a marigold leaf with mite damage. Scanner set to highest resolution and photo enlarged.


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

Pls8xx,

Using the scanner was a clever idea. I'll have to keep that in mind. I have a scanner that I could use in the same way. If those spots are mites, there must have been a lot of them.

Your use of a loupe is also a good idea. I used to want a good loupe to inspect my 35mm slides, but got a cheap dedicated slide viewer instead. Its optics aren't nearly as good as a loupe.

It has been years since I used a film camera. Our old Canon EOS Elan IIE broke on the film door a few years ago and we decided it wasn't worth the cost of repairing it. Actually, it wasn't made too well, and the part of the film door that broke was rather flimsy.

My son gave me a Micronta 30X pocket microscope a good many years ago, and I am currently using it to inspect my zinnias. Micronta was a Radio Shack brand. It also has a slide-out 8X magnifier lens that I hold near my eye like a monocle.

Using it, I recently discovered thrips on my indoor zinnias, and that is bad news. I had seen thrips many times before on my outdoor zinnias, but they never seemed to be a problem. But this indoor thrips situation seems serious, several zinnias are already dead, and I am now doing some Internet research on them.

A funny thing is that there are a few Lady Bugs on my indoor zinnias, apparently eating the first and second instar thrips, because they are easier to catch. The Lady Bugs seem to be eating well, but they aren't controlling the thrips outbreak at all. Oh well. It's problems like this that make life interesting.

MM


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

You're right MM, that marigold was covered in mites. I did the scanner trick a few years ago to demonstrate on the Pests & Diseases forum how one could lay a leaf directly on a scanner to get a photo that would aid others in pinpointing a problem. I stole the marigold leaf from a public planting. I long ago learned to watch for mites in August and pull the plants before the mites could take over the whole garden.

One thing that has been on my mind the last few weeks is how important it is to me that a zinnia have a short compact plant form.

I grow in a sand/clay mix rather than topsoil. It will hold plants upright fine when dry, but when wet the soil looses its strength and the tall plants become vulnerable to wind knocking them over.

Living in Arkansas, I have a long frost free season from mid April to mid November. I could plant zinnias early but I have found that I do better to wait until late May to plant them.

Some plants like cool weather, which can retard lanky growth and produce strong compact plants. But not zinnias, with less that optimum light the stems elongate regardless of the temps.

Sunlight for me is different than for those up north. For May 15, Boston(latitude 42 deg. 21 min.) has light from 4:24 -18:57, or 14:33 hours light to 9:27 hours dark. Compare that with Dallas(latitude 32 deg. 27 min), 5:29 - 19:16, or 13:47 hours light to 10:13 dark.

If dark promotes stem elongation and light retards it, then it's logical that at daybreak and again at twilight there are periods when neither is an influence. If I take out an hour for both daybreak and sunset, and then do a ratio of light to dark I get a 1.60:1 ratio for Boston and a 1.38:1 ratio for Dallas. No wonder that my early planted zinnias turn out so tall and leggy.

Thus it can be seen that those in a southern latitude can better benefit from a zinnia that is genetically programed for short stem growth.

In order to breed and select for this trait, I must devise a way to observe which plants carry the desired trait. I had thought to measure the node to node distance along the stem from say the second node from the first true leaf up to the third node. But it is clear to me that the change in light from one month to the next would cause even the exact same zinnia to have a different measurement, dependent upon the month grown.

So it looks like I need to grow a number of plants seeded at the same time and exposed to the same light conditions. Then I can compare one plant to the next for a short trait. If I keep careful records, over time I may be able to equate one node distance at any date to that of another.

It has also occurred to me that if the zinnias are grown close together, then those that tend to grow tall will shade those with the desired trait and cause them to grow tall too, making it harder to select the good ones.

Are there better or additional ways to observe this trait? Have I overlooked something important?

Here is a link that might be useful: Mites on Marigold


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

Pls8xx,

"One thing that has been on my mind the last few weeks is how important it is to me that a zinnia have a short compact plant form. I grow in a sand/clay mix rather than topsoil. It will hold plants upright fine when dry, but when wet the soil looses its strength and the tall plants become vulnerable to wind knocking them over."

You have made a good case that you do need zinnias with a more compact plant habit. Last year, we had a very violent storm with high winds of 50mph and it blew down literally dozens of my zinnias. I had concrete re-bar tomato cages around a few of my more critical "breeders" and they were protected.

But many of my big zinnia plants snapped off at the ground and many more lost their basal branches and some lateral branches. Interestingly, some of my big bushy scabiosa flowered zinnias and most of those F1s with a "scabi" parent came through just fine, with amazing resistance to the high winds. As is usual in a high wind storm here, for a period of hours we lost our electrical power, our telephone land line, and our cable connection.

I studied the wreckage in my zinnia patch to see "what went wrong" structurally with my zinnias. As is usual for me, there were some surprises. I plan to apply what I learned from my "crash investigation" to make better decisions about plant structure this year.

For one thing, I had planted a lot of Burpeeanas, from both Burpee and from Stokes. I had a lot of "out of the seed packet" Burpeeanas and some F1 hybrids from crosses that I made between Burpeeanas. (Incidentally, your picture of the "original" red Burpeeanas shows just how nice that Burpeeana bushy look can be.)

To my amazement, some of the most disastrous structural failures were in my Burpeeanas. They have what I refer to as a "candelabra" stem structure, with basal branches coming out from the main stem at a 90 degree angle. Even though the stems look thick and strong, there is a kind of "joint" at the attachment point. Some of the basal branches that were in contact with the soil had actually sprouted roots and were apparently in the process of becoming independent plants. It's almost as if the stem joint was "willing" to detach from the main stem. But even higher up, those branches that cantilevered out from the main stem at a 90-degree angle seemed inherently weak. In almost all cases, the branches broke at their attachment points to the main stem.

The plants that seemed resistant to branches breaking off had their branches leaving the main stem at a much more acute angle, like 45 or even 30. So their branches were headed upward at the attachment point. For whatever reason, those branches seemed much better attached, even if the plant habit was more generally upward than outward.

Despite the fragility of the Burpeeana plants in high winds, I plan to continue growing them and selecting the best flowers and plants. I will just be looking for stronger attachment points for their branches.

If you want to emphasize compactness in your zinnia breeding, you can start with some strains that are already compact and cross some other zinnias with them. I personally have quit crossing the lower growing zinnias because I don't like kneeling and bending over to do my cross pollinating. I've always had a tendency toward lower back pain from my gardening, and a lot of bending over just aggravates it. However, short zinnias are interesting looking and fascinating in crosses, so I am thinking about constructing some really high raised beds that might bring those short zinnias up to a more comfortable working distance.

There are some short zinnias that you can cross with tall zinnias that will produce some intermediate compact F1 hybrids, and the F2s from them should sort out into a wide range of plants that you could pick from for further breeding.

Three of the shortest are the Thumbelina zinnia, the Zinnita zinnia, and Zinnia Short Stuff. Here is another view of Short Stuff and here is another seed source: Short Stuff at New England seed.

Some taller but still very compact zinnias are Zinnia Swizzle cherry and ivory, Zinnia Swizzle scarlet and yellow, Zinnia Dreamland hybrids, Zinnia Magellan mix, and I just found that Zinnia Peter Pan mix is apparently still available. By crossing some of those compact zinnias with other zinnias you should have the basis for creating several new strains of compact zinnias, with various degrees of compactness.

MM


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

I too have noted the tendency of candelabra shaped plants to break down, usually the lowest side branch often on the south side. The separation with the stem is seldom total and where the branch rests on the ground I have thrown soil over it and had the branch continue to grow.

I'm not so fond of the smaller flowered or bi-colored zinnias. They look stunning in a vase up close but in the garden at a distance, the effect seems to be lost.

I've tried a few of the Peter Pans and Dreamlands. Their form is compact, but the seed cost is much higher to plant in mass, and for me, once the first flush of blooms are out, then the plants seem to lose their vigor, which is a drawback for my long season.

I know what you mean about that stooping over. It gets harder every year. I have a very sloped lot and 3 years ago I started a landscape project that is still not done. I am building retaining walls to create terraced flat areas. Many of my beds are on the upside of walls that are 2 to 3 ft tall. It is a pleasure to work those beds standing on the low side with the soil at bench height. I should be able to continue at least some gardening even if I become confined to a wheelchair.


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

Pls8xx,

"I know what you mean about that stooping over. It gets harder every year. I have a very sloped lot and 3 years ago I started a landscape project that is still not done. I am building retaining walls to create terraced flat areas. Many of my beds are on the upside of walls that are 2 to 3 ft tall. It is a pleasure to work those beds standing on the low side with the soil at bench height."

I would sure like to get my garden into a similar configuration. Having the soil at or near bench height would be enormously convenient.

The property here is also sloped, and my zinnia patch is a single terrace. I used available short logs to improvise a very crude retaining wall to extend the terrace. Unfortunately, the slanted design of that wall does not lend itself to working from below. Its main advantage was that it didn't cost anything and it went up rather rapidly. I have a 5-foot wire fence/trellis at the top of the wall, mainly to keep someone from stepping over the embankment. Maybe someday I will replace that sloped wall with a more nearly vertical design and remove the trellis-fence in order to get the advantages of a tall raised bed effect. And a second terrace would let me grow more zinnias.

"I've tried a few of the Peter Pans and Dreamlands. Their form is compact, but the seed cost is much higher to plant in mass..."

That is a very good point. You can't afford mass plantings if your seeds cost something like a dime each. I solved that by saving my own seeds, and making some of my own crosses between Thumbelinas and Giant Cactus Flowered. I will continue to grow some of them and cross them with larger zinnias, with the goal of transferring some of their desirable bushy plant habits into larger zinnia strains. But I agree with you that the smaller zinnias aren't as impressive. And they can be a "pain" to cross pollinate.

"I'm not so fond of the smaller flowered or bi-colored zinnias. They look stunning in a vase up close but in the garden at a distance, the effect seems to be lost."

I like the novelty of bicolored blooms if they are big, but I don't care so much for the striped zinnias and I may quit growing them. I do want my zinnias to look impressive in the landscape. But I also want their flowers to look interesting up close. And I want the flowers to be bigger. If a 9-inch mutant zinnia appeared in my patch, I would probably go nuts. My ideal zinnia would be a much improved Burpeeana type, with a well-branched sturdy bush and lots of even bigger blooms with interesting flower forms. And if some of those big blooms were also bi-colored or tri-colored, that would also be fine with me. And I like "un-zinnia-like" flower forms. A good thing about breeding your own zinnias is that you can cater to your own individual tastes.

MM


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

MM,

In case ya'll are wondering, I'm still here. This whole thread is fascinating. Since my entire zinnia growing experience consists of a two-foot patch last year, I'm taking this all in for a learning experience. I want to plant several kinds this year and try crossing some of them.

Those photos you have all put in are fabulous.

My internet connection is high-speed satellite. No DSL here and the cable stops about three miles down the road from us. Actually, it was run for the million-dollar houses, so it stops long before it gets to the po' folks neighborhood. By the time I would pay for a decent speed of dial-up and a land line to hook it to, the satellite is no more expensive.

pls8xx,

I think the plant tags idea is great. I've not used that tee-shirt transfer stuff, but if it can be machine washed and dried, then I wouldn't think you should have any fading problem.

Does your wife have a rotary cutter? You could fold the fabric piece up several times so that it is only the size/width of the transfer strip. Then just whack the pieces apart as the cutter is made to cut through several layers of fabric at one time. Use a ruler to guide where you cut.

Karen



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

Karen, the only rotary cutters I have are a table saw, a chop saw, and an electric grinder. My wife's sewing kit consists of a button replacement pack, two needles and a bit of five colors of thread. I'm considering using a flour paste glue to attach the cloth to a board so I could use a straight edge and box cutter. After cutting I could wet the cloth and pull the labels off.


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

Hi everyone!

pls8xx, what about starching your cloth, ironing it, then using a paper cutter to cut the strips? Don't know if it would work, just a thought......Also MM's suggestion to try growing and crossing some of the shorter types of zinnias to get the characteristics you want is a good idea! I've not actually seen the Magellan zinnias outside of catalogs, but it seems they might be a strain you might like to try. From Park Seed (link above in MM's note) you can get 7 packets of all (solid) colors available for $18.95. That would be 175 seeds, not a lot, but you could try and grow those, and cross them. They are hybrids, but with time you might get shorter more true-breeding zinnias that you really like. Even if you only got 100 plants from that original purchase, you could really generate quite a few seeds! Your idea of scanning plants is interesting...I want to try that sometime.

Karen, what kind of zinnias did you try last year? Did you save the seeds?

Just to add to the imagery of the thread here, I have an ongoing hobby where I layer a smooth hardwood board, a thin piece of cardboard (like you get in a packaged shirt),a piece of muslin cloth, a flattened-out flower, and a piece of waxed paper. Then I hammer the wax paper, hitting through it the flower until the flower has been hammered flat. The dyes of the flower will be transferred to the cloth. Take off the wax paper, what's left of the flower, and the cloth. Let the cloth dry. You get some nice designs. You can do the same with leaves, and with patience, probably a lot better than I do! There's a purple zinnia, lower left-hand side, on the cloth pictured below.

JG


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

This shows more detail. (Maybe we are ready for Part 4 now...)

JG


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

JG,

That's a really creative idea. You are getting a wonderful "heirloom" effect that would be worthy of preservation. Perhaps framing them under UV-resistant glass would be a good idea.

"(Maybe we are ready for Part 4 now...)"

Good idea. See you over in It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 4.

MM


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