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Apetalous Zinnias

Posted by christie_sw_mo Z6 (My Page) on
Mon, Aug 6, 12 at 11:05

I saved seeds from Zowie Yellow Flame last summer and have a couple dozen blooming now. I know not to expect them to look like the parent but I like surprises and was anxious to see what they looked like anyway.

They are a few that have blooms very much like the parent, and some with a little different coloring from Zowie but there are also some (about 1/4 of the plants) that have no petals.
In searching through some old posts, I found the term apetalous. I assume Zowie was a hybrid and that's what caused it. Is that right?

Mostly I'm wondering which ones I'm better off saving seeds from, the ones that LOOK like Zowie, the original Zowies (I have some of those too), or the ones without petals. Will I still get apetalous zinnias if I save seeds from the new generation of seedlings? I don't mind having a few without petals, but in general, they aren't very showy and I'd rather have petals.


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RE: Apetalous Zinnias

  • Posted by zenman Ottawa KS 5b (My Page) on
    Mon, Aug 6, 12 at 18:52

Hi Christie,

"Mostly I'm wondering which ones I'm better off saving seeds from, the ones that LOOK like Zowie, the original Zowies (I have some of those too), or the ones without petals."

Do save seeds from the ones that look like Zowie, because there is a higher probability that their progeny will also look like Zowie. Be particularly watchful for any that look better than Zowie. With recombinant zinnias, that is always a possibility.

"Will I still get apetalous zinnias if I save seeds from the new generation of seedlings?"

You may get some, but you will get less with each generation of saved seeds. You will be on your way toward "dehybridizing" Zowie. Many so-called "hybrid" tomatoes are actually open pollinated dehybridized versions of the original F1 hybrids. I am not a fan of the tall pollen cones of Zowie (although butterflies really like their plentiful pollen with the associated zinnia nectar). With home-bred zinnias, it is possible to get the Zowie multi-color petals without the tall pollen cone.

But, you know best what kind of zinnias you like. By saving seeds from your favorite zinnias, you will have become a home breeder of zinnias, and I think you will find it to be an enjoyable experience. I certainly have.

ZM


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RE: Apetalous Zinnias

Thank you Zenman. I was hoping you would comment.
My number one priority is growing zinnias that attract butterflies but I have to agree with you, they're prettier without the tall cone. Your photo is beautiful!

The original Zowies are bushy and more floriferous than the babies so far. I don't see anything that looks like it's going to be better than the original. I would settle for "as good as".

So if I collected seeds from the apetalous flowers and grew those, I might still get a high percentage of those again?


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RE: Apetalous Zinnias

  • Posted by zenman Ottawa KS 5b (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 7, 12 at 10:54

Hi Christie,

"So if I collected seeds from the apetalous flowers and grew those, I might still get a high percentage of those again?"

Actually, I have never done that, so I can't say for sure what you would get. The apetalous flowers are normally pollinated by bees with a special inbred male strain to create F1 hybrids with known characteristics. Yours will be pollinated by any pollen bearing zinnias in your immediate area, which could conceivably include some of your neighbor's zinnias.

From your picture, it looks like at least one of your apetalous zinnias might be producing pollen of its own, and if that is the case, it probably will produce a high percentage of apetalous progeny. But I think there is a possibility that at least some of your apetalous specimens will be male sterile, and give you an interesting bunch of random F1 hybrid zinnias.

In commercial packets of open pollinated mixed colors of zinnias, you are actually getting a percentage of random F1 hybrid zinnias, between "normal" petal-bearing zinnias, courtesy of the bees. Even in separate colors, like say, for example, a packet of white zinnias, the bees provide you with a percentage of white-on-white F1 crosses, which you don't notice as F1 hybrids, because both parents were very similar. Separate colors of zinnias are grown in separate, separated fields, to maintain color purity, and some seed growers even hire people to go into the fields and kill any "rogue" zinnias of another color.

When you are growing several kinds of zinnias, you can "be the bee" and hand pollinate your own crosses. This is another of my hand pollinated crosses that had a similar color pattern to Zowie, but without the tall pollen-bearing cone.

That one was a cross between a Whirligig and a large dahlia flowered zinnia. Whirligigs are an interesting strain to grow. They have many bi-color and tricolor color combinations and color patterns on their petals. And their petal shapes vary some, too.

When you decide to do some hand pollinating to make crosses of your own, you are free to cross any two zinnias in your garden. So, in that respect, you have a lot more freedom than the seed companies, who must first inbred a male strain for years and use an apetalous strain as the female. But there is nothing to keep you from putting some zinnia pollen on your apetalous specimens as an experiment. Who knows what you might get? Finding out might be fun.

ZM



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