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It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

Posted by zenman (My Page) on
Wed, Jul 29, 09 at 2:37

Greetings all,

Once again, the previous part of this ongoing series, It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 11, is becoming rather long and slow to load, so we are continuing the series here.

The same guidelines apply here. Anything remotely related to zinnias is fine and, as a courtesy to readers with smaller monitors, try to keep the pictures posted no wider than 986 pixels.

This is a picture of another of my recombinants that combine Whirligig coloration with a cactus-like flower form.

The colors in this one range from canary yellow through yellow-orange toward pink. It is rather similar to another specimen I posted in Part 11. I'll cross-pollinate the two. I am hoping to get a strain of multi-colored spider flowered zinnias, but I have a ways to go to achieve that. There may be a few bumps in the road toward that goal, but the journey is a lot of fun for me.

ZM


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

Hi all!

ZM, a line of bicolored cactuses would be a welcome addition to all the zinnias that are offered. I find them once in a while among all my cactuses, and rarely among my whirligigs, and they always stand out. The gold-yellow and pink bicolor looks good.

I have been in the Ozarks for the past week, kind of in ZM's neck of the woods, well, more so than Indiana! I didn't see a zinnia there, but lots of crepe myrtle and resurrection lilies and cosmos.

Anyway, I came back to a water-damaged garden--we had 2 3/4 inches of rain in the last week.

Here are some of the flowers I have now:

The flower without petals is example of what breeders try to get large numbers of--it's called "apetalous male sterile."
That way, they can pollinate all the plants as they want without a chance of self pollination--the 100% females are very easy to pick out and the rest can be removed! I seldom see these, but have one plant in my garden now. The plant with the extreme-rolled petals has a more mature flower now, with more buds coming. I think it's an interesting mutation--I hope it can be inherited, so I'm selfing it.

JG


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

JG,

You have some exciting stuff there! That toothy red and white is great, and it cries for a strain of toothy bicolors. If you grew a lot of selfs from it, you might find some with even more toothiness, including all of the petals being toothy, and the toothiness being even more extreme.

Your extreme rolled mutation is a whole new flower form! I hope you can get a lot of seeds from it. That is worthy of becoming a new zinnia strain, with commercial possibilities.

I hope the water damage wasn't excessive. We had about an inch of rain over the last few days and we have had a very cool July, with several record lows. With our flat impervious soil, 2 inches of rain would convert my garden to a rice paddy.

I wonder how the seed companies get a lot of those "apetalous male sterile" zinnias for commercial production of F1 hybrid zinnias. Do you remember the Burpee Zenith F1 hybrids? They must have been produced using large numbers of apetalous male-sterile zinnias. I hope you save seeds from your apetalous male sterile specimen to see if a certain fraction of its progeny are like it, or whether you have to go to the F2 generation to get them again.

We aren't in the Ozarks here in east central Kansas, but when we lived in the St. Louis area (before Maine), we were fairly near the foothills of the Ozarks. A guide at a local natural history museum said that the Ozarks are the oldest continuously habitable landmass on the planet. There was a site not too far from St. Louis that was both an archeological excavation site and a paleontological excavation site. Early man had hunted both mammoths and mastodons in that area.

Back to your zinnias. That rose suffused orange is unusual, and that pastel scabiosa flowered specimen is classic. That rose pink that fades to near white is really nice. I have had a few that were similar, but not as nice as yours. And I think yours looks much nicer than Burpee's Exquisite zinnia strain.

You've got some really great breeder zinnias. They make me very optimistic about what zinnias can do in the future.

ZM


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

DM, I enjoy your photo vignette of the progression of the bicolors. I'm still captivated by the unevenness of color and shape of the petals of the 'Burpeeana'.
JG, I wish you the best of recreating the rolled petaled specimen. When I first glanced, I thought it was a passionflower. I agree that one has lots of potential.
Every year I've had one or two specimens that bloomed out pink and were violet by the third day. This year I have a large number that have appeared cream or colorless the first day of bloom, but were peach, orange, pink or violet by day three. These are from both purchased and saved seed.


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

Good morning!

I was disappointed on a quick check of my somewhat soggy garden last evening. I have shown earlier a yellow flower with red-tipped petals that I thought was interesting. The second flower on the same plant was a solid red! A similar thing happened when I looked at the plant that had the red flower with tubular petals--the second and third flowers on that same plant had red daisy-like, but flat, petals. Consistency in these zinnias would be nice!

More later.....

JG


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

Hi all,

This is a picture of the second side branch bloom on the plant that I pictured back on Sun, Jul 12, 09 at 1:34.

The petal formation is a little different on this one and the pink at the base of the petals seems a bit lighter, but it is also double, which is significantly different from the single main stem flower that I clipped off. A third side branch is budding out.

This zinnia plant was an eye-opener for me, because I had been routinely discarding all single zinnias, even those with interesting looking flowers. Now I have revised my policy, to discard only ordinary looking singles and to give interesting looking single specimens a second chance by cutting off their single bloom and waiting to see what develops on their side branches. I spared three singles on that basis yesterday. I still choose not to develop strains of single zinnias. I don't consider scabiosa-derived zinnias as singles as long as they have some scabiosa-type central florets.

ZM


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

ZM,

The yellow and pink flower you just posted is striking in appearance. It's good you kept the plant in the garden beyond the first flower! How will you use it in your breeding program?

I'm wondering if any of us can do something with the plants that will ensure that they produce the best flowers consistently? Fertilizer, or a support that might minimize mechanical stress? I don't know!

Earlier today, I mentioned the red flower on the plant that had earlier also produced a yellow and red flower. I went back to the garden and noticed close to the ground this flower pictured below, that was similar to the one I posted not too long ago:

Once I traced the branch, I found that it was on the same plant as the red flower I described in the last post:

So, I looked at the red flower more closely, and found that the bases of its petals were yellow!

So, I will still keep the seeds from this plant and see what happens..

I have several rows of cactus zinnias now that are reaching their peak:

and a small plot of Benary zinnias that may be used for crossing with other types. These plots are full of bumblebees, honeybees, and hummingbirds, as well as finches and a few swallowtails and monarchs. These are some of the reasoms they are such a pleasure to grow!

JG


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

JG,

"It's good you kept the plant in the garden beyond the first flower! How will you use it in your breeding program?"

I am selfing it and also pollinating it with pollen from other long, narrow petalled zinnias. I am also using some of its pollen on the orange specimen with long narrow petals, first pictured back on Thu, Jul 9, 09 at 2:12. I'll link it in here, so you don't have to go looking for it.

That plant has several blooms now, but so far none of them has produced pollen. Every now and then you get an apparently male-sterile zinnia. I like its long narrow petals (I think of them as aster flowered), which I think might look even better with bicolored or tricolored coloration. Actually, I would like a long petalled aster flowered strain like that in all zinnia colors.

"I'm wondering if any of us can do something with the plants that will ensure that they produce the best flowers consistently? Fertilizer, or a support that might minimize mechanical stress?"

I use my zinnia cages for support in high winds and as some protection against stray dogs. Your zinnias are close enough together to give each other a good measure of support in high winds. However, they might benefit from wider spacing of the plants, so that each plant has more room to branch out, and so that the lower leaves can get more sun.

Zinnias like full sun, plenty of nutrients, and well-drained soil. I had those conditions in my Maine garden, and my zinnias flourished there. But, unfortunately, where we are renting now is almost completely shaded and the soil is the opposite of well-drained. It's a challenge to keep my zinnias going here. I have used some foliar sugar feeding in an attempt to compensate for the shade, as well as Miracle-Gro but, for the first time, I am seeing a Powdery Mildew problem, and that is in mid summer! We had a very cool July, which contributed to the PM problem. Mildew is inhibited by full sun and high temperatures. I'm still using the potassium bicarbonate based GreenCure, but I am contemplating the use of a stronger mildewcide.

There are no Japanese Beetles here, but Flea Beetles are pandemic and much of my zinnia foliage (as well as tomato foliage and, of course, eggplant foliage) has been damaged by them. It's not practical to hand-pick flea beetles (although I have done some of that successfully -- flea beetles can jump and fly, but they aren't very smart). I'm considering using an insecticide against the flea beetles. They don't kill the plant, but they stunt it severely. And I hope that an eventual alternate rental can solve the shady garden problem. In a long term situation, I would consider purchasing some bulk sand as a soil amendment.

I think there is an opportunity to learn better ways to grow zinnias. You hear a lot about 6-inch, 7-inch, and even 8-inch diameter zinnia flowers. I have had only a few that exceeded 6 inches, so there probably is some cultural method of getting larger flowers. Boron nutrition for zinnias is tricky, and I hope to learn more about that.

Apparently there is some benefit to be had from silicon nutrition, and I have been experimenting with that some. That requires some care, because potassium silicate solution is very alkaline. Zinnias can take up quite a lot of silicon and use it in several ways, to increase cell wall strength and consequently plant structural strength. There have been reports that thicker cell walls from silicon contribute to disease resistance. I've used potassium silicate indoors, but not outdoors yet. Rice farmers depend on silicon-enriched fertilizers for stem strength.

ZM


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

ZM,

It seems that you are well on your way to developing a strain of narrow-petalled zinnias! You must have gone through a number of generations, along with back-crossing and out-crossing to improve what you have. You have shown some beautiful flowers on these threads! But you probably also add specific goals as you go along and see particular traits you would like to incorporate in the flowers you have.

Addition of trace elements is needed when you have certain deficiencies in your soil, I think. You can go to an extension or co-op often to test for these things, although the cost might be high! I am tempted to do just that some time. The only test I have done here at home is pH. We have fairly alkaline soil here, because of all the limestone in the area. The soil here was tested at pH 7.5. It doesn't seem to affect the zinnias, but it could be a factor. Obvious problems are seen in the azaleas and dogwood we try to grow here. Plants like blueberries also really suffer.

Below is a somewhat battered, but different, cactus flower. It's the first I've seen with that particular whirligig pattern.

JG


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

Hey all,
Finally had a few interesting photos to share. The first two are my "tulip" zinnias. They came from different plants. Next is my "square" flower. Lastly, is a pink Candy Cane. Click on the picture for a full size view. Hope you enjoy.
BTG
Tulip zinnia Another Tulip zinnia Square zinnia Pink Candy Cane zinnia


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

You all have interesting flowers!

I think I am a petal-shape person. I like something non-standard. So far my zinnias look pretty standard and I am a little disappointed, but maybe when I cross or self cross them, next year I will get something different.

JG, I like you unusual colored that you posted on 7/31. Maybe there is a mutation. Maybe you should take a cutting if you want to keep it. Like the cactus with whirligig effect too.

BTG, I like the square one and the candy cane. The candy has the candy cane effect plus unusal shape too.

ZM, I like the long petal one. One of my cactus looked a little like it last year but not quite the same. This year my giant cactus hasn't bloomed yet.

Mine aren't that interesting, but I am posting them here anyway:

The first three are from the whirligig mix. The first one is the one I showed last week. The petal arrangement was more interesting last week. Now it it a little common. The second one looks similar to the first but it looks like it is without carotenoid. The third one might be a mispackaging, but I guess we can't really know for sure.
Photobucket

The next three are from a Candy Cane mix! Either I completely mislabled them, or sometimes they are just unpredicatable? They don't look like Candy Cane to me... more like whirligig. They are the only 3 from Candy Cane mix that are in bloom now so I will have to wait for the rest to compare.
Photobucket

The Burpeerean Giant that showed a strong bicolor effect when it was new has now turned into mostly single color orange. There is still some bicolor effect but very lightly.
Photobucket

And today I cut almost all of my zinnia blooms and gave them out to friends. Not that I didn't like them, but due to some work needs, I will be out of town from Tue till about 8/16. Since I cannot stay around and enjoy them and all of them has additional flower buds, I thought I would start over again about 2 weeks later.


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

I didn't buy any orange zinnia seeds, but I have a few of these soft orange zinnias. Fortunately, one plant is beside my black & blue salvia and the other is beside the mystic spires salvia, creating a great dark blue/orange combination.

If I want to find seeds like this, any suggestions on what to look for?

Thanks,
Cameron


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

JG,

"But you probably also add specific goals as you go along and see particular traits you would like to incorporate in the flowers you have."

Yes, occasionally new zinnia characteristics just appear in an unplanned way. Recently I had a new bloom with extra wide petals, and this is its picture.

If those petals were a whole lot wider, that zinnia could look like a rose. I'm still concentrating on long, narrow petals in "airy" flowers, but as a sideline I will be looking for extra wide petals as well. It would be kind of neat to get a strain of zinnias that looked like roses. I'm selfing this one, as well as crossing it onto some scabiosa hybrids, with the idea that its wide petals might translate into larger central florets.

"Addition of trace elements is needed when you have certain deficiencies in your soil, I think. You can go to an extension or co-op often to test for these things, although the cost might be high!"

Yes, I think the cost might be high. Mostly commercial growers avail themselves of such services. I need to do some pH testing, both indoors and outdoors. I have some indicator papers. There are small amounts of trace elements in the nutrients that I use, including both the Better-Gro and the Miracle-Gro. But, as you alluded, pH can affect the availability of trace elements. There are ways to "read the foliage" to identify nutrient deficiencies. In the past, in my indoor zinnias, I have detected both calcium deficiencies and boron deficiencies by reading the foliage. There are several sources of information on how to read foliage to diagnose deficiencies. The book, Nutrient Deficiencies in Bedding Plants: A Pictorial Guide for Identification and Correction has a chapter on zinnia deficiencies, with a bunch of color pictures of specific zinnia deficiencies. I'm using it to attempt to diagnose the needs of my zinnias, both indoors and out.

Your "battered, but different cactus flower" looks very worthy of being a breeder. You have a lot of very special zinnias that don't appear in any catalog.

ZM


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

Brock, your square bloom just keeps making me chuckle. It's a trip! I like your orange 'Whirligig'.
JG, You may need to give a name to your "battered" zinnia because I think we may be referring back to it. That's one I would love to see unfurl in my garden. Is it related to 'July Bonnet'?
Dave, I still like the orange 'Burpeeana'. The subtle bicolor is pleasing.
Cameron, you should save seed from this orange one. I think any packaged oranges would have much fuller heads. The tucked petal tips make me think it has cactus flowered in its background.


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

Cameron,

"I didn't buy any orange zinnia seeds, but I have a few of these soft orange zinnias... If I want to find seeds like this, any suggestions on what to look for?"

Most mixtures of zinnias include some orange zinnias, but for an inexpensive commercial source of orange cactus flowered zinnia seeds for landscaping use, Zinnia Inca is one choice. For orange dahlia flowered zinnias, one choice is the Orange Benary's Giant. I am sure there are other orange zinnia options, but those are the ones that come to mind right now.

Another suggestion is to save seeds from the orange zinnias that you now have. Tie a piece of yarn on your favorite specimens, or in some other way tag them for later. That way, you can become your own breeder of orange zinnias that suit your taste. You could just let the bees and gravity do your pollination, or you could self-pollinate your favorite oranges, or make crosses between your favorite oranges, for a possibly better orange breed. Zinnias have a lot of different shades and tints of orange, as well as different plant habits and flowerforms, so you could develop several different orange strains.

ZM


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

Hi everyone!

Brock, your square zinnia is definitely different. Wouldn't it be something if you could develop a strain of square zinnias? That would be novel! You could call it "Spongebob." The pink candy cane is pretty. I don't think I've seen any like that.

Dave, it's good to see you are getting flowers now! The whirligigs are good examples, and the cactus is a really nice flower. You have some plants to work with now! I like the whirligig with red edges (the rest is yellow and red). It could be an interesting goal to develop picotee (edged) petals in zinnias. That pack of Candy Canes had to be mislabeled! They really do look like whirligigs.

Cameron, I'm now growing out a pack of the Inca zinnias that ZM has mentioned above. They are the orange ones in the photo here:

I think they could offer some of what you're looking for..

HC, the battered cactus I pictured above is not related to July Bonnet. For the time, I will call it "Cactigig." I was just thinking how it would be really an interesting project to develop a whirligig pattern (that is-- magenta in the center, followed by a band of red, and then, with yellow-tipped petals)in a scabious zinnia. So, with that, you would see magenta florets in the center, and the guard petals showing bands of red and yellow. What a flower!

ZM, a wide-petalled zinnia strain resembling roses would be quite a contrast to your narrow-petalled flowers. They would look like roses. The widest petals I've seen in zinnias, considering them all, would be in the Peruvian zinnias, but they are hardly multi-petalled, so don't know if a possible cross would be helpful.

As I said before, two-toned cactus flowers are rare in my garden. I saw two today, out of many.

JG


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

i wanted to share a flower I'm enjoying. It's parent was a volunteer last year and I gave it the name 'baby doll'. I selfed it and I like this year's flower even better. Its petals look like a calendula.
Photobucket


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

HC,

That's a pretty flower. It looks like it is short, like a Swizzle, but with a different color pattern. The many petals make it interesting. Does it have some white tips on the petals? (looks like it does..)

JG


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

HC,

Those petals do look a calendula, except for the color, of course. It's encouraging that it had a volunteer in its heritage, and that it was better this year. I hope you save seeds from it so that we can see what the offspring of "Baby Doll" will look like.

JG,

That yellow based pink cactus is my favorite of the two bicolored cactus zinnias. I think it would be a good breeder. And a massed bed of them would look great.

ZM


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

The white tips on the 'baby doll' are just from poor photography. It's now a waist high plant and getting taller. I don't think it could have 'Swizzle' in it because I collected these seed before I had purchased my potted 'Swizzles' (I cheated). The first bloom was extremely deformed, but I could see it had a mop of rectangular petals in the exact color of the parent. As anyone who knows me would guess; I'm crossing it with my orange and violet 'Swizzle' crosses.


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toothy

ZM, how is this one progressing? Are you using it as a breeder?

Here is a link that might be useful: toothy


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

HC,

"...how is this one progressing? Are you using it as a breeder?"

This bloom seems to be progressing OK, in a rather advanced stage of maturity. I took this picture yesterday.

I am using it as a breeder, because I much admire the look of the flower when it is relatively "new". No side branches are in bloom yet. I have been pollinating it mostly with pollen from itself. It is possible that the lower older petals might have some viable green seeds. I'll check them in a day or two and, if I find anything viable, I will plant them inside as part of my Fall "crop".

ZM


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

Hello!

The cactus zinnias here are doing well, and I was able to create my husband a nice birthday bouquet. Everyone in our family is a summer person, so they all get zinnias on their birthday! Anyway, there was a pretty nice yellow zinnia in the group I picked.

I have a row of Enchantress zinnias growing outdoors. Most of them look like the one I photographed today, below:

I think there will be enough July Bonnet seeds for me to make a small plot next year. In general, the best three offspring this year tend to be a balanced orange and red, mostly red, or mostly yellow:

JG


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

The black veil makes it look like it's in mourning. :-(
Did you retain any '08 'July Bonnet' seed that you can plant among the '09 seed? We are all wishing you success.


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

No!....the black cover is more like the black netted hosiery that a lady wears on an exciting night out on the town
;-))....

I used all my '08 seed this year, and was surprised that nearly all the seed I had germinated. So, will see what happens next year with this summer's seed..

JG


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

HC,

"The black veil makes it look like it's in mourning."

It does sort of look like a black veil. But I need the nets to keep the bees from stealing the pollen and to keep the birds from stealing the seeds. I've been thinking about redesigning the nets to reduce wind drag and to keep them on better during winds. As it is, I have to pick up a number of nets after any windy period and reinstall the nets. I'm also looking for an alternative to the black yarn for joining the netting. It seems unnecessarily heavy.

I think I will stick with the "black honeycomb" open netting for the time being, even though sweat bees can enter through the open mesh. I've watched the sweat bees in action, and they don't take a lot of pollen, nothing like the big loads of pollen that bumblebees can carry.

I have a tighter mesh of fabric that sweat bees couldn't go through, but I hesitate to use it because it would have much higher wind drag. And it would nearly hide the flower from view and cut off airflow around the flower. I am breeding for open flower forms that give good airflow through the petals, so it would be self defeating to enclose those flowers in a tight fabric mesh. If I come up with a satisfactory new net design, I will post a picture of it here.

ZM


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

JG,

I like the July Bonnet offspring in the left-hand picture best. It looks like it has several of the July Bonnet traits. I'm hoping that July Bonnet will reappear next year

ZM


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

I've got giant envelopes of zinnia seeds saved from my favorites the past few years. How exactly do you cross-pollenate / hybridize? I'd love to try this for next year.


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

Hello!

Kelli, ZM has posted several very good descriptions of cross-pollination, the last, I believe, was on May 25, this year, "It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 10":

http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/annuals/msg0402420127804.html

ZM is our "moderator" here and probably has the most experience in crossing zinnias, with very nice results!

All, and Cameron, I am finding that the Inca zinnias are an interesting type, showing many variations on the orange zinnia theme. Here are several:

JG


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

Kelli,

"How exactly do you cross-pollinate / hybridize?"

JG is right that the most recent description of zinnia cross pollination techniques was on Mon, May 25, 09 at 11:36 in Part 10 of this message series, in which we described the transfer of pollen using a pointed artist's brush. The artist's brush is particularly handy when you have "piles" of pollen available in the zinnia florets.

There are other ways to transfer zinnia pollen. Frequently, when you are working outdoors, the wind and possibly insects may have scattered some of the pollen from the florets. When that happens, I use a small pair of forceps to "pick" a floret and use it as a brush to apply what pollen is left in it. This picture shows a floret being picked by a forceps. You could use tweezers or Twissors (tweezers with scissors-like handles) to handle the floret as well.

Then, still holding the floret in the forceps, you rub the floret on the stigmas of the zinnia that you have chosen as your female.

The stigmas are the yellow forked "antennas" at the base of the zinnia petals. As we mentioned previously, if a stigma is successfully pollinated, it will wither and die within a day or two. If the pollination was unsuccessful, the stigma will remain fresh and yellow and receptive for a week or more, so you have several opportunities to pollinate each stigma.

I like the forceps for working outdoors, particularly if there is a little wind, because the forceps have a clever little locking mechanism that holds the floret even if you forget and relax your grip on the forceps.

Unlike the forceps, the tweezers and Twissors both require you to continue to maintain some pressure to hold the floret. I have used both tweezers and Twissors successfully to pollinate zinnias, but I have come to prefer the forceps and artist's brushes for the conveniences they offer.

" I'd love to try this for next year."

Since you are zone 6-7, there is a good chance that there is still time to try it this year. You could make a fall planting of a sampling of zinnias now and they could bloom in 6 to 8 weeks, to let you experiment with cross pollination. There is even a chance that some of the seeds from your crosses could mature enough to be viable for planting next Spring. If a frost was threatening, you could harvest some plump green seeds and dry them indoors. I have successfully grown zinnias indoors from dried green seeds. We have previously discussed green seeds as a way of speeding things up. It would be great if you could start next year off with a crop of zinnia hybrids of your own making. Then you could make crosses between your own hybrids, and get some really crazy mixed up zinnias. You can get more than one generation of zinnias in a year, and make some fast progress.

ZM


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Burpee's 'Highlights'

Since I gave 'Highlights' a bad rap last year, I thought it only fair that I should share my success this year. The one plant I had last year crept along the ground like a snake. It never branched and no part of the plant was erect. It never produced a single bloom and most likely died because the other zinnias shaded it out. I suspect it died of sheer embarrassment.
The seed this year were labeled as "pelleted" though I could see no difference in them and my unplanted seed from last year. Something must be different, so I share my result:Burpee's ' Highlights '
The photo does not do them justice as they are actually NEON yellow.


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

Hello everyone,

These past days I have been in seed-collecting mode. A good part of the main garden is past its prime, and the finches are quickly grabbing seeds, so I am in competition with them! Other patches are very pretty, and I'm taking flowers as they mature for seeds and also trying to keep them so they they continue blooming.

I have two "microgardens" now with non-violaceae flowers. Will just collect seeds from these. I'm pretty sure my tenuifolia and peruviana species did indeed cross last year, as I have many flowers that are intermediate in size, while the pure species flowers are consistent in size.

Like HC, I have included the 'Highlights' cultivar in with the marylandicas, and you can see them among other Profusions below. And I agree with you, HC, I see their advantages. They have plenty of branching, and they don't seem to be prone to the brown spotting and mildew that the violaceae are. It's amazing how one plant can spread out so much! And, like HC's, my photo doesn't do the bright colors justice.

Last year, it was "July Bonnet" for me, and I continue to raise the progeny and collect seeds, of which I have many! My flower of the year now is "Extreme Roll." It seems to have even more needle-like petals than a typical cactus, and unlike the typical cactus flower, the petals are rolled upward rather than down and under. The second flower I am getting on the plant shows a little Whirligig heritage with varying hues toward the center. I think the net I placed on this flower may have spread out the petals to expose the colors.

JG


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

HC,

"The one plant I had last year crept along the ground like a snake. It never branched and no part of the plant was erect. It never produced a single bloom and most likely died because the other zinnias shaded it out. I suspect it died of sheer embarrassment."

I have on occasion had a zinnia do that same kind of vining thing. It could be desirable if you were trying to breed a strain of zinnias for hanging baskets, but I am not, so I never gave a "vining" zinnia breeder status, despite their unusual plant habit. I wonder if that prostrate habit is environmental or genetic or possibly some kind of unusual disease.

Your Burpee Highlight Hybrid this year looks pretty good, with a nice looking plant. Too bad your digital camera didn't capture the yellow color, but I have also had sunlight "wash colors out" to a whitish color in my pictures. I still intend to get a better camera, but I may have to delay that a few months because of our economy.

I wonder if your Burpee Highlight Hybrid zinnia is a true F1 Hybrid in the Burpee Pinwheel series or if it is actually just a tetraploided Violacea x Angustifolia hybrid like a Profusion or Zahara. It might be a good idea to save seeds from it (if there are any) to see what kind of results you get. It might be possible to cross it with Profusions or Zaharas.

ZM


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

JG,

I have to admit I am envious of your "Extreme Roll" specimen. Your remarkable zinnia gene pool is always revealing new surprises, and Extreme Roll seems worthy of starting a new interesting strain with a flower form of its own. The bicolor/tricolor effect is an added bonus, even if it is partially concealed by the petal roll.

I think you are correct to include the Burpee Highlight Hybrids with the Marylandicas. We tend to give Sakata's Profusions credit for starting the Marylandicas, but I think it was actually Burpee with their Pinwheels who made the first commercial introduction.

This is a picture of a new Scabiosa-based recombinant with the "Echinacea flowered" flowerform.

I hope to grow a lot more zinnias next year and do a significant amount of cross pollination between the Echinacea flowered examples in order to get a diverse but "true" strain. There is room for a lot of improvement in the Echinacea flowered zinnias.

ZM


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

ZM: Thank you so much for all the info! I'll be getting started asap.


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

ZM,

That scabiosa-type flower has a beautiful color and form. It always amazes me how much diversity there is among the scabiosas, considering central florets (size and arrangement) and the guard petals. The colors seem to parallel those of the Benaries, although it seems that you have come up with some nice bi-colored flowers as well.

I have a feeling that developing a strain of zinnias that yields nothing but the scabiosa form will be a challenge!
And I say that because of the limited success of the commercial breeders in doing this. I'm anxious to see how you fare!

I do think the marylandicas include the Burpee 'Highlight.' I have seen that Burpee sells both Pinwheels and Profusions, so I wonder if somehow the "hybrid" was developed from either or both. Incidentally, the yellow flower of the Stokes Zahara series (also marylandicas) that I'm also growing looks very much like the Burpee 'Highlight.'

One thing to note is that the Profusions last year gave me a good number of seeds that I planted this year, and successfully got a number of plants with the same distribution of color, form, etc. And, this year, these plants are producing many seeds (which are apparently too small and uninteresting to the finches).

JG


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RE: Marylandicas, continued

Hello,

One other thing I wanted to let you all know, if you haven't already seen them in the new HPS Seed catalog, are the two new marylandica seeds they are offering:

Zahara Starlight Rose:
Zahara Starlight Rose

and no doubt, similar to the 'Highlight,' the Profusion Yellow Hybrid:
Profusion Yellow Hybrid

They mistakenly call both of these "angustifolia."

JG



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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

ZM, Your camera is giving beautiful photos; especially this most recent deep rose. I could get lost in the color. My photos are actually from my cell phone. I have to take the photos at dusk or dawn to get much at all.

JG, good luck with the 'Extreme Roll'. A shaggy bicolor is what I most hope to achieve (for now).
I want to know if your 'Peruvian' X 'Red Spider' crosses are producing viable seed. That would suggest that the cross is not sterile after the F1.

I'm curious as to what 'Highlights' actually is. I can't find that stated in the literature. I think commercial zinnia breeders know scads that they are not making public.

I truly enjoy these threads. I look forward to see everyone's successes and to entertain our ponderings.


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

HC,

"I'm curious as to what 'Highlights' actually is. I can't find that stated in the literature. I think commercial zinnia breeders know scads that they are not making public."

I agree. Burpee is owned by Ball, who sell the yellow Zahara, but if you compare the shorter rounder petals of Yellow Zahara with the somewhat longer, narrower petals of Burpee's Highlight Hybrid, it appears very probable that the two are different zinnia cultivars. And Burpee claims Highlight Hybrid as an exclusive, so I think it probably is.

I do tend to doubt that Highlight Hybrid is actually an F1 hybrid, however. The Marylandicas are of hybrid origin, but because of chromosome doubling, they are actually open pollinated and, in my opinion, it is mislabeling to refer to them as F1 hybrids.

You could cross two Marylandicas to produce a legitimate F1 hybrid Marylandica, but I doubt that has been done in any commercially available zinnia. The Zahara Starlight Rose that JG linked to looks like a likely starting point for a race of bicolor Marylandicas. I have yet to see a Marylandica that really "turns me on", but that one comes close. Crossing Zahara Starlight Rose and Burpee's Highlight Hybrid could produce some interesting results, particularly in the F2 generation.

Incidentally, it should be possible to start with a Scabiosa x Angustifolia cross and produce scabiosa flowered Marylandicas. I think that might actually happen commercially in the future.

Thanks for the compliment on my photos. I enjoy photographing zinnias almost as much as raising them. Next year I hope to get a digital SLR for much better control of my picture making. I always have trouble controlling focus and depth of field and my outdoors pictures usually have a problem with wind moving the flowers around while I am trying to take their picture. I hope to figure out how to make a "garden friendly" portable windscreen to help with that. I rarely make a zinnia picture that I am entirely satisfied with, but that also holds true for my zinnias themselves, so I just enjoy the quest.

I have to say that your cell phone pictures are amazingly good, considering that they are from a phone. It would be hard to hold you back if you had an actual camera. But your phone pictures are a big help and much better than a simple verbal description. As they say, "A picture is worth a thousand words." That holds true even for phone pictures. Keep those phone pictures coming.

ZM


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

Good morning!

I agree with ZM. HC, I like to see what you're getting through your photos. I look forward to hearing of your work toward a shaggy bicolor! Also, as you mentioned, I will keep seeds of some of those suspected peruviana-tenuifolia crosses and see if they will grow. These little "hybrids" are bearing lots of fat litte seeds! I haven't tried, although I guess I could, plant a few as there are still plenty of warm days left, and at least I could check on the germination..

And, ZM, I agree with HC, your pictures are very nice and definitely show us the beauty of zinnias--yours in particular! Some of the colors in your flowers are so rich, and the slender form of some of them is unique.

I have a question for all of you reading the thread.

Every year, my zinnias, especially the first ones planted in May, begin to look pretty ratty--thanks to brown spotting and decimation of the flowers by the birds. Now they are a miserable sight! Has anyone done a severe cutback of zinnias this time of year? As in four foot high plants being cut down to two feet or so? I have cut back annuals like geraniums, petunias, and pansies this way, but never zinnias! I am sorely tempted to try this in the hopes of getting somewhat a renewal of the plants for September and October, but would like to hear your opinions and experience in this here!

JG


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

A few It-can-be-fun parts back, there was a question about whether Zinnia pauciflora and Z. peruviana are the same species. Does anyone know the answer? I'm thinking about making an order from Monticello. I'd like to try Z. pauciflora, unless it's the same as peruviana, which I already have.

Thanks!

Bill


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

  • Posted by zenman Ottawa, KS 5b (My Page) on
    Mon, Feb 21, 11 at 1:47

Bill,

"A few It-can-be-fun parts back, there was a question about whether Zinnia pauciflora and Z. peruviana are the same species. Does anyone know the answer?"

There is definitely some inconsistency about that. The USDA lists Z. pauciflora as a synonym for Z. peruviana. Monticello seems to think that Z. pauciflora is the same as the species frequently marketed under the name Red Spider, which I believe is Z. tenuifolia. I think that when you are ordering from Monticello that Z. pauciflora and Z. peruviana are different species, although their Z. pauciflora is probably Z. tenuifolia. Monticello isn't really a seedsman, and I plan to get my species zinnias from other sources in the future.

ZM
(not associated with any product or vendor mentioned)


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

Thanks for the information, ZM. I'm going to order Z. pauciflora too then--whatever it is.

If Monticello isn't really a seedsman, where do they get their seeds? Do they actually collect them from the gardens at Monticello? I've been wondering about that. I'm ordering from them because they're the only source I've been able to find for some heirloom types--like a non-hybrid ageratum.

Thanks again.

Bill


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

  • Posted by zenman Ottawa, KS 5b (My Page) on
    Mon, Feb 21, 11 at 15:16

Bill,

"If Monticello isn't really a seedsman, where do they get their seeds? Do they actually collect them from the gardens at Monticello?"

I think they do. Expect to get catalogs from Monticello several times a year, and most of the items offered are not seeds. I am personally looking for a better source of Zinnia peruviana, for a couple of reasons. I think Peruviana is available in red, yellow, and white. And Peruviana is supposed to be crossable with Z. violacea, and I want to do that interspecific cross just to see what I can get out of it. The F1 hybrid might not be so interesting, but the F2s and further recombinants could be full of surprises. Zinnia DNA, like most DNA, has a lot of "dead code" base-pair sequences which are fragments of "prehistoric genes", and sometimes recombinations can re-activate or recombine some of those lost genes to produce some interesting results.

"I'm ordering from them because they're the only source I've been able to find for some heirloom types--like a non-hybrid ageratum."

You might be able to find some seeds of interest to you at the Seed Savers Exchange. I plan to join them later this year.

Incidentally, this is not the "current" It can be fun part, and this part also seems to be somewhat incomplete. I am pretty sure that I had a message at the "tail" of this thread with a link to the "head" of the next thread, and that message, and possibly others, seems to be missing. Oh well. I guess iVillage has server backup problems.

ZM


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RE: It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 12

thanks again, ZM. I'll check out Seed Savers. I bought my Z. peruviana from Southern Exposure a couple of years back, and they seem to do okay--though not as vigorous as I'd hoped a wildish zinnia would be (I use them mostly for "natural gardening," trying to get them to self seed). Also mine are just yellow and red--no white.

Thanks again and take care.

Bill


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