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Strange event in the zinnia bed

Posted by alisande Zone 4b (My Page) on
Sun, Aug 29, 10 at 19:23

This year I planted three trays of 3" pots of zinnias, two varieties to a tray. The best germination by far came from the tray containing Isabellina (a cream-colored cactus type) and Exquisite (blooming red maturing to pink).

They lingered in their pots longer than I would have liked because I got sick in late May, but eventually they were all planted out. I saw lots of Exquisite in bloom, but not one Isabellina. I did see a great many bright yellow single zinnias. I remarked to people that I had many more yellows than usual, but it didn't occur to me until this morning that perhaps the yellows were actually Isabellinas gone awry.

I've read that some zinnias react to transplanting by reverting to the single form. Could they also change color? the Isabellina seed packet describes it as "creamy yellow." I would have called it "cream." The zinnias in my garden are a hot, school bus yellow--nothing creamy about them. Do you think they could be Isabellinas?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Strange event in the zinnia bed

Alisande,

"The zinnias in my garden are a hot, school bus yellow--nothing creamy about them. Do you think they could be Isabellinas?"

No. Cool weather can intensify zinnia colors, but Isabellina is a light pastel creamy color, sometimes very pale. What brand of seeds did you use?

ZM


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RE: Strange event in the zinnia bed

Hi Zenman - All my zinnia seeds were Burpee's except for Isabellina. I don't have those handy because I threw them away, but I think they were from NK. I see what you're getting at, and it makes sense.


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RE: Strange event in the zinnia bed

BTW, here's an example (complete with dead bug):


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RE: Strange event in the zinnia bed

alisande,
I was very excited to buy creamy yellow cactus flowered Isabellina from Northrup-King seeds myself. They turned out that bright chrome yellow in your photo and were certainly not a cactus form. I emailed a complaint yesterday.
I was disappointed in all of my commercially purchased Zinnia's this year. "Inca" and "Zahara Yellow" are the only two that matched their advertisements.
Alana


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RE: Strange event in the zinnia bed

  • Posted by zenman Ottawa, KS 5b (My Page) on
    Mon, Aug 30, 10 at 12:59

Alisande,

Nice picture. Somehow "bugs" frequently manage to show up in my zinnia pictures, too. I guess they just like to get their picture taken.

I think I remember seeing Isabellina in an in-store seed packet display, and it very well could have been Northrup King, as Alana suggested. None of the seed companies that I usually order from (Burpee, Parks, Harris, Stokes, Johnny's, ...) currently carry Isabellina, although some carry an un-named variety with essentially the same color, for example, Giant Dahlia Flowered Creamy Yellow. However, Isabellina is still available from some sources. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds is one such source. I think your packet of Isabellina seeds were somehow not true to type, in agreement with Alana's experience.

ZM
(not associated with any product or vendor mentioned)


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RE: Strange event in the zinnia bed

Nice shot, ZM!!

Alana, how interesting that the same thing happened to you! Obviously an NK error. I just looked on their website for an email address, but it might be easier (for me if not for you) to ask if you still have the one you used.

I rarely make an effort to color-coordinate my flowers, but in this instance my intention was to plant Exquisite and Isabellina together. Instead, we have red-pink Exquisite next to the above yellow. Good thing there are no mistakes in nature, eh? :-)

This year I was happiest with Burpeeana Giants. Cactus-flowered and 6" across, they are just gorgeous. Maybe next year I'll plant just those and Burpee's Big Tetra Mix, another favorite of mine.

Here's one of the Giants. I was photographing it when a Monarch came along.


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RE: Strange event in the zinnia bed

  • Posted by zenman Ottawa, KS 5b (My Page) on
    Mon, Aug 30, 10 at 22:54

Alisande,

I agree with you about Burpeeanas. They are one of my favorite zinnias, because of their flower form and large flowers. Yours is quite impressively large, in comparison with that Monarch, which is not a small butterfly.

In the past I have seen advertisements for zinnias as large as 8 inches across, although I have never seen one that large. I have crossed Burpeeanas (and Burpee Giant Hybrids) with other zinnias, and I hope to eventually get a strain of even larger zinnias. I cross-pollinate various select zinnias with each other, and then cross those hybrids with each other. The results are all over the place, but occasionally a worthwhile specimen appears, like this one that bloomed a few weeks ago. It's in a "zinnia cage" to help protect it from our Kansas winds.

The petals that are hanging down are very long, and if they were standing out more or less horizontally, that bloom could be easily over 7 inches, perhaps 8 inches or more across. As it is, the petals are hanging down. They aren't wilted, they are just growing downward. I call that particular hybrid-of-hybrids my "Pink Shaggy Dog" and I hope to get some seeds from it, with the goal of getting a strain of "shaggy dogs" in all colors. Of course, I would also like to get a strain of extra big zinnias that actually were 8 inches or more across. I think super giant zinnias are possible.

You might want to save some seeds from your largest zinnia specimens and plant them next year. Just saving seeds from your best zinnias can, sooner than you think, make significant progress toward your own personal superior zinnia strains. For more information on that, see the ongoing "It can be fun to breed your own zinnias" message threads. Zinnias can be a fun hobby.

ZM


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RE: Strange event in the zinnia bed

ZM, that's gorgeous! Some of the new echinaceas with similar forms are very popular right now.

I may have to investigate some sort of support next year because I've lost quite a few of the long side branches. Don't know if it's wind or animals stepping on them -- or just the weight of the branch.

Also, what insects eat zinnia leaves? Some of the leaves look downright skeletal at this point.

I've been avoiding those zinnia breeding threads! It really does sound like fun. Every time I tell myself it's time to cut down on all my various projects and focus my attention on a select few, something new comes along to attract me.

This is not a great picture because I took it in bright sun yesterday, but I wanted to show you a clump of the pinks.


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RE: Strange event in the zinnia bed

  • Posted by zenman Ottawa, KS 5b (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 31, 10 at 11:33

Alisande,

The Burpeeana plant habit is another thing that I like about them. Given the opportunity, and a little early-on pinching, they can form beautiful mounded plants. The clump in your picture shows that tendency.

"I may have to investigate some sort of support next year because I've lost quite a few of the long side branches. Don't know if it's wind or animals stepping on them -- or just the weight of the branch."

I have in the past had serious damage from dogs, and even deer, just running through the garden, but fortunately that hasn't been a problem at our present rural Ottawa location. However, wind and storms have always been a source of damage for my zinnias, and because I am trying to breed and save seeds from select specimens, I use "re-purposed" tomato cages as zinnia cages to help protect my favorite plants.

Some zinnia plant forms have a "candelabra" structure that joins side branches to the main stem at a cantilevered 90-degree joint, and that is inherently weak. Some Burpeeana plants have that structure. I try to select toward a stronger angled branch attachment. That is a work in progress. Some zinnias have a very durable "tumbleweed" plant structure that I am trying to encourage by selecting and crossing for. Some of the scabiosa flowered or scabious zinnias have that good trait.

"Also, what insects eat zinnia leaves? Some of the leaves look downright skeletal at this point."

I have had some damage from flea beetles and nine-spotted cucumber beetles. Also a variety of caterpillars and "woolly worms", which I hand pick when I see them. Occasionally snails and slugs will do damage, and I use Sluggo to safely control them, and a sand mulch is preventative, because they don't like sand. We have a scary number of grasshoppers, but they seem to prefer grass. Fortunately deer don't have a taste for zinnias. I haven't used any insecticide yet, but the nine-spotted cucumber beetles worry me. Try to catch your culprits in action to identify them. Check at night with a flashlight for slugs, snails, earwigs, and such.

"I've been avoiding those zinnia breeding threads!"

When I am in a bookstore, looking at books as I like to do, and a store employee asks if they can help me, I usually say I am "just browsing". No reason you can't do the same in "those zinnia breeding threads". You would be most welcome to "lurk" or to just make comments or ask questions. However, zinnia breeding needn't take much of your time. It only takes a few minutes to save seeds from your favorite zinnias. Even a little cross-pollination can take only minutes. Those message threads do have a lot of pictures.

ZM


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RE: Strange event in the zinnia bed

Okay, you've convinced me. :-)

What do you think of State Fair? They were my first success with zinnias, many years ago. I planted some this year, but the germination seemed poor and I'm not sure how many made it to the garden. I have quite a few unidentified zinnias out there this year.

Also, what about Burpee's Big Tetra? Are they unsuited to breeding because of the way they themselves were bred? They're a favorite of mine.......here's a picture from a previous year:

And I keep seeing mention of Benary's giant zinnias. Finally found a place that sells the seeds (Van Dyke). Are they worth ordering?

Thanks, ZM!


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RE: Strange event in the zinnia bed

  • Posted by zenman Ottawa, KS 5b (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 31, 10 at 17:11

Alisande,

Benary's Giants were specifically bred in Germany for the cut flower trade. They have long strong stems for that reason, and come in a variety of separate colors. People who grow zinnias as cut flowers grow them like a farm crop, in rows planted by some kind of mechanized seeder. The central blooms are harvested like a crop and sold to the florist trade, or sold in those farm markets alongside tomatoes and corn. As it happens, Benary's Giants can also function in the home garden or landscape. Their sturdy cut-flower stems can be useful in that role as well.

Johnny's Selected Seeds is a seed company that caters to market gardeners as well as home gardeners, and they have a good selection of zinnias that are suitable for market gardeners. I would probably shop there first for Benary's Giants, although there are several other good seed companies that carry them. For the cut flower growers, Johnny's has a couple of pages of Benary's Giants as well a page of Giant Dahlia Flowered zinnias.

This is nearing the end of the 2010 season, so several items are out-of-stock. It's time now to start thinking about the 2011 season. I can't wait to see those new seed catalogs.

Incidentally, Parks Seed Company is also good for flower seed, but they "re-badge" Benary's Giants as "Parks Picks". Knowing that might keep you from a needless duplication in your zinnia seeds. Harris Seeds also carries some Benary's Giants. I also like Stokes for zinnia seeds and they carry some Benary's Giants. They also carry "Burpeeanas" (there is a history behind that), but I prefer to get mine directly from Burpee.

As you know, Burpee's Big Tetras, like State Fair, are tetraploids. If you cross them with diploid zinnias, you would get sterile triploid zinnias. That might be an interesting experiment. Seedless watermelons and all "store bought" bananas are also sterile triploids. I have stayed with mostly diploid zinnias to avoid compatibility problems. I guess, in that regard, I am still a "beginner".

ZM
(not associated with any product or vendor mentioned)


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RE: Strange event in the zinnia bed

alisande, I used the "contact us" link on NK's homepage. So far, I have had no response.
Alana

Here is a link that might be useful: NK contact link


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RE: Strange event in the zinnia bed

I received a reply today, of sorts. I feel almost like I do when I need to contact my cell phone company.
They were sorry they could not address my issue because they can only discuss corn/soybean issues.
I was directed to this website. I don't have time to check it out today, but I will later.
http://www.syngentaflowersinc.com/


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RE: Strange event in the zinnia bed

First of all, Zenman, thanks so much for the info and all those links. I plan to emphasize zinnias even more in the coming years because as I get older it's relatively easy for me to pull up annuals when they're done and cover the weeds with cardboard for the next year. Besides, I love zinnias.

Alana, that's almost funny: They can only discuss corn/soybean issues?? I checked out the website. Their "Uproar" zinnia looks quite nice:

I wonder if it comes true to seed, or if it will produce 2" single blooms in chartreuse?

I dropped them an email, BTW. We shall see.....

Susan


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