Return to the Annuals Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Posted by zenman Kansas 5b (My Page) on
Tue, Apr 29, 14 at 14:49

Hello everyone,

Welcome to this ongoing message thread. Once again, the previous part of this continuing series, It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 24, has become rather long and slow to load or read, so we are continuing the series here for yet another fresh start.

The same guidelines apply here. Anything remotely related to zinnias is fine. Now that warmer weather is upon many of us, we can start preparing for our zinnia gardens. As always, if you have any related pictures, you are invited to post them.

In order to get a somewhat earlier start in my outdoor zinnia garden, I constructed a third low tunnel, and populated all three tunnels with in-ground plantings of zinnias. This is a view from the West looking East.

This is a view of the same three tunnels, looking at them from the East side.

I do have some small zinnia seedlings growing in those tunnels, along with a good stand of Lamb's Quarter weed seedlings. My weeding work is "cut out for me" as soon as I remove the covers of the low tunnels.

I am continuing my recent practice of having larger pictures available when you click on my posted pictures. When the larger picture opens in its own window, you can hit the F11 key to hide that window's heading, which makes the entire window available to the picture. When you are finished viewing the picture, you can hit the F11 key again to reveal the window's heading, making it convenient to close the window so that you will be back here in this message thread.

More later. It is cold and rainy here for the next few days, so I am busy saving seeds from my indoor zinnias.

ZM


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hey ZM, thank you for your compliments on the previous thread; however, I must correct you: I use regular cheap flourescent bulbs, supplimented by a southern window. I have a shop light with two 32w, 3000k bulbs - not modified, unlike yours. I also use a box fan pointed at the plants every day or two for an hour, which seems to make them sturdier. In the morning, if the day is supposed to be sunny, I use a couple ziptie loops on the chains to lift them out of the way, so that the lights themselves don't shade any plants.
So, I must assure you, your indoor setup is far superior to mine. I believe the person you're referring to would be Mister.Guy, who has a pretty awesome setup, and went in depth about some of his findings with color temperature and internode length, lighting systems, and so on.

It is also cold and rainy here, since we live relatively close now that you're in eastern Kansas and I'm in west central Missouri. Well, I planted my two taller zinnias yesterday, in a spot that I picked out at the last moment. I started digging and realized that there used to be gravel there, a few inches down for a couple more inches. With zinnias, I think that soil mix is gonna work out just fine. It did have worms crawling around, and the soil on top supports some mighty weeds every year.

In other years, I would be pretty worried about seeing temperatures at or around 40f low, but so far this year I have kept them outside down to 38f, and I don't see much damage to anything except the geraniums, which show a minimal amount of purple rings on the foliage. So I'm going to stop worrying about it, and the warmer weather will come soon. In fact, looking at the forecast, Friday should be 65 and by Tuesday next week, it's supposed to be 81 and sunny - wow. Pretty stark contrast to 52 and raining currently.


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hi Telescody,

"... however, I must correct you: I use regular cheap fluorescent bulbs, supplemented by a southern window."

Oh, yes, it was Mister.Guy with the HID lights. I must have been having a "senior moment." Well, you are doing just fine with your fluorescent rig. I should get a fan directed at my plants. Last year I did have a fan directed at my seedlings, but the fan died. It was a cheap one. I should replace it, because it really is good for the indoor plants to have some wind. My outdoor plants have no shortage of Kansas wind. I even protect some of my breeder zinnias with "zinnia cages", which are like a smaller version of my big tomato cages.

I am going to plant some more commercial scabious flowered zinnias outside after it warms up a bit. One of my interesting scabious recombinants had extra big central florets.

As I continue breeding in that direction, I hope to get the central florets much bigger yet. That would be in keeping with my goal of getting the individual zinnia flower elements to be, in effect, individual flowers in themselves. This year I hope to mix the tubular-petal trait with scabious florets and also with the star-tipped trait -- all three things in one combined hybrid. Hopefully the progeny of such a multiple hybrid could produce some lucky recombinations of factors from all three variants, resulting in some really new zinnia flower structures.

Fortunately my indoor zinnias have fulfilled their purpose of providing me with a supply of advanced generation seeds to plant in-ground. Since they are crosses of crosses of mutants, I am fully expecting to have to do a lot of culling of rejects, because so many recombinations of traits are bad combinations that just don't work. I have mentioned in previous parts of this message series that Sturgeon's Law also applies to zinnia breeding. In my experience, at least 90% of my recombinant zinnias have been "crap", so I do a lot of culling of the rejects. Most of my work is with the best 5% of my zinnias. I send a lot of zinnia plants to the landfill. I used to make compost piles of zinnia "pull-ups", but zinnia compost tended to spread zinnia diseases, so I quit doing that.

"... While these ones are attracting some bugs, the next batch of zinnias can be growing."

You said that in a previous message. Just out of curiosity, are there any particular kinds of bugs that cause problems in your Missouri zinnias? That seems to vary a lot with location. When we lived in Maine, Japanese Beetles and cutworms were my nemesis. Oddly, here in Kansas, Nine-Spotted Cucumber Beetles and "wooly worms" have been my main problems. I have reduced the Nine-Spotted Cucumber Beetle problem by quitting growing things that attract them, like cucumbers, muskmelons, watermelons, and such. That seemed to help a lot last year.

Wooly worms are easy enough to hand pick, but you have to be watchful, because a single big wooly worm can eat a lot of zinnia plant in a single day. And a big wooly worm can just crawl in from somewhere unannounced. It's not like they hatch out from an egg on the zinnia plant and grow up on the plant. Wooly worms are very seasonal here, appearing mostly in the Fall. More later.

ZM


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Well, while you guys are going to town, planting zinnias left and right, building tunnels, growing multi-generations in a single bound, I am just looking for a window of time in which to transplant my tomatoes again, and to start some zinnias indoors for planting out - if I'm lucky - in a month.

The good news is, thanks to modern medicine, the sick cat is going to live, and I got a good night's sleep last night - finally. Other good news, the mega-storm hit us with rain and some winds, but not much else and has passed us by. Now it's just going to be some normal rain showers. My heartfelt condolences to those down south - a bad scene in places right now, I know.

Friday, I should be transplanting things indoors, and hopefully moving some cole crops and perennials to the greenhouse to clear up space under the lights. No freezing temps predicted for at least a week. Normally by this time, I'd be carrying stuff outside in flats, for an hour or so at first and building up to full day, to begin the hardening-up process. Hasn't happened yet. Maybe this coming weekend - crossing my fingers.

- Alex


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hi Alex,

Glad your cat is better. And that you could get some sleep. It's cold and windy here today, with a north wind and a chance of showers. I'll be spending the day inside, doing transitional indoor gardening chores.

"... while you guys are going to town, planting zinnias left and right, building tunnels, growing multi-generations in a single bound, I am just looking for a window of time in which to transplant my tomatoes again, and to start some zinnias indoors for planting out - if I'm lucky - in a month. "

Chuckle. You do have an entertaining way of saying things. But sometimes I do need to take more than a single bound. I am more like a hopping rabbit than Superman.

Some cactus flowered zinnias have a naturally-hanging-down trait for their lower petals and, although it does reduce the diameter of the bloom, it can have a "look" that I like.

That specimen may have been a cross-pollinated cactus zinnia, but I have gotten that same look directly out of a seed packet of cactus flowered zinnias. Since I will be growing several beds of Burpeeana Giants this Summer to increase my gene pool, I will be on the lookout for that trait, and label it to cross-pollinate it with similar specimens, if any are available. I think it would be possible to develop a strain of extra-deep-flowered zinnias. More later. Time for another "bound" of indoor gardening.

ZM


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

ZM - I like that look, but explain please, what you mean by "extra-deep-flowered". Are you meaning the downward dipping angle of petals?


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hi Alex,

"...what you mean by "extra-deep-flowered". Are you meaning the downward dipping angle of petals?"

I am referring to the side view of the bloom, like in the picture above. The distance from the top of the side view to the bottom of the side view can be thought of as "depth". If that distance is considerably larger than the width of the side view, I would describe that condition as "extra-deep-flowered". Some deep flowered zinnias achieve that shape by having an extra long central cone -- that extension of the stem to which the petals are attached. Others have a more normal cone, but send their first petals downward like in the picture above, and like my previously pictured "Pink Shaggy Dog".

Zinnias that get the deep look primarily with petal shape can look good, but when I am shucking seeds I occasionally find a seed head that has an impressively long, strong central cone, and they usually have a deep flowerhead that can be quite heavy and simply loaded with seeds. Just by studying the shape of the bloom, you can develop a kind of X-ray vision for zinnias to detect long central cones on blooming zinnias. Central cone characteristics are a trait that you can consider when evaluating a zinnia bloom.

ZM


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

ZM - OK, got it. Am looking forward to tomorrow when I have the day off to do gardening. Will at least be pre-germinating some of each of the zinnia seed packets, though I'll limit it for now as I am strapped for light space.
- Alex


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hello Zenman, I am doing the 'Zahara' series this summer.


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hello Rose,

Good to hear from you again. The Zahara zinnias are members of the species Zinnia marylandica and they will not cross with the Zinnia violacea (elegans) that I grow to produce fertile offspring, so I don't grow Zaharas for that reason.

Zinnia elegans and Zinnia violacea are the same thing. Elegans is still the more common reference, but violacea is used in academic circles and is "catching on". I have read a bunch of technical papers that use Z. violacea, but as a kid all I knew about was Z. elegans, which was the usual reference in seed catalogs and garden books.

Zinnia marylandica is a manmade species that was created by crossing specimens of Zinnia angustifolia (22 chromosomes) with specimens of Zinnia violacea (24 chromosomes). The resulting interspecific hybrids had 23 chromosomes, and since 23 is an odd number, those hybrids could not set fertile seeds. That fertility problem was solved by using colchicine to double the chromosome number to 46, which is an even number. The resulting 46-chromosome new species of zinnia was named Zinnia marylandica, in honor of the University of Maryland, where much of the research was done on that interspecific cross.

The first commercial version of Z. marylandica, Rose Pinwheel, was introduced by W. Atlee Burpee in 1987. Five additional colors of Pinwheels came from Burpee in the following years. Later the Sakata Seed Company developed the Profusion series of Z. marylandicas. Profusion Orange and Profusion Cherry received All-America Selections gold medals in 1999 and Profusion White received an AAS gold medal a few years later. The Zaharas are the newest, and arguably the best, commercial Zinnia marylandicas.

Marylandicas do come true from seed, and you can save seeds from your favorite Zaharas if you wish. That would put you on the road to breeding your own strains. You can probably make your own crosses between Zaharas if you wish. There are no commercial F1 hybrid strains of Marylandicas that I know of, but you could probably make your own F1 hybrid Zaharas by cross pollinating the same way that Z. violaceas are crossed. The pollen florets and the stigmas of the Zaharas are somewhat smaller than those on Elegans, so the manipulation of the pollen florets and access to the stigmas would be a bit more tedious, but it should be doable. You could widen your crossing opportunities by growing some Profusions and Pinwheels as well.

Saving seeds from your F1 hybrid Zaharas would be exploring some new territory. I have no idea whether that would be successful, or whether crossing various F1 Zahara hybrids with each other would be successful. Those 46 chromosomes could be problematic. On the other hand, some fantastic new hybrid Zahara zinnia varieties might be possible.

You might even be able to get some crosses between Zaharas and "regular" zinnias, but those hybrids almost certainly would have fertility problems. But just because a zinnia can't set seeds is no reason why you shouldn't create and grow it. Triploid flowers are also infertile, but some triploid varieties are produced and grown for that very reason -- their inability to set fertile seeds means that they don't need to be deadheaded. Commercial bananas are all triploids, and the absence of seeds in a banana is considered to be a good thing. Seedless watermelons and tomatoes and such are triploids, and those are considered to be a good thing. So feel free to experiment with your Zaharas in any way that you wish.

ZM


This post was edited by zenman on Sat, May 3, 14 at 11:48


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

ZM,
That is fascinating! So, most of the shorter varieties are in that category and won't cross with the taller sorts. I had an old pack of "Red Cap" zinnias from Seed Saver's Exchange. They typically deal in open pollinated plants and heirloom varieties. I'll need to look back and see what their Latin name is. Despite being quite old, I got nice germination. Again, their only job in my garden is to fill space and provide nectar. I'm hoping the red color will help to attract hummingbirds, also. Thanks again for you depth of knowledge re these great flowers.

Martha


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

ZM -
Ditto what Martha said! Nice to know about the different varieties not being "compatible". And when you say "kid", do you mean you have been gardening since before you reached adulthood? That reminded me of something I hadn't thought about for years. My father was an MD by trade, but sort of a renaissance man for fun - into all sorts of different pursuits, things botanical being one of them. And I, being interested in anything he was interested in, played around with collecting seeds, trying to graft plants and hybridizing (!). Of course, I hadn't a clue what I was doing, and nothing ever came of it. Didn't really get into gardening until 20 years later, when I was re-introduced to it by an amazing 86 year old woman, along with the lightening stroke of reading John Jeavon's Bio-intensive method of gardening. Was thoroughly hooked after that.

Will steer clear of the Zaharas since you said that, though I'm not as attracted to the smaller zinnias anyway. Wouldn't even have bought the whirligigs if you hadn't suggested that I might like to mix those genes into the soup. I'm following your lead. Don't stop suddenly. :)

Martha, if you haven't got some scarlet runner beans planted, by all means, do so. They attract hummingbirds like crazy!

- Alex


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Alex,
Thanks for the suggestion of Scarlet Runner beans. I may try that next year, but I think I'm overextended as far as the number of plants I have to get in the ground this season. Your dad sounds like quite a guy. Do you have kids to carry on the gardening tradition with?

Martha


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hi Alex,

"I'm following your lead. Don't stop suddenly. :)"

Laughing. OK. No sudden stops.

"...when you say "kid", do you mean you have been gardening since before you reached adulthood?"

I grew up on a farm in northwest Oklahoma. We always had some gardening space available. I did some gardening, starting when I was in the Fourth Grade and stopped after the Seventh Grade. I was never very good at it, and never had a lot of time to spend on it. School homework, sandlot baseball, and farm chores took up most of my time. I did grow a few annual flowers and dabbled at grafting zinnias onto marigolds and other zinnias. No success there. Tried to cross zinnias and marigolds. That didn't work either. There was a big gap in my gardening after grade school.

In my adult years I had little time for gardening except a few hours on weekends, and there wasn't much gardening room in our city-lot backyards. It was only after I retired that I had any significant time to garden, but I was very space-limited until fairly recently. I was never serious about gardening until recently when I became interested in breeding zinnias. Even that started rather tentatively, until I got some surprisingly good results from crossing scabiosa flowered zinnias with cactus zinnias and Whirligigs. Suddenly I had some zinnias like nothing available from any commercial seed packet, and I was hooked.

"...along with the lightning stroke of reading John Jeavon's Bio-intensive method of gardening..."

I am not familiar with that. I did do a bit of reading about the Mittleider gardening method, but haven't really learned enough about it to form an opinion. I do some foliar feeding of my zinnias with soluble nutrients, but after all these years I am still pretty much a gardening newbie. My compost piles take too long to rot. Fortunately, zinnias are easy to grow.

ZM


This post was edited by zenman on Mon, May 5, 14 at 1:17


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

That seems so strange to me to hear how little you've gardened in you life, ZM. At least in a relative sense. I'm a Master Gardener, compared to you, LOL. And yet you are far beyond me in the zinnia category. I'm more of a generalist, and only attempt the easiest plants possible. Growing natives is basically encouraging weeds. I do love the composting/soil amending/mulching science. And, while you like to manipulate the genetics to find new combinations, I love the consistency and dependability of traditional favorites. How wonderful that we can enjoy sharing this part of a great hobby.

Martha


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Martha - no kids - just cats. Bad enough - not one of them can hold a trowel, but they've got hole-digging down to an art. And because I had no one younger around to justify my making the space (and time) to build it, I put off until last year the construction of a Sunflower House. What a treat it was! So much so that I have left the "bones" in place for another one this year, with improvements. Here's my forum for last year's house:

http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/teach/msg050809372542.html?42

ZM - farm boy, huh? I always figured I should have been born on a farm, but I suppose, growing up, we made up for it with cross country trips and the occasional weekend in the TX scrubland. And now, of course, we have our little "hobby farm", my sanctuary.

John Jeavons was not the originator of the gardening method he wrote about: he called it French bio-intensive gardening. It's been quite a while since I read his work, but I can tell you how I constructed my beds back then. I dug down a foot, removing that layer of dirt and putting it in a wheelbarrow or wherever. Then I further dug and loosened the soil another foot deep, but leaving it in place since it is subsoil of lesser quality, nutrients-wise. Then I layered compost and manure over that bottom foot of loosened soil, and shoveled the topsoil back into the bed. The result would be a slightly raised bed, 2 ft + deep of soft soil with a cocktail of food sandwiched between the two layers. And then you make sure you never walk across the beds. The results were spectacular, I can tell you. Nowadays I don't have the energy for that kind of work. Instead, John rototills for me. Then I take shovel and rake and shovel the loosened soil from my path areas on to the designated bed areas. Sort of a halfway approximation of the above method, since I do end up with loosened soil which is at least soft for a foot down. I should be giving the beds more organic food, too, but I've been pretty lax the last few years. It's time to put in buckwheat as a cover crop in some of the most used areas again and give the soil a rest.

Martha - yeah, I'm with you on the wildflower/native stuff that doesn't need you to hover over it all the time. I like things that are happy to be where they are, and will - within reason - naturally expand their territory and reseed. Of course, there are many naughty plants out there that want to take more than their share of space. I endeavor to show them the error of their ways. Sometimes I lose. Very sad.

My link doesn't seem to be showing as a link, but the posting was at the Gardening for Kids under the title "Sunflower House".

Well, I'd best get to work.
Later - Alex


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Happy spring everybody! The trees just leafed out...
I saw Profusion Apricot, and according to the picture, it is a lovely color. Is there anyway to make these compatible with "normal" zinnias? Perhaps the Tetra series will work.

This post was edited by Goclon on Tue, May 6, 14 at 18:30


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

OK - I know this isn't zinnias, but this was such a glorious day after a cold windy start, and it was the very first day the plants got carried outside for an hour or two in the late afternoon.
garden - 2014 photo 2014garden_zpsd39c508f.jpg

Here are the peppers and some nicotiana up close:
peppers and nicotiana photo peppersandnicotiana_zps61cd7cae.jpg

A few of the tomatoes and eggplants:
tomatoes and eggplants photo tomatoesandeggplants_zps5249e609.jpg

Cole crops newly transplanted:
cole crops photo colecrops_zps9cf8f211.jpg

Just thought I'd share. :)
- Alex


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hello everyone,

Alex, that's an amazing bunch of plants. Good pictures, too. Are those paper cups that you are using for pots? How do you remove the plant from the cup when you set it out? Did you use your pre-germination technique on all of those plants?

Goclon, the Profusions are also Z. marylandica with 46 chromosomes, so there is no practical way to make them chromosome-compatible with any non-marylandica zinnias. The tetraploid zinnias like State Fair (and Senora) have 48 chromosomes, and "regular" Z. elegans (violacea) have 24 chromosomes. However, Zinnia elegans is capable of any color that Zinnia marylandica has. And much more.

Martha, "Growing natives is basically encouraging weeds." Chuckle. But I should counter that the definition of a weed is "an unwanted plant", so if you want it, it isn't a weed. Before they were "domesticated", most of our ornamentals were once "natives". The manmade species Zinnia marylandica would be an exception to that, and I am sure there are other exceptions as well. Like you, I also don't prefer to grow native plants. So, yes, since we don't want the native plants in our garden, they are by definition, "weeds".

I mentioned before that some of my mutant hybrids reminded me of some Gaillardias, and the Razzle Dazzle variety of Gaillardia is one example. Candy Corn is another such Gaillardia. This is one of my mutant hybrid zinnias that bears a resemblance to those Gaillardias.

That indoor bloom has since "gone to seed" and I have planted several of those seeds in my 3.25-inch square pots, and some are up. I prefer to start my "high value" breeders in this way, to avoid exposing them to cutworms and such in the open garden. When they get big enough to have a good chance of "making it on their own", I will transplant them outdoors. More later.

ZM

This post was edited by zenman on Wed, May 7, 14 at 11:38


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

ZM - thanks for the kind words. No, those are styrofoam drinking cups - some of them have already seen several years use. There's no problem in getting the plants out of them - just turn them upside down and give a whack. But in the odd case that the roots have embedded themselves in the bottom, the cups are cheap enough that I can afford to cut them open to release the plant.

Yes, most of the veggies were pre-germinated first. Just the small stuff were started in the 4 or 6 pack cells: snapdragons, petunias, lobelia, nicotiana, the cole crops, etc. Then transplanted again when they developed first true leaves. The plastic 6 pack cells are all used, too, BTW. Most nurseries toss used unsold cells out. A few different friends have brought me used cell packs over the years - they can be washed and bleached.

You may already be doing this, but I will mention it just in case. You can make simple cutworm collars with thin cardboard or cardstock (cereal boxes or file folders). I cut 1"-2" strips,4-5" long, long enough to make a little fence around the stem, stuck into the soil enough to anchor it. And if it threatens to unroll, I push a little dirt clod or a small stone up against the opening end. I have rarely lost a plant that I've got one of my collars around.

I finally got around to starting some of the zinnias. But I have to say, how could you possibly denude those things? There's hardly anything there to begin with - how do you tell what's seed coat and what's embryo? Well, I wasn't using anything except my reading glasses - maybe I need more magnification? Or do they need to be green so they'll be more plump?

- Alex


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hi Alex,

"I finally got around to starting some of the zinnias. But I have to say, how could you possibly denude those things? There's hardly anything there to begin with - how do you tell what's seed coat and what's embryo? Well, I wasn't using anything except my reading glasses - maybe I need more magnification? Or do they need to be green so they'll be more plump? "

They do need to be green so they'll be more plump. You really don't need to do anything to dry zinnia seeds, because their seed coats are dead and permeable to water. Green seeds have living seed coats that are impermeable to water and if you don't do anything to breach or remove that seed coat, it can take a week or two for the coat to die and become permeable. I use a head mounted magnifier that is considerably more powerful than reading glasses. There is a learning curve for performing surgery on zinnia seeds. Fortunately, you don't need to do that with commercial zinnia seeds.

I don't pre-germinate zinnia seeds, mainly because of the extra time it would take. I might experiment with that when I have some spare time.

I might try some of your cutworm collars on my "high value" breeder zinnia seedlings. I killed two cutworms today, that were exposed when I was raking the seed bed for the Burpeeana Giants. We always seem to have cutworms. They were especially bad in Maine. I activated my bug zapper yesterday, to hopefully kill any cutworm moths that visit the garden to lay eggs.

I planted a bed of 4 rows of Burpeeana Giants today. It may rain tomorrow. More later.

ZM

This post was edited by zenman on Thu, May 8, 14 at 1:51


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

ZM -

They do need to be green so they'll be more plump.

Thanks for clearing that up for me about denuding only the green zinnia seeds. I can see the logic there about that still being living tissue, guarding the embryo until it is ready. I was looking at those shriveled-up dry, dead-looking seeds yesterday and saying to myself "What the hey?!" I'd just finished cutting seed coats off of all my squash and pumpkin seeds, feeling great satisfaction about how now I would know for certain whether the seed was inviable or just couldn't get out of the darn seed coat. And those zinnia seeds looked so pitiful. I have to go on faith that there's something living inside there. :)

And I took a pic just now of one of my eggplants to demonstrate the cutworm collar:

eggplant with cutworm collar photo eggplantwithcutwormcollar_zps5e4382e3.jpg

Not a big piece of cardboard as you can see. When I'm planting, I have my sack of strips cut and waiting, and I install them as I go along. Probably I'll break off that lower leaf - sometimes more than one - and plant deeper. As for the collar, it will be about a third in the ground and the rest sticking above. This seems to be all the barrier needed to discourage the cutworms.

OK - it's going to be an absolutely gorgeous day after a lovely rain yesterday, so I'd best get to work.

- Alex


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hi Alex,

That is a great picture of a cutworm collar, and very helpful. The collar is much larger than I envisioned. Well, gotta get back outside to do some more work before the rain comes here. There were 90-mile-an-hour winds in the Wichita area (we used to live there). It actually blew a bunch of train cars off of the track. I didn't know that was even possible. Hope we don't get any winds like that here. I don't think my low tunnels would be up to that. More later.

ZM


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

We haven't had winds, but heavy rains. I wish we could share with folks out west who have been so dry for so long. I'm betting the farmers are getting frustrated that they can't get the crops planted because the fields are too wet. It's also been unusually cool, so plants are slow to spout. I've got tons of native seedlings in my wintersown containers, but they have just their first set of leaves. They just don't want to move in this chill. But, yesterday it got up to 80F,which was a 30 degree jump. Typical spring weather.

Martha


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Martha - you're not kidding. I know just about everyone in the country has that same saying about wait x-number of minutes and the weather will change (excepting maybe California...), but it seems like it's especially true here. Three days ago there was sleet and freezing temps at night. Yesterday, after an initial 40 degrees in the morning, the temps rose to the high 70's and it was humid as all get out. Could only work outside for short stretches. The good news is the plants are loving it! And for the second day, I was able to haul all the nursery outside for a dose of fresh air and some sunlight. After a couple of hours, I moved them under the newly leafing trees so they wouldn't get burned. When I took them inside several hours later, they were looking great! I swear I could tell they were bigger.

ZM - I guess Kansas is noted for those kind of high winds, tornadoes, etc. You've never experienced that in your area, though?

Last note: I only started the pre-germination of the zinnias and my cucurbits: cukes, squash, pumpkins - day before yesterday. Some of them, including the whirligigs, had already sprouted the next day! Haven't had the chance to put them in pots yet, but will today.

- Alex


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hi Alex,

"I guess Kansas is noted for those kind of high winds, tornadoes, etc. You've never experienced that in your area, though? "

We usually get at least two tornado "watches" every Spring. Maybe every other year that goes to a "warning" and we go to the basement until the weather radio issues an "all clear".

"Some of them, including the whirligigs, had already sprouted the next day!"

With one-day germination on your Whirligigs, you are off to a good start. I'll be growing quite a few Whirligigs this year myself. Sometimes you see a zinnia curiosity, and don't realize at the time that you really like it. That happened with me on this Whirligig specimen a few years ago.

It was unusual enough to prompt me to take a picture of it, but I didn't realize until later that I really liked that unusual flower form. It reminds me of a woman's hair style. I wish I had saved seeds from it, because a strain of zinnias with that flower form in a complete range of colors would be worth creating. I'll be on the lookout for one like that this year, and if I get one, I will treat it as a breeder zinnia. More later.

ZM


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

ZM -

I wish I had saved seeds from it, because a strain of zinnias with that flower form in a complete range of colors would be worth creating.

If I see any, I'll take a pic and send you some seeds. You're more apt to do something useful with them than I am.

I pre-germinated and planted (in cups) some of each of the zinnia varieties I have: the cactus seeds left over from last year, some seeds saved from my own plants back in 2011 which are probably all children of cactus but could be State Fair also (got good germination, BTW), the scabious flowered, Green Envy and the Whirligigs. I'll have only a partial bed's worth of stuff, but it will be fun anyway to see what I can come up with.

Weather is perfect for working outside today, but unfortunately I will be leaving for the shop in a half hour. :(. Maybe when I get home I can do some garden stuff.

- Alex


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

I just enjoyed the perfect Mother's Day weekend. My teenagers and I, plus some friends, drove North to the coast of Lake Michigan to hunt on the beach for Petoskey stones. I'd never done that before, though I've lived here my whole life. Got home last night in time to fall into a deep sleep. Today was spent entirely outdoors raking oak leaves out of the beds, transplanting, a few things, and spraying Round-Up on the noxious invasives. We had steaks and potatoes grilled outside and banana splits for dessert. My kids actually let me take them on a garden tour, since the weather was perfect, and I lectured them on the value inherent in native plants to sustain our shrinking natural habitats. I'm now fresh from my bubble bath and ready to swallow a few ibuprophen and curl up in front of the TV with my hubby. Simple day, but all I need out of life.

Martha


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Martha -
Happy Mother's Day to you! It sounds like you have had a wonderful day. I've only been up north to pick Petoskey stones once myself, and we've been here for close to 25 years. I love that you got to give a garden tour to the kids. :)
- Alex


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Thank-you, Alex.


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hello everyone,

I have gotten several zinnia characteristics from Whirligigs that I liked, and crossed into other zinnias. One of those characteristics was "toothy" petal ends, and this shows the toothy characteristic recombined into a white zinnia.

That bloom was noticeably non-symmetrical, but I found that was OK to me, a little bit to my surprise. Zinnia blooms are traditionally round and symmetrical, but other flowers, such as iris, orchids and others aren't round and symmetrical. So, if I find a zinnia recombinant that appeals to me, but is not symmetrical, I won't hesitate to treat it as a breeder. More later. This is a busy time in the garden.

ZM


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

ZM - I agree with you that symmetry is not necessary for beauty or interest. Actually, in terms of overall garden design, I far prefer a-symmetry. With a handle like Zenman, you must appreciate the zen-ness of asymetry. :)

I like the shape on that white one. You've convinced me about the whirligigs - am looking forward to getting going.


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hi Alex,

"You've convinced me about the whirligigs - am looking forward to getting going."

I wasn't always this enthusiastic about Whirligigs. Years ago I did like their two-toned and three-toned colorations, but quite a few of them had up-rolled petals and back then I considered that to be a bad trait. I was after down-rolled petals, which hide their backsides and form long thin "soda straw" looking petals. I refer to that flower form as "spider flowered" and it is still a goal of my breeding project. However, the spider flowered flowerform has been "on my back burner" for several years, while I have been pursuing more exotic flower forms based on the tubular mutation and the star-tipped mutation.

But despite their up-rolled petals, many of my early Whirligigs caught my eye with their multi-colored petals, like this white-tipped purple-petaled specimen.

That picture was taken at dusk, as twilight was deepening, and dark colors were almost invisible in the low light. Under those lighting conditions, those Whirligigs reminded me of fireworks in the sky. I thought that would be even more effective if the white tips were on dark colored spider flower petals, so I made some crosses between Whirligigs and spider flowered specimens. I didn't get any immediate successes with white tipped spider flowers, but back then I wasn't so attuned to waiting until the F2 generation to look for your recombined desirable traits. I am now very conscious of the effectiveness of the F2 generation, and I will renew my quest for bicolor and tricolor spider flowers this year. And I no longer consider up-rolled petals to be a bad thing. JG's Extreme Rolls demonstrate that the uprolled petal can be a very good thing. I will continue to look for that flowerform in my recombinants. More later.

ZM


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

ZM -
Some confusion here - are these straight-from-the-packet whirligigs or one of your first generation crosses?

Frost this morning, BTW. Not out of winter here yet...
- Alex


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hi Alex,

We had a Frost Advisory here night-before-last. I threw some agricultural fabric over my Burpeeana Giants seedbeds. I think everything came through OK, but my beds are still covered.

"...are these straight-from-the-packet whirligigs or one of your first generation crosses? "

Those in that last picture were straight from the packet. If you grow very many Whirligigs you will get some unusual straight-from-the-packet specimens that differ significantly from the packet pictures or catalog pictures. This was also a straight-from-the-packet Whirligig.

And this next one was also straight from the packet. Actually, I haven't done a lot of cross-pollinating between different Whirligigs, and I should do some of that. F1 Whirligig hybrids could be good, and the F2's could be even better.

I think I have some more interesting Whirligig pictures somewhere that I will post later. If you had a lot of Whirligigs you wouldn't need to do any cross-pollinating. You could just go out and find the start of several new strains of zinnias. More later. Hopefully we have now had our last threat of Frost for the season here in Kansas.

ZM


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

ZM - there was frost as predicted, so I'm inclined to believe there will be frost again as forecasted for tomorrow morning. Nothing was damaged, but I haven't put out anything yet that can't take it.

I'll try to keep a comprehensive photo diary of my zinnias - all part of the fun!

- Alex


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hi Alex,

We'll be looking forward to your zinnias and your pictures of them. My indoors zinnias have "gone to seed", except for a few experimental seedlings. I will probably be doing some indoor experimentation all Spring and Summer because, when it comes time to do my indoor gardening this coming Winter, I hope to be a "smarter" gardener than I was this last Winter. And it will be weeks before I have anything blooming outdoors. My gardening experiments are very interesting to me, because there is so much to discover and learn.

Here are a few more pictures of out-of-the-packet Whirligigs. This first one is purple with white tips.

One thing rather subtle about that zinnia is that the back sides of the petals seem to be the same color as the front sides. Actually, that is a fairly rare trait in zinnias, and something worth taking note of and selecting for. Up-rolled petals show a significant part of their back sides, and my tubular petaled types show mostly "backside", since the outside of the tube is actually the back side of the petal. JackieR, and to a lesser extent myself, have occasionally had colored petals with white back sides. That is also a very interesting trait to me. This next out-of-packet Whirligig is fully double.

I like fully double zinnias, but some zinnias can look good with a much smaller number of petals.

In a future message I will show some more examples of some unusual specimens of Whirligigs that came right out of the packet. I am looking forward to my Whirligigs, and other zinnias, that will be blooming in a few weeks in my outdoors garden. More later.

ZM


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Of these, I like the last one best. As I've mentioned before, I prefer the semi-double look to the fully double effect. There doesn't seem to be much of a standardization to the whirligigs. What is usually presented as the characteristics of a whirligig?
- Alex


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hi Alex,

"There doesn't seem to be much of a standardization to the whirligigs. What is usually presented as the characteristics of a whirligig?"

There isn't much standardization with the Whirligigs, because different seed growers produce from their own fields, and each zinnia field produces, in effect, a strain of zinnias unique to that field. Each seed field has a large population of different zinnias, and the bees are pollinating and cross-pollinating within that field. The seed producers in different countries are affected by different local regulations and labor costs, which determines how much or how little "rogueing" is done in the field.

That is why, if you are trying to get a good variation within a zinnia variety, it is a good idea to procure your zinnia seeds from more than source. The Whirligigs from Park's are described and pictured quite differently from the Whirligigs at Stokes. But the different Whirligig sources are in agreement that the petals will have more than one color on a petal. More later. Today looks like a good day to plant some more zinnia seeds outdoors.

ZM
(not associated with any product or vendor mentioned or linked)

This post was edited by zenman on Mon, May 19, 14 at 12:18


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

ZM -
Hope your planting was successful. I missed out on a whole day of gorgeous weather because we had our bi-annual dentist appt. out of town. Sigh...
- Alex


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hi Alex,

It turned out to be too windy to plant zinnia seeds yesterday, but I did get a seed bed prepared and furrowed, ready for planting today. I spent yesterday weeding my existing beds, and being a bit lazy. The recent rains brought up a lot of little grass seedlings and I "shaved them off" with a sharp hoe. I spent some time sharpening the hoe.

On the subject of unconventional Whirligig specimens, I have seen several examples of a marbled or streaked coloration, like this one.

This is another example of the marbled coloration in Whirligigs. This marbling is different from the stripes and specks of broken color in the Peppermint type of zinnias. This effect is more "blended".

I have come to not like the speckled look of the commercial Peppermints and such, because they remind me of the spots you get with Measles or Chicken Pox. Some Tulips have a similar broken color effect, which was originally caused by a virus, but now has been converted to simply genetic. I had originally intended to grow improved Peppermints and cross them with Spider flowered zinnias, but then I got this accidental result from a scabious recombinant, to my surprise.

I didn't like it that the Peppermint specks were actually acting like a communicable disease in my zinnia patch, and I decided to quit growing them and using them, or letting the bees use them. But the marbled look of the Whirligig variants is OK by me, and I will probably continue to treat them as a specialized breeder. I wouldn't want my whole zinnia garden to be marbled, but for me that look "has its place."

I get a percentage of zinnias in the Whirligigs that are just "defective", like this one:

I cull and discard specimens like that one. That effect sometimes appears in a more normal looking Whirligig that I permit, but sometimes it looks so distorted that I immediately pull up the zinnia. Well, I am looking forward to my gardening today. More later.

ZM


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

ZM - the marbling looks good, but the speckles are just wrong! :)
And once again, I am going to miss out on another decent day outside, because we have an appt out of town. :(
- Alex


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hello again everybody. Boy, this thread has really grown since I last posted.

ZM:
"Just out of curiosity, are there any particular kinds of bugs that cause problems in your Missouri zinnias?"

No, none that cause catastrophic damage that I've encountered. A few bugs, like army worms, cut worms and grasshoppers cause mostly aesthetic problems. Over the few years I've been growing them (around 6 or 7 years now), I have never had a zinnia damaged irreparably by bugs.

I mentioned before that my zinnias were starting to bloom. It takes a long time from when you first notice the bloom to when they're almost fully open. Especially long if you're impatient. So just to recap: I planted these in plastic trays with generic potting mix, had them underneath a fluorescent light for a couple weeks, and then gradually moved them outside. They formed blooms, and I moved them into the ground. I put a heavy "straw" mulch around them, which works really well for me to hold in moisture and keep weeds down. By "straw" mulch, I mean that it is grass clippings composted in a heap, turned a couple times, and allowed to bake in place for a couple months before I moved it.

A few days ago we had an insane record late frost twice. I think the last time it frosted this late was about 1890 or something. Wow. Anyways, I covered all of my vegetables and of course the zinnias with a bucket and a log to hold them down. Then in the morning after the frost advisory was over, I set the buckets aside to put them back that evening. The zinnias didn't much appreciate the effort, but at least they're alive.



I was a little disappointed by the one on the right, because it has a very generic shape, but then I realized the trait that this one inherited: the color. That is definitely an unusually deep pink color, reminiscent of a zinnia I collected seed from last year:

Of course, the new zinnia isn't that pink, so its seeds will be headed to the junk seed envelope.

The one on the left is still opening, and I'm pretty sure it will be a beautiful zinnia in a couple weeks.

Still though, neither of these quite match what I'm looking for in this new generation. The good news is that there is still plenty of time, space, and seeds to get many more zinnias going. Right now I have two seed trays that need moved soon, and some plans to start about 30 or 40 more zinnias. If anyone has been following my posts since these two were seeds themselves, I will definitely post updates about pruning, and seed collecting/storage processes and ideas.

ZM, I really enjoy your pictures. It's funny that almost all of my zinnias are the kind you would discard, but I really like them. They just seem very traditional and recognizable as a zinnia to me, and I guess that's something I've sort of encouraged in my seed selections. I was thinking about it the other day, and if I had a very specific type of flower that I really enjoyed, I could collect those seeds individually and breed for exact matches through the generations until I ended up with a stable line of traits. That line could be my very own zinnia - something that you see and instantly recognize as one of those zinnias. That would definitely be cool, and I will be on the look out for a potential start to that breeding process.


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Ah, you warmer zoned people - I envy you, with your plants already in the ground. Mine still sit in their little pots, though they have graduated to full day hardening-off status.
I'd just like to know why it is that when the weather turns nice, that too many different jobs pile up at the same time, forcing me to put the gardening on hold?

- Alex


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hi Telescody,

" It's funny that almost all of my zinnias are the kind you would discard, but I really like them."

You have every right to like them. There is no absolute good or bad in determining what is more or less ornamental. Personal tastes and preferences vary from one person to another. I breed my zinnias purely to please myself and you should endeavor to please yourself as well. My tastes in zinnias have changed and evolved, and they very well may change in the future.

"They just seem very traditional and recognizable as a zinnia to me, and I guess that's something I've sort of encouraged in my seed selections."

What is recognizable as a zinnia has changed over the years. Zinnias were originally small purple wildflowers in Mexico, and those original zinnias would ironically probably not be recognized as zinnias today. Plant breeders have worked wonders in transforming that wild flower into the zinnias we have today.

" I was thinking about it the other day, and if I had a very specific type of flower that I really enjoyed, I could collect those seeds individually and breed for exact matches through the generations until I ended up with a stable line of traits. That line could be my very own zinnia - something that you see and instantly recognize as one of those zinnias. That would definitely be cool, and I will be on the look out for a potential start to that breeding process."

I think that is a very good strategy, to be on the lookout for a zinnia that could be the start for your breeding process. This scabious recombinant zinnia had somewhat wider petals than is usual with zinnias. It was not something that I was "aiming for."

If you look at it with your eyes a bit unfocused, or just squint your eyes to blur the view a bit, it is actually somewhat reminiscent of a rose. (As with my other pictures in this thread, you can click on the picture to open a bigger version of it, and the F11 key can give that picture exclusive use of your screen. And then the F11 key can then restore the browser tabs to let you close that picture and come back here.) Who knows where it might lead to select for ever wider petals in a zinnia? I would never have planned to breed for rose-flowered zinnias, but that might be a possibility.

I hope you do find that very specific type of flower that you really enjoy as the basis for a zinnia breeding project. Both of my "game changing" mutants came from a commercial seed packet. And they were completely unexpected surprises.

ZM



 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Just spent the day shoveling the beds in the new area that's been under tarps for the last year and a half. Am exhausted, and the job's not quite done yet. Will take a pic when I'm finished. The soil is wonderful - soft and grass-free. Can't wait to actually plant in it. Guess the frost is done for the year - yippee! Oh, and the zinnias I started are a couple of inches high: cactus, scabious, Green Envy and Whirligigs.


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Isn't that a wonderful feeling? To have a wide-open bed of rich soil just waiting to receive little plants that will be transformed into gorgeous flowers right before your eyes? Sounds corny, but anticipation is half the fun in gardening. Definitely post pictures of before, during and after, please.

Martha


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

You got it right, Martha! Finished the beds today, and planted some seeds: beans, carrots and turnips. Tomorrow the real fun begins. Next step is building the tomato trellis. Then...I get to plant! :) I'll take a pic...
- Alex


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Martha - Here are a couple of pics of the new beds. The two on the left are 30 ft x 3 ft; the two on the right are 45 ft x 3 ft. The one in the middle I know is hard to tell what's up, but that's a wading pool that I'm putting in for one of the cats who likes to walk in water. Weird, but she does. Without the water, the whole thing looks pretty flat, but at the deep end it will be around 18" I think. It will have plants around it to hide the edge and in it as well, and slopes up gradually in the front. The trellis is for tomatoes, which I'll be planting tomorrow. Could only get the cole crops in today, though I didn't get a pic of that. Oh, and so this is zinnia-related, I'll add that the zinnia bed is going to be in back of that rhubarb plant that's at the back of the pool area.
- Alex
Samhain's pool in the new beds photo newgardenareawithtomatotrellisandSamhainspool_edited-1_zps5a30af78.jpg

Tomato trellis in the new beds photo newgardenareawithtomatotrellis_edited-1_zpsaecf7e7a.jpg


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hello everyone!

I got my zinnias planted by May 15 or so at a time when it was somewhat dry in central Indiana. This year, I have planted Benary, cactus, Peruvian, Persian Carpet, scabious, whirligigs, and variations of those from various companies. Then, I have planted seeds I have saved from previous years, whose plants always for me are the most anticipated! I had a large number of seeds from 2007-2009 that went in, and a number from last year, including several hundred progeny of my extreme roll flowers. Now is a busy time with weeding! Here is the main plot, as it looks today:
May 30 002

Some of you have huge plots, and I really look forward to seeing what you get! ZM, you have started early, so your plants must be pretty big by now! You will start getting flowers soon! For me, it will be as usual, around the start of July.

JG


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hi JG,

Your main plot looks quite picturesque. My low tunnels produced mainly Lambs Quarter weeds with a few crowded zinnias that survived here and there. I am not looking toward them for any important zinnia blooms this year. They had mostly seed-packet Whirligigs and some Burpeeanas. Next year I will modify the low tunnels to make weekly weed-and-feed care of the seedlings feasible. At the moment I am thinking of many individual fabric flaps instead of one long stretch of fabric. I'll think of something to insure that I grow zinnias in the tunnels, and not weeds.

I started planting in-ground the first week of May and have been making succession plantings every week. Incidentally, your main-plot zinnias appear to be about as far along as my first-week-of-May zinnias.

I am planting most of my old seed-packet zinnia seeds this year for a couple of reasons. Those seeds aren't getting any younger, and I want to have a good supply of reasonable quality female blooms to receive any pollen from any exotic flower form recombinants that might appear. The tubular petals and star-pointed petals seem to be recessive, so the F1 hybrids that I create from them most likely won't have remarkable flower forms. But the F2's from those crosses will have various recombinant combinations, and I will have a chance of recovering exotic flower forms in an extended color range, bigger blooms, and with improved plants. At least, that is the plan.

I am quite excited about the flower form that I pictured back on Wed, May 7, 14 at 9:07, the "Razzle Dazzle" form. One of my aims is to make that a strain of zinnias in a complete range of colors and bigger blooms. I will be looking for more examples of them this year and crossing them with Burpeeana Giants and other more conventional zinnias, to give them some more genes to recombine with.

It's going to be a fun zinnia year. I am looking forward very much to see what you get this year. Your extreme rolled petals are a sight to behold. And I am tantalized by the petals with white backsides.

ZM


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hi everyone,

I have mentioned before that Whirligigs are highly variable, in that a packet of Whirligig seeds is likely to produce specimens like the seed packet picture or catalog picture, but they also produce some specimens that differ from the pictures. This is one that seemed a bit defective, although I left it for the butterflies.

It had some streaking, but the flower seemed misshapen. This next one was a cull because it was single.

It was "interesting" because its petals were up-curved so that from the side it had the approximate silhouette of a tulip. But I have seen other better looking zinnias whose blooms were shaped somewhat like a tulip. It is not unusual for Whirligigs to have uprolled petals.

They don't have nearly as much uproll as Jackie's extreme rolls, nor are their petals as long. But they can be rather attractive, with a "different" look from most zinnias.

There have been other zinnia varieties that were derived from the same interspecific crosses that produced the Whirligigs. Before the Whirligigs there were the Merry Go Rounds and Zig Zags, and before them, the Navajos. I have grown them all in the past, but the Whirligigs seem to be more interesting than their predecessors.

ZM


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hello, all -
After a week's worth of grueling effort in the hot sun (though, thank you, Powers that Be, for sun as opposed to frost), the garden is officially in! Here are a few pics of the result.
Cole crops in the foreground, Samhain's (one of our cats)wading pool, and the tomato trellis behind that. Peppers, eggplants and squash are behind the tomato trellis.
 photo gardenandSamhainspool_zpsec98b07c.jpg

Closer pic of Samhain's pool. The water plants used to be in an old bathtub in the old garden area. They were still there, so I moved them over. Think I'll go find a water lily at Lowe's, though, to be more scenic. The cat, BTW, has already waded into the edge of the pool.
 photo Samhainspool_zps29c79b6a.jpg

The zinnia bed with Spock, one of the feral helpers. So far I've only had to replace three plants due to their "help". Fortunately, I always grow spares. I know it's not alot of zinnias, but it will be enough for me to play with, considering I have to keep up the rest of the garden. Hope I haven't planted them too close together. Oh, and these pics don't represent the whole space I have planted... :)
Hey, JG - I've been hearing about you and the extreme rolls. Am really looking forward to whatever comes next. Zenman, my whirligigs are in place and ready for action. Let the games begin!
- Alex
 photo zinniabedandhelper_zpsd3b1d36b.jpg


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Those beds make me feel like a huge underachiever. Talk about garden envy. Though, actually, I'm a minimalist when it comes to bed preparation. I've heard that soil structure has value, so I take the no-till philosophy to it's ultimate end. I dig only to make a hole large enough to plant into. Otherwise, I use mulches to prevent weeds and top dress with compost to enrich the soil. It fits well with my lazy lifestyle--or maybe I could call it my busy lifestyle. Anyway, huge complements on the beautiful beds and paths. Your plants will be very happy there.

Martha


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Docmom - if you're referring to my beds, you have to understand that my garden is sanctuary, therapy, exercise, food, and artistic expression to me. So, if I go a little overboard, it's no reflection on anyone but me! And I am totally behind the whole minimalist gardening idea - except for the fact that some wiseguy planted canary grass on this property upteen decades ago, which is some kind of demon grass from the nether regions that took a year and a half of being under tarps to kill. :) If I could just throw a little hay on it and make it behave, I would. In fact, I've thrown ALOT of hay on it over the years...and newspapers, and that expensive black mesh stuff that's supposed to keep down the weeds, and carpet (NEVER use carpet - big mistake), and just about anything else that I could think of. The tarps, which were industrial grade, did the job. We'll see how long we can keep the grass out. In the meantime, I think we're going to put the tarps down in another area I'd like to clear...
- Alex


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Well, you've accomplished a miracle. I would get some mulch ready to throw onto those beds as soon as your plants get to any size. Unless you are able to keep at them with a hoe or other weeding implement. It would be a tragedy for any weeds to regain a foothold. I look forward to progress pictures.

Martha


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Martha - yup! Pretty soon we'll be dismantling the feral cats' winter fortress which is composed of about 30 straw bales built around their individual shelters. All that lovely weathered straw will get put down in the garden. Next fall we'll buy fresh bales for the colony's shelter, which in turn will get second use in the garden, and on and on. I love Michigan at this time of the year - everything is so lush and green!
- Alex


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hello!

We've been getting lots of rain during these last three days..4.5 inches and counting. The soil was so dry, much of the water was soaked up very quickly, so on our property, there is very little flooding. The zinnias loved it, too, even though they are great for hanging on during dry spells. I've seldom seen a zinnia wilt, even during the drought. But, during these last rainy days, they have increased by size at least three times. This is a great time for transplanting, too. With several days of cloudy wet weather, you can transplant almost anything. I have lots of volunteer sunflowers,and have been moving them around.

ZM, I really like your tubular blooms, so hope you have a few to show this year! I had some last summer, but not nearly so completely tubular as yours. I have some plants going from those seeds...maybe 15-20. If this trait is a Mendelian recessive, I'm hoping to see at least a few tubulars, as I tried to self them last year--but there may have been some unplanned crosses with other flowers in the gardens.

Your 'Razzle Dazzle' zinnia is an interesting tubular display! It looks like a modification of the scabious form, without guard petals. Do those tubular petals shed pollen where they are yellow?

Your Whirligig photos show some good examples. Those zinnias are always so much fun to grow, because there are always some surprises among them! I always make sure to grow some every year, both for themselves and for any genes they may contribute to the other zinnias for next year's seeds.

Love the photos of your garden, Alex! That bed of rhubarb is something...don't know if I've ever seen rhubarb flowers! Do you plant the seeds? I like the way you create your raised beds..they are functional, and also, that type of raised bed can be changed in configuration from one year/season to the next. I have very modified forms of those types of beds in one of my zinnia plots that is lower, and which tends to collect a lot of rain when there are downpours, and where the plants would ordinarily get too much water. I am mulching the valleys currently with old daffodil foliage...some say that fresher leaves may make the soil N-deficient, but I have never had that problem with zinnia seedlings. I also often use old hay from the previous winter, and probably soon will.

I see you also cater to your cats! I am very thankful for our cat Betty. She frequents my garden as if she were a gardener in her past life. I know that she discourages a lot of creatures who may otherwise do damage to the plants there. I also add some form of elevated pool to my garden, not for Betty, but for the birds and insects when it gets dry..my pools are very small, often in the form of an old flying saucer or old birdbath dish. Looking forward to seeing your Whirligigs!

Martha, I like to plant for the wildlife here, too. I have a small butterfly garden with a lot of natives to complement my zinnia patches. Have some New England aster, prairie sunflower, turtle head, royal catchfly, black-eyed susan, and others. Also cup plants....wow, are those ever invasive, but I love them when it gets dry as they collect water in their "cups." What zinnias are you planting? I think you mentioned some of the Profusions earlier on...

Love these wet days when things can get caught up!

JG, aka Jackie


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hey, Jackie -
Yeah, after our long, mean winter, Mother Nature suddenly became benevolent to flora and fauna, alternately shining and showering to speed growth. Though we have had a bit more of sun than showers, so I will need to set the sprinkler today.

The rhubarb has been in that spot for years now, bought originally as a small plant. When we put down the tarps, we left it a little window to grow through. I am going to have to keep an eye on the grass that was growing with it through the "window". To be honest, I've hardly done much with it over the years, since the stalks - of this plant at least - never get that lovely cherry red that you see in pics. And since they always tell you every other part of the rhubarb is poisonous, I've always felt a bit nervous. :) And those blooms, which I think are attractive when they're fresh, really smell unpleasant! I'll be cutting them down soon as they're almost spent.

Yes, the raised beds get re-dug every year after tilling. As I was saying to Martha, if we didn't have so much trouble with the particular grasses we have here, I'd let them be permanent and just do the "Ruth Stout No-Dig Method". My perennial beds are permanent, but I have to constantly be messing with them or it's heck to pay! I really don't like that kind of maintenance - fresh newly tilled beds are better - but the perennials tend to frown on getting dug up and moved around much. :)

On the subject of Nitrogen leaching by fresh cuttings - my understanding is that if they are laid down on the surface - not mixed into the soil - then any negative effect on the plants is minimal. One of the culprits spoken of most often is fresh sawdust, but then being particulate in form, it more easily gets mixed down into the soil around the plant roots - hence the problem with n-leaching. I think that's another Ruth Stout thing - she did what she called sheet composting, in which she would layer fresh cuttings and kitchen debris directly under the straw mulch. It would break down slowly, but since it wasn't touching the roots, it didn't take their nitrogen.

Yes, we have indoor cats who are leash-trained (Samhain is one of these, though she was originally feral), but we also care for an outside colony of ferals, all of whom have been spayed or neutered (Spock is the youngest of these). Gradually, we are stopping the endless cycle of kittens in our area, these descendants of descendants of the original barn cats who were brought here long ago to work on the farms, and then left to go wild when the farms ceased to be. They brought me a mole for a late Mother's Day present, bless their little hearts! :)

What are cup plants? Sounds interesting.

- Alex


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hi Jackie,

"Your 'Razzle Dazzle' zinnia is an interesting tubular display! It looks like a modification of the scabious form, without guard petals. Do those tubular petals shed pollen where they are yellow?"

The yellow borders aren't "fuzzy" and are just a bi-coloration of the "petals", and there is no pollen associated with those borders. There is, however, an anther bundle in the base of the trumpet-petals, and a stigma which gets self-pollinated by the anther bundle. Because of the functional anther bundle, these "Razzle Dazzle" specimens are completely different from most of my tubular specimens. And they have the "star petaled" mutant as one parent. The "star petaled" genes seem to interact in various ways when crossed with other zinnias. Interesting.

The Razzle Dazzle flower form is, as you say, functionally equivalent to a Scabious zinnia without guard petals, with the difference that the "florets" are very much longer than those in the scabiosa flowered zinnias. There seems to be quite a bit of genetic complexity in these tubular/star flowerforms, and this is going to be an interesting year growing these outside. I plan to do a lot more cross-pollination with these "exotic" specimens, and I am growing a lot of "conventional" zinnias to receive "exotic" pollen. I want to broaden my exotic gene pool with respect to more colors and bigger flowers. More later.

ZM


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Jackie,
You asked which zinnia I'm growing. I have used mostly saved seeds from last year. So, I have Zahara Starlight Rose, Purple Prince (or something Rose that looks nearly the same), Profusion Cherry something, an old package of red, button shaped who's name I can't remember.

I haven't been able to take advantage of the weather, since my partner chose to take a two week vacation these last weeks. I also have teenagers finishing up their year, so carting them to and from concerts and tournaments and graduation parties. Plus, my daughter does tech assistance for any activity going on at the auditorium, so I need to drive her back and forth. Thankfully, she can get her license in the next month or so. My plan is to plant zinnias this weekend. I have them sprouted in jugs in the driveway.

Alex,
Where are you in Michigan again? I would love to take a road trip to meet you and see your garden in person. I'm so proud of what you've done for the feral cats. Re your rhubarb, some varieties don't get the red stalks. As long as you pick them as new stalks in spring, they will have the same flavor as the red varieties. I think it is the leaves and roots that can be poisonous. The stalks just become tougher as they mature, so aren't as pleasant to eat. I bet you could still pick a few smaller sprouts and try a rhubarb sauce or pie. I've had delicious, moist rhubarb bread that is really more like rhubarb cake. My sister has a similar, or even larger patch, and she barely uses hers, either.

Happy growing.

Martha


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Martha - we're in the middle of MI in Mecosta - or, rather, the bookshop is; we live not far from there. The garden's not ready for viewing at this point, but if you're in to having a roadtrip and you like books, you can check our hours on the net. Just google Mecosta + books and you'll find us. I have to ask - you don't happen to have two sons by the name of Stephen and David, do you? If so, then you already know me.
- Alex


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Martha - just had my question answered. Out of the blue, the other doctor mom called to see what our hours were going to be when she and the boys drive in from Ann Arbor. :)
- Alex


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Nope. I have a son and a daughter. So, I don't think I do know you, yet. At least not that I know of.

Martha


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hey ZM, remember when I told you that we didn't have any major zinnia pests in Missouri?

Haha! I caught this little guy red ... er, white... handed!

Alright, truth be told, I broke that stem off on accident when I tried to literally pinch off a zinnia bloom. So the bunny is mostly innocent. I don't think he'd eat the zinnias otherwise, but dang, he's so cute!
I was splitting firewood this morning and he jumped out and watched me split some wood. He's very playful. I petted him a few times and gave him a piece of clover.

There are four white bunnies that were born this spring after two big white rabbits overwintered here. Quite a pain, because I had to put up a fence around the vegetable beds and they did eat some of my zinnia seedlings (but that was my fault). They don't care much for old plants, so I won't bother putting a fence around the zinnias - but I need to find a new spot to plant my other zinnia seedlings. One where the bunnies won't nibble on them. Very nice cool weather today! I'm off to do some more gardening fun.


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Telescody - wow, look at that! Where did they come from? Some neighbor breeding white rabbits in your area? Is there a medical research facility just over the hill? Were any of them wearing waistcoats and carrying watches, muttering something about being late? :)


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hi all!

Telescody, better not follow that bunny into a hole! He looks so out of place there! We also have some tame/half tame bunnies running loose from one of the neighbors..the ones here have a Himalayan pattern of white with black feet, nose, and ears. They don't seem to like the zinnias, but they do love the squash seedlings, so I have had to protect them.

Martha,you'll have a nice variety of zinnias this year. It seems you have a very busy life these days! When the kids go off to school, you will miss a lot of the activity! I have some zinnias actually coming up from last year. I am really surprised, considering the very long and cold winter. They look to be either Zinnia haageana or marylandica. I will know soon!

ZM, are you going to grow any of your Shaggy Dog type of zinnias this year? Just wondering! I thought those were nice! We've had a lot of warm temperatures and rain this spring. I am thinking that I will have zinnia flowers before the end of this month--early for me!

Alex, this was a weeding day again for me. Hopefully, things will slow down soon, so I can look forward to seeing the flowers. You asked what the cup plant looks like. Here is one of the plants I have
--the big one behind the yellow flowers:

.

Here is the area where the leaves attach to the stem and form the "cups":

.

Jackie


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Jackie - it's gorgeous! Never heard of it, though I see from looking online that it grows here. Sort of a standard sunflower-y type flower. You are same zone as I am, so it would grow for me. But you say it's invasive, so - never mind! Got enough to worry about as it is.
Don't know about you guys, but things are growing like gang-busters here. Here are a few up to date pics of the pond and the little perennial garden area. The first one is my water-loving cat, Samhain, out for her leash walk. None of the others are this fascinated with water.
- Alex

 photo Samhainatthewadingpool_zpsf04db008.jpg

 photo irisandpoppies_zpsca2f2312.jpg

iris-lupine-chives photo stump-yellowiris-chives_zpsbb48974f.jpg


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Samhain10, I have no clue where they came from, but even the mother and father rabbit were very tame. Sadly, the father bunny died one day and called it quits in our drive way when no one was around - no blood or obvious signs of what caused him to die... maybe some disease, or illness? Shortly after that, the mother started carrying grass across the yard (which is a very odd sight indeed). Then a couple weeks later, I'm out watering some flowers when I glance over to see four white baby bunnies hopping around.

Haven't seen the mother rabbit around for at least a month now, I can only assume that someone or something ate her.
Also, you have a very very pretty garden and pond. And cat.

JG, interesting that we both seem to have careless neighbors. I have seen a few of those cup plants growing wild around here. My favorite native flower so far has been the tickseed sunflowers. We have some small ones that grow a couple feet tall in the field, and some tall ones along the edges that grow to about 6' and have large flowers. They only show up when summer is almost over, and the heat is unbearable.

Anyways, I have a couple trays of zinnias germinating right now. I had some 30 plants with their first true leaves, but I left them in reach of the bunnies, and so they got nibbled off at the ground. That's a little discouraging, but there's still hope.


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

There is no denying that little guy is severely cute. Got to be another escapee, though, of course albinism does spring up spontaneously in nature. However, that you had both a white male and female show up together makes the natural theory rather less likely. And it could be the male died of old age - rabbits don't have long lifespans even barring misadventure. About like a cat: kept inside, they may live 10-20 years, but outside in the elements without all the extra care, considerably less. Which is going to be the case with some of our ferals if they don't stop digging up my plants...:)
- Alex


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hi everyone,

I am excited that the first two of my outdoor zinnias have bloomed out. This is the first one.

And this is the second one. They have the same parent, so they are somewhat similar.

That last one has a reasonably good approximation of the Razzle Dazzle flower form. Both of them combine tubular-petaled and star-petaled genetics.

We had heavy cloud cover from an ending rain when I took those pictures this morning, so the colors are rather muted. I am pleased that the backside (outside) of the petals is reasonably white. Now that we are getting some broken sunshine, those whites appear much lighter. I've got a lot of weeding to do, so more later.

ZM


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hi Telescody,

"Anyways, I have a couple trays of zinnias germinating right now. I had some 30 plants with their first true leaves, but I left them in reach of the bunnies, and so they got nibbled off at the ground. That's a little discouraging, but there's still hope."

I'm indoors for a brief break from my garden weeding, so I don't have time right now to post pictures, but there is a possible solution to your rabbit/zinnias problem. We use 2-foot chicken wire to keep our rabbits out of selected parts of our vegetable garden (our rabbits love kohlrabi) and I use it to keep our guineas out of my zinnia seedbeds.

We use 2-foot high chicken wire held in place by a few posts which consist of 40-inch pieces of rebar. We get the rebar at Home Depot, although I am sure that other home stores and such have it. We pay about $5.65 plus tax for a standard 10-foot piece of 1/2-inch rebar at our nearest Home Depot (a little over 20 miles away). For the little 2-foot chicken wire fence posts, we cut the 10-foot (120 inches) rebar into three 40-inch pieces. My son uses 1-inch mesh chicken wire, but I use 2-inch mesh chicken wire because it costs about half as much (a little over $20 for a 150-foot roll). The 2-inch mesh is adequate for me, and is a little easier to work with.

For other uses of rebar, I cut it into 4 pieces for row markers, and into 2 pieces for tall 60-inch border markers. I like rebar because I can drive it with a hand sledge into our hard and/or rocky subsoil.

It is surprising that the 2-foot chicken wire works at all, because you would think that a rabbit could easily jump over it or that a guinea could easily fly over it. For some reason, they don't, or at least they go over it very rarely. And I can easily step over it, so it isn't inconvenient for me. Chicken wire could be a humane way of keeping your bunnies out of your zinnia seedlings. But I am sure there are other solutions. More later. The weeds are calling me.

ZM
(not associated with any product or vendor mentioned or linked)


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hello again, Telescody,

Well, I'm done weeding for today. Plenty more weeds available tomorrow. This is a picture of a couple of beds of Burpeeana Giants "protected" by 2-foot 2-inch mesh chicken wire.

You can attach it easily to the rebar posts in a variety of ways. Here I used just a short length of scrap insulated copper wire.

You could use nearly anything to attach the chicken wire to the post, or you could just thread the post through the wire, going on alternate sides of the hexagons. This is one of my partly used rolls of 2-foot chicken wire.

The wire itself is a relatively thin 20-gauge galvanized steel, so a roll of it doesn't weigh much. My rolls came secured with a pigtail of single wire wrapped repeatedly around the roll at the midsection. They did overkill with how much wire they used for that, but I unwound it and saved the single strand. You never know when you will find use for a piece of wire. I have several more seedbeds of zinnias that I plan to protect with a 2-foot chicken wire fence. I'll be sawing the three rebars that we have onhand into 40-inch posts tomorrow. I have a good hacksaw that I use for that. And I think we will buy a few more rebars in case we need more posts. If you have questions about any of this, feel free to ask.

ZM


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

ZM - once again, what I see when I look at these pics, is the relatively grass-free areas (sigh). What a pleasure that must be to work with.

As for the rabbit fencing - I admit to surprise that it doesn't need to be higher - cool. The point is moot for us here, though, as we have few rabbits foolish enough to show a whisker in this yard (the cats), but we do have deer moving through constantly, rather like a herd of cows. Thus, the 8 ft fencing around the corral-garden.

My zinnias are already 4-6" high! The anticipation mounts...

- Alex


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hi Alex,

" ...what I see when I look at these pics, is the relatively grass-free areas (sigh). What a pleasure that must be to work with. "

Oh, I could show you grass. I could show you Lambs Quarter, Pig Weed, Nut Grass, native plants I don't even know the name of. You name it, I've got it. Weeding, as Ford would say, is Job One for me. Job Two is to finish planting my zinnia seed beds this month.

You can plant a Fall crop of zinnias in July, and I have even planted zinnias as late as August (they do bloom in about 6 weeks and the shorter days of Fall actually accelerate that), but I am skipping the Fall crop this year, to focus on pollinating and gathering green seeds and planting them, or their embryos, indoors for an early start on my indoor zinnia garden.

"My zinnias are already 4-6" high! The anticipation mounts... "

Zinnias are fast growers. You can speed that up with a foliar feeding of something like MiracleGro. My zinnias seem to respond very well to the MiracleGro Tomato Food formula, possibly because of its extra magnesium (a component of chlorophyll). MiracleGro also has a Blooming Formula with extra phosphorous, and I have noted that plants do indeed need extra phosphorous to make blooms and seeds.

As kids on the farm, we participated in what we called "Plant Races", in which we each transplanted an identical plant and then saw who could get their plant to grow the fastest. No holds barred. You could breathe carbon dioxide on the plant and talk to it or sing, prey, threaten it, or whatever while "applying" the carbon dioxide. We used conventional foliar feeding (that was before Miracle-Gro, but there was a foliar feeding product available called RapidGro), and unconventional organic nutrition in addition to the usual inorganic nutrition. I remember "dissolving" some egg whites in water and applying that. A comic book had featured a story about a villain who accelerated plant growth with agar agar and, lacking that, I tried the egg white. That was inconclusive.

I don't recommend egg white for organic foliar nutrition, but sugar and a little glycerin can be absorbed foliarly, and used by the plant. That can supplement the normal photosynthesis in cloudy weather. Don't make the foliar solution stronger than recommended on the container. In fact, frequent applications of weaker solutions are more effective than infrequent applications of maximum strength solutions. The very fastest growth comes from daily applications of weak solutions (quarter strength or less). More later. The weeds are laughing at me.

ZM
(not associated with any product or vendor mentioned or linked)

This post was edited by zenman on Fri, Jun 13, 14 at 11:01


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

This is my very first zinnia of 2014. I'm kind of disappointed that it's so boring. But I have at least 10 more plants with no blooms yet, so there's hope yet!


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Desirai - boring? Boring?! It's gorgeous! The color is won-der-ful! Two bugs couldn't hold themselves back from it - they had to get closer. And just look at those lovely stylish petals. I tell you, you guys are making me impatient to try my hand at this hybridizing thingie.

ZM - lamb's quarters, pigweed, nutgrass - ha! I laugh at your puny weeds! This is what I have to contend with: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canary_grass - in addition to all those you have already named - and those you haven't. Oh, and you forgot burdock, stinging nettle and milk thistle. Though, to be honest, those last three aren't usually in the corral area.

I suppose I could direct plant some more zinnia seed, but I think I'll be good and stick with the small area. I've got so much else planted this year, I shouldn't give myself any more work. Thanks for reminding me to feed them, though. I'll do that on our next days off.

- Alex


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

AWWWWW you are too sweet.
The petals I like, yes, but it's just sunshine yellow. I was hoping for rainbow with fluorescent pink speckles ;)


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hi Desirai,

I agree with Alex, that is a great zinnia, and a great picture of it with not one, but two insects. It is definitely not boring, and those petals have an unusual shape. They are almost like two petals fused into one, with the heart-shaped petal endings. And they are a bit curled or furled -- not a flat shingle like ordinary zinnias can have. You definitely got lucky with that zinnia. Such a bright rich yellow. Can't wait to see some more of your zinnias.

ZM


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hi Alex,

Your laughing at my "puny weeds" has me laughing. Your writing is quite good, and I really enjoy your wit. I will remember your message with pleasure as I re-attack my weeds tomorrow.

ZM


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Speaking of weeds... I was pulling some weeds around the beans yesterday and just lightly brushed against a stinging nettle. I knew it was a stinging nettle and I was trying not to touch it, but it happened.
I can still feel where it poked me, and then poked me again when I reacted to the first poking. That was like 15 hours ago.
Some plants are such jerks.

Here's a bloom from the zinnia that wasn't quite open in the other picture I posted a long time ago. I took this one yesterday. Absolutely gorgeous weather. Low 70s, clear sunshine, a cool gentle breeze and not humid, despite the 3" of rain that we received recently.


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Telescody - I just read about this recently, but couldn't remember which leaf it was that was the remedy for stinging nettle. Found this short video to confirm it. What they were calling dock, though, I call sorrel. If you've got stinging nettles, you probably have sorrel around, too. (Oh, and ZM - add that one to the list...) I have yet to try it, but I may do so soon, for the experiment's sake. I don't feel too nervous about it, because for some reason, nettle doesn't give me more than a very short-lived pain. And I've been told by someone at some point, that I walked through poison ivy, but I never got a rash. That was a long time ago, though, and body chemistries can change. I do, however, react badly to no-see-ums, whatever those nasty little biting gnats are - even worse than mosquitoes. They can raise a welt that will be with me for several days. Will let you know how the experiment goes.

ZM - go pull your weeds. I can hear them from here. Gotta go - I actually still have to work for a living...dang it.

- Alex

Here is a link that might be useful: treating stinging nettle with dock (Rumex) leaves


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

I finally got some zinnias in the ground! My perennials are really maturing nicely, and I planted many new ones this year, as well. So, I don't have as much time or space for zinnias. But, they are still some of my favorites for their nonstop blooms and attraction for pollinators. I planted saved seed from some beautiful marbled blooms I grew last year, and some soft yellow cactus blooms, and Profusion Cherry and Zaharah Starlight Rose. I also had an old package of "Red Cap Zinnias" that are described as "red buttons". The picture looks like little red balls with a small center of florets. I'm hoping the hummingbirds will like that type. If I get a chance, I'll take some garden pictures to share.

Martha


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Martha - my perennial beds are doing well, too. This weather is our just compensation for the horrible winter we went through, I'm guessing. Everything is looking great! Once again, I'll mention scarlet runner beans for the hummingbirds. They grow fairly quickly - and on that note, I just remembered I wanted to plant a second batch to come up on my tomato trellis. Gotta go67yyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy - sorry, Samhain is helping me type again. Never allow a cat access to your computer - she always wants to turn on the Caret browsing, whatever the heck that is...

- Alex


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hello!

It is so neat to see your first blooming flowers! ZM, that last of the two tubulars is my favorite...not only is it tubular, the petals are markedly star-shaped. Please show that again when it is fully opened. You have a wonderful line going there...I'm jealous.....

Desirai, the yellow color of your flower with the lady bug is great. You might have been looking for speckles, but that shade of yellow is so nice..I would like to have a whole bed of those flowers..it would light the whole garden up.

Telescody, that's the fullest zinnia I've seen here for this season..nice! It will be awhile before I see ones like that in my garden. By the way, nettles are really a nuisance! If you have any jewelweed, you can rub some of the juice of that plant where the nettles hit (ASAP after they did) and that may help if you have those around, too. That's our local remedy.

Well, like ZM, I also have my hands full with weeds. I just wish it wouldn't get so darn hot when they pop up! My first flower of the season opened up. It is a Zinnia haageana, or commercial strain Persian Carpet, and it is a volunteer from last year's garden (that says something about the hardiness of those seeds!).. this is not very
remarkable,but here it is, for the record:
June 15 First Flower 2014

In the last few days I attended the Master Gardener (Indiana) State Conference and enjoyed it with all the presentations on garden plants. Giving two talks was fellow plant breeding enthusiast, Joseph Tychonievich. I asked him to pose for our zinnia breeding thread:

.

He is particularly excited about breeding snapdragons now. (Joseph, if you visit this site, please do contribute..we'd love it!).

Back to the weeding here..more later..

Jackie
=


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

OMGOSH YOU GUYS!!!!!!!!!! Look at this one!!!!! I'm so excited!!!! It's on the same exact plant as the yellow one I posted a couple days ago.


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Wow! Beautiful color AND cool shape. That's a keeper.

I'm showing my age and lack of regular excercise. I spent one day squatting to plant zinnias, plus lifting countless arms-full of oak leaves to stuff in the shredder. The next day I helped my brother transplant baby evergreens from one part of his property to another. Today I can barely stand up. I'm exaggerating, but I do need to be more careful to stop earlier than I used to. I also need to make sure I get out doors at least three times per week to keep those muscles in shape. Getting older is not for the faint of heart.

Martha


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hey JG, went for a bit of a hike today, and came across a few cup plants.
I couldn't help but stop and take a picture for you.

Mine doesn't quite match up to yours. I searched for pictures of the flowers, and man, they're pretty! I gotta save some seed from these later in the summer to grow next year. Native wild flowers are pretty awesome, thanks for the inspiration.


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Ive read Joseph Tychonievich's book- I recommend it. I might look into rose breeding...

ZM, if you still breed the tubular-petalled zinnias, you should send some seed to the Seed Savers Organization. They can help you create a strain out of them. such a unique zinnia strain should be saved and distributed. (Send me some too, while you are at it :P)

My zinnias still did not flower. If the 65-70 day figure is correct, they should start in a week or two.


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Martha - you have a shredder??! Dang. That would be useful. (sigh...) Yeah, all getting older - But I can still sling a haybale around. Well, maybe not sling exactly. :)

Hey, I just looked up the cupplants and see they are Silphium perfoliatum, and in the same family as compass plant. I had one of those - it might still be there, but it hasn't flowered for the past couple of years since it is in a regular mow area, and there are so many obstacles that John has to mow around, that I haven't had the heart to tell him to watch for one other spot. I'll check, though, to see if it is still there and mark it for "no-mow". I would have transplanted it years ago, but apparently it's one of those that sends down a mile long taproot that doesn't survive moving. If it will bloom again for me, I will save seed for planting. It's how I got it before - seed somone gave me.

Desirai - see? see? Not boring at all! That first was just the test bloom, but I like them both, truthfully. And speaking of zinnias, some of mine are starting buds!

- Alex


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Alex,
Yes, we love our shredder, especially since it is a hand-me-down hand- me-down that my sister got at an estate sale. Unfortunately, many parts are starting to rust and we no longer have the van we used to transport it here. I'd love to have it rebuilt by some old handyman. It's touchy enough that I don't even try to use it without my husband around, and it's really a two-person job, anyway.

I got the last of my zinnias in the ground yesterday and we had a fabulous thunderstorm all night. So, hopefully they will tolerate their transplant well. My dog is not so happy with the storm. As she has gotten older she has developed a terrible fear of thunder, and now even rain. I don't know how we're going to get her outside to empty her bladder this morning. Looks like the storms will last most of the day.

I did take a few progress pictures of the garden. I'll post one representative now and post later when I have some zinnias blooming. You can just see a few zinnia sprouts in the left lower corner and more in the back left of center. My garden is at it's shadiest right now and gets sunnier as the sun heads back south. The most shade-loving plants are at the back, though I've also tried to arrange somewhat based on height. For perspective, I am standing on the shoulder of the road to take this picture and only captured a diagonal portion of the large bed.

Martha

This post was edited by docmom on Fri, Jun 20, 14 at 6:08


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Martha - and apparently you were also standing on your head at the time - LOL! You might want to check your pics for positioning...:)


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hi Jackie,

" ...that last of the two tubulars is my favorite...not only is it tubular, the petals are markedly star-shaped. Please show that again when it is fully opened."

I took this picture of it this morning. The whitish color on the petals is no longer prominent because the petals are much closer together now.

From a distance it just looks like a pink zinnia. It hasn't put out any conventional pollen yet. It is possible that there are anther bundles inside the petals, but I haven't checked that out yet. Several more of its siblings are starting to open buds. I'm still weeding. More later.

ZM


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Sorry about the picture position. My iPad automatically re orients any picture I take or that anyone else posts, so they always look correct to me. So, I can't see any problem. Therefore, I can't tell whether it's fixed. I try to take all my pictures in the same direction to avoid this problem, but I must have gotten switched around when I clicked that one. I'm just going to leave it. Maybe I'll see if I can reorient it.

Martha


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Will someone let me know how the picture looks now? To me it looks upside down and I'm betting others with apple devices will have the same problem. Sorry to clutter the thread with irritating miscellaneous stuff.

Martha


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Martha - you're still standing on your head, but that's alright - I turned my laptop (which is a Dell) upside down so I could see the pic. You've got alot of stuff planted - I can see the zinnias; they're to the front and left, right? What's the purple blooming off in the distance?

ZM - that's a very pretty bloom. It sort of reminds me of the lantana that I grew up seeing down in south TX. I wonder if they are structurally similar with each "petal" an individual flower, so to speak.

- Alex


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hey guys! I got 2 new zinnias today. One of them isn't quite open though. Can any of you tell what color it might be? I'm excited! :) The other one I think came from a pack of "cherry swizzle" but I'm not sure. I think I'm going to cross it with that awesome zinnia I showed a few days ago, with the curled petals.



 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

it has been quiet.......

Ummm I tried that green heading.. or whatever you called it.

ZM explained it's where you pull the seeds before they actually dry? when they are still green?

Well I plucked just a few petals of each of my zinnias and got some beautiful bright green seeds..... do I just let them dry now? How do i know if I did it too early?


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

If the seed has a full feeling to it, then it has been pollinated and will grow.


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hi Desirai,

Like Martha said, the viable green seeds will be "fat". If you pinch them gently between your thumb and forefinger, you can tell the full seeds from the empty seeds. You can easily bend an empty seed, but a zinnia seed that contains an embryo resists bending. That applies to brown seeds as well. But with green seeds, you can tell the empty seeds from the viable seeds pretty much by just looking at them.

As with my other pictures in this thread, you can see a larger version of the picture by clicking on it and hitting the F11 key to make the new screen heading go away so that the picture fills your monitor screen as best it can. When you are done looking at the big picture, hit the F11 key to get the heading back so you can see how to close the enlarged picture. The larger version might help you see the difference between the "good" green seeds and the "empty" ones.

If you want save your green seeds for use later, spread them out on a newspaper and let them dry out for a week or two.

If you want to plant them immediately, I will show you how to breach the green seed coat so that the embryo can get water immediately. Since the green seed coat is alive, it is impermeable to water and if you don't breach the seed coat, the seed won't sprout until the seed coat dies and becomes water permeable. That can take well over a week, so the breaching thing is best for rapid germination.

You can also go a step farther when breaching the green seed coat, and remove the little white embryo, and plant it. Last Winter I planted two trays of embryos instead of seeds, and it worked fine. I usually use some Physan 20 (one tablespoon per gallon of water) to protect the embryos from bacterial attack -- after all, the embryos are kind of "naked". But you might have success if you skip the Physan 20.

ZM


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

If the seed has a full feeling to it, then it has been pollinated and will grow. Let them dry and plant whenever.

Martha


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hi!

I think the worst of the weeding is over here, although my garden is far from having the manicured look. By the appearance of my plants, it seems I should have many zinnia blooms in the next week. Can't wait to see what I get! Am always hopeful for pretty extreme rolls, but for now, any of them would be very welcome!

ZM, your dark pink tubular flower is wonderful. It looks very full, and the edges of the tubes are serrated. Hope you get lots of seeds from it! Your breeding program is going so well. The sibling plants will be interesting to see.

Martha, that photo of yours is interesting. It looks like you have lots of space to work with! Looking forward to seeing your flowers! By the way, on my PC, your picture is upside down, but on my iPad, it is right side up!

Desirai, you're really getting a nice variety of blooms...lots of different traits to work with! Do better than I did the first few years, and keep records of your crosses, so that you can get an idea of what genetic inheritance you have!

Alex, I also have a compass plant...right now its space is being taken over by a cup plant! You can see it's fernlike foliage in this not too good photo:
June 17 001

Telescody, if you grow cup plants, make sure you keep them somewhat contained..they have lots of progeny when mature! It took about three years for mine to start flowering.

Goclon, looking for photos of your flowers, too!

I am hoping for some interesting extreme-roll flowers, but am also hoping for some large flowers with bright red petals, that are very thin, with white undersides, like this one from last year:
.

Every year, I have had a plant or two with flowers like the above, and I am not careful enough to make sure it is selfed, and that I collect a good number of seeds.

Jackie


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Thanks so much for that picture of green seeds. The seeds i pulled are definitely fat and healthy, not a single one is flat or bendable!

Wooo hooo!!!!

I'm so excited.

Do you think I could plant now and get some growth before winter?

I'm not exactly sure how long it takes a zinnia to grow from seed. I never really pay attention to growth rate, only to germination!

Bad news, one of my zinnias died unexpectedly... it began to wilt and within 24 hours was brown, limp and... almost soggy looking.


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hi Desirai,

With respect to your zinnia that died unexpectedly, I have had that same experience from time to time. I usually "perform an autopsy" to see what went wrong, and I have found that usually the problem is a bacterial stem infection that started from a small wound in the stem near the soil line. In a few cases, I have found that a stem borer larva entered the stem, so I split the stem to find the borer (and killed it). Fortunately this sudden death problem is fairly rare.

"Do you think I could plant now and get some growth before winter? "

I do. Zinnias usually form a main stem flower bud in about 6 weeks from the time they come up. Green seeds are slower to germinate because their living seed coat is impermeable to water, but the coat will die and become permeable in about two weeks. So your green seeds could be starting to bloom in about 8 weeks from the time you plant them. That's about 2 months, so they should be in "full bloom" in about 3 months, which would be some time in September. I don't know when you can expect a first killing freeze, but since you are Zone 7b I would guess that your first killing freeze would be in late October or possibly in November.

In other words, if you plant your green seeds now there is a good chance that you will be able to see their blooms, pollinate or cross-pollinate those blooms, and harvest viable green seeds from them before your growing season ends.

As I mentioned before, you can speed up the germination of green seeds by "breaching" the seed coat to allow immediate contact with soil water with the embryo inside. I use an X-Acto knife to cut the seed coat to do the breaching.

My favorite method is to cut the petal off of the seed and then pull open at least one of the "side wings" of the seed. I prefer to use a curved blade like in the picture. First I cut the petal away, closer to the seed embryo than in the picture. Then I place the knife into the edge of the seed so as to just "miss" the embryo (grin, X-ray eyes could help here) and, letting the knife blade anchor the seed, I use my fingernail to pull the seed a little ways from the blade. The knife blade holds the side wing stationary and my fingernail pulls the seed open a bit. It takes a bit of practice to get the hang of it.

Any technique that gives the embryo access to water works. If you should accidentally cut the root tip off of the embryo then it can't grow, but if you accidentally nick the cotyledon part of the embryo, it probably will grow with a small missing part of the cotyledons.

Whatever you do, be careful not to cut yourself with the X-Acto blade. It is razor sharp. And work on a surface that you don't mind nicking. A cutting board, plastic or wood, would work. I use an inexpensive folding TV tray from Walmart that has a plastic surface. It cost less than a good cutting board, and is handy for a lot of things.

If you have questions about any of this, don't hesitate to ask.

ZM



 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Here's a lovely zinnia that is fully open today. It has baby pink in the petals but you can't really tell from the photos I took.


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Desirai, I like the color of your pastel zinnia there. Is that one from your 2013 seeds ?

With some more rain and a lot of heat, my zinnias are opening, and quickly! I hold my breath to see some of the traits I saw last year return!

Here is a cactus-type flower from HPS Seeds:

First cactus 2014

Here is a Peruvian zinnia, Zinnia peruviana--the flower is small, about 1 inch across:

.

The Peruvian zinnias can be red or yellow, and I save seeds one year to the next.

Jackie


 o
RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25

Hi everyone,

Since this message thread has gone beyond 100 messages and is a bit unwieldy, we are continuing this message thread over on It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 26. See you all over there.

ZM


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Annuals Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here