zen_man

It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 54

zen_man
9 months ago
last modified: 9 months ago

Hello everyone,

Welcome to this ongoing series of message threads. The previous part of this continuing series, It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 53 has exceeded 100 messages, which could make that thread slow to load, even though photos now appear in the Houzz messages as only inline large thumbnails, so we are continuing the series here for yet another fresh start. The same guidelines apply here. Anything remotely related to zinnias is fine. (Or plant breeding in general, or feral cats or precocious cats or locusts or pet snails or chupacabras or book comments or whatever.)

My South Zinnia Garden is currently a snow covered remains. I harvested the breeder zinnia seeds that I wanted from it before conditions became Winter-like.

I will clean it out completely before re-making it next Spring. There will be some significant differences in my breeder zinnias next year.

As always, I look forward to your participation here if you are new to this series of message threads, or to your continued participation if you have been here before. Your comments, questions, and photos are welcome. More later.

ZM

Comments (112)

  • zen_man
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Welcome to this zinnia thread, Severe_Novice,

    That is a nice picture. I have incorporated Benary's Giants in my zinnia genetic mix because they have both big blooms and big plants. I have grown the Giants of California strain for the same reason. You can get a wide range of colors in the Benary's Giants, including some dark ones.

    In my zinnia breeding I would like to get darker colors than even that. The closer to black, the better. Just for the novelty of it.

    I am currently busy cross-pollinating zinnias in my zinnia patch. I was surprised to see some honeybees in my zinnias yesterday and today. As far as I know, none of my neighbors currently have a beehive. We live in a rural area. I suspect there is a "wild" beehive in some of the forested areas around the creeks in this area. I guess the typical wild beehive is in a hollow log or a hollowed place in a big dead limb. There are some of those in the woods. The bees are gathering nectar, and not pollen, so they aren't having a big effect on my zinnia breeding program. Again, welcome.

    ZM

  • Severe_Novice Zone 7B GA
    last month

    Thank you for the welcome, zen-man!


    I just discovered zinnias this year - my first time planting them from seed. I am not sure what breeding would involve, I am only at the first time growing stage.


    Just this morning I wrote this on the Rose forum - I'll cut and paste here. :)


    <I hope I won't offend the wonderful rose community with my ponderings :), but I am starting to find roses just like those supermodel, trophy, diva or aristocratic women. Gorgeous potential if you constantly cater to their whims with perfect conditions; but have one condition slightly less than ideal and you realize other plants, much less fussy, much harder working, and with less ego can be pretty enough. I see roses as the Elizabeth Taylors of the flower world.

    It's my first time ever trying zinnias and I didn't even know what I was doing - and still got much better crop compared to roses. It's true their overall appearance is a bit...well ...not-so-noble, but I can see the appeal. I adore very bright colors (which some call garish :) ) and reliability, and these work-horses function even with quite a bit of powdery mildew on them - which reminds me I need to spray them today.

    Granted, they could never replace roses just like simple, unpretentious human cuteness can't replace noble beauty. Sigh :) >


    Overall, I really love their bright, happy, carefree colors and noticeable presence - a perfect summer flower.

    I started a raised bed in the backyard this year as I had no other place for them in the yard.

    I didn't know about pinching them in the beginning and they grew too tall and lanky; but after the first crop, they got sturdier and now more blooms are coming through.


    What do people do to breed their own?

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  • zen_man
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Hello again, Severe_Novice,

    " What do people do to breed their own? "

    It can be very simple, like saving seeds from just your very favorite specimens. I am more of an enthusiast amateur zinnia breeder, and I do hand cross-pollinations of different types of zinnias, and I also look out for interesting variations that can occur in a patch of zinnias, and even mutations. I had a couple of mutant tubular petaled zinnias that I have crossed and inter-crossed extensively, and have gotten some zinnia specimens that you can't buy commercially. I also cross scabiosa flowered zinnias with "regular" zinnias to get some new types. This scabious hybrid reminded me of a water lily. As always, you can click on a pic to see a larger version.

    Other scabious hybrids remind me of Echinaceas.

    I cross hybrids with other hybrids repeatedly, to get recombinations of genes that produce new zinnia bloom styles.

    I refer to zinnia blooms like this as exotics

    I like the narrow tubular types that can look a bit like exploding fireworks..

    Others can resemble undersea lifeforms.

    There are a lot of new zinnia possibilities that you can create by repeated cross pollinations. And, like the title of the thread says, it can be fun to breed your own zinnias.

    ZM

  • Severe_Novice Zone 7B GA
    last month

    So interesting - and very pretty and unique specimens, indeed! :)

  • Fred Keese
    last month

    I find no pollen in freshly opened florets on many of my zinnias, making hand pollinating seemingly useless. I check for pollen by tapping a cut flower on a black surface and examining it. Usually nothing. Now I've begun to identify pollen bearing florets by watching which flowers the bees visit. These do produce pollen. This seems to be the best and only method that is working for now.

  • zen_man
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Fred,

    " I find no pollen in freshly opened florets on many of my zinnias, making hand pollinating seemingly useless. "

    That doesn't sound right. I have spent much of today primarily cross-pollinating selected breeder zinnias. A pollen floret opens in three stages. The closed floret emerges early morning, looking like a little light bulb (1), the fuzzy yellow arms unfold (2) (usually five of them, but other numbers are possible), and the internal stigma pushes up through the enclosing anther bundle pushing pollen grains out onto the fuzzy yellow arms and pollinating itself in the process (3).

    It sounds like you are picking your pollen florets at stage 2. There are two solutions to that problem. Have a cup or two of coffee and wait for stage 3. Or use tweezers with fine points and extract the anther bundle and rub it on female petal stigmas. I use both methods, sometimes simultaneously. I have a YETI insulated coffee cup that is my constant companion in the garden. And I have tweezers with very fine points, suitable for manipulating anther bundles. I recommend both, the cup and the fine point tweezers.

    incidentally, most bees have no interest in zinnia pollen. They, like the butterflies, skippers, day-flying moths, and hummingbirds, are after the zinnia nectar.

    ZM

  • woodnative
    last month

    ZM love your Zinnias. I am surprised bees don't collect Zinnia pollen and only nectar(?). Saw this honeybee on my Zinnia today.

  • zen_man
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Hi Chris,

    " I am surprised bees don't collect Zinnia pollen and only nectar(?) "

    Honeybees do occasionally collect pollen, to make "bee bread" or some such thing. I have never seen a Bumblebee or Carpenter bee do that. But if a bee is collecting pollen, there will be an obvious ball of collected pollen on the feet of its two hind legs. It has been literally years since I saw a pollen-collecting honeybee.

    Great picture, by the way. Is that zinnia a hybrid you made? Its bicolor nature suggests Whirligig ancestry. Or maybe it is just a Whirligig. This similar specimen is current in my garden.

    Most of my zinnias now have some Whirligig ancestry. This is a current "Exotic".

    A little bit of asymmetry there. I don't mind that. I have the lawn sprinkler going on my zinnia garden right now. Things have been hot and dry for the last few days.

    ZM

  • zen_man
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Hello again Severe_Novice,

    Your "ponderings" comparing zinnias with roses were very interesting. The rose thorns annoy me. I apparently can't get near a rose without getting stuck with a rose thorn, and they seem to have a toxic effect on me.

    There is no question that rose blooms are beautiful, and so far I haven't had any zinnia variations that resemble the rose flower form in any way. I guess the biggest contrast between the two is the size of rose petals compared to zinnia petals. Rose petals are like blankets compared to zinnia petals. And it is not just the petals. The structure of a zinnia bloom is completely different from a rose bloom. A zinnia bloom has a central cone to which the petals and pollen florets and "chaffy scales" are attached. A rose bloom probably has something akin to the central cone, to which the rose petals are attached. But roses and zinnias are definitely not closely related, genetically or in bloom structure.

    There are people who think that zinnia plants themselves should improve, and I agree with them. The book, "Flower Breeding and Genetics" edited by Neil O. Anderson, in Chapter 12, Zinnias, discusses getting zinnias to have narrower leaves could be an advantage, and some growers have expressed the opinion that pointed leaves would look better. I agree with both of those goals. Every now and then, if you germinate a lot of zinnias, you will see a plantlet with three cotyledons instead of the regular two, and occasionally this "plan of three" will continue up the plant. I refer to these "plan of three" zinnias as "threesies" and I have tried to breed for that trait, combined with pointed leaves, with some success. These are recent pictures of some of my "threesie" pointed leaved zinnia plants.

    You can see the three-leaf attachment a little better in this photo.

    The 3-leaf attachment is clearer in this photo, but the leaves are wider, which is less desirable.

    I do give the "plan of three" and narrow sharp-pointed leaves special attention when pollinating my zinnias. Progress has been slow, but there has been at least some. I still have a long way to go to make substantial improvements to my zinnia plants.

    ZM

  • Wouter Addink
    last month

    Hi, I am looking for someone who bred this, can it be Jackier_gardener? Do you know that person?


  • zen_man
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Hi Wouter,

    I can't access the zinnia group on Facebook because I am not a member of Facebook, and I don't plan to join any time soon.

    Yes, I believe Jackier_gardener is the breeder of the zinnia whose picture you showed. I believe we called them "Extreme Uprolls". I suggested to Jackier that she might some day make money from her Extreme Uprolls by selling seed stock to a seed company. I have attempted to breed uprolled zinnia petals on my own, because they have a nice different look, and their shape makes them much stiffer than regular zinnia petals. I have had some uprolled specimens, but none that I would call extreme, and none that are comparable to Jackier's .

    Jackier has not participated in this series of zinnia message threads in several years. We miss her participation here, but I assume she has found other activities that she prefers. I never met Jackier in person.

    ZM

  • cindip63
    27 days ago

    Hi Zen Man,

    I did not even realize we were on a hummingbird thread. Saying that, I have ordered some little tulle bags to put over blooms so the hummingbirds do not get to my flowers before I do. My hummingbirds love my zinnias as do the finches.


    I am thinking that my florets did not have any pollen because I did not see any (and I had my glasses on) So maybe the tulle bags will help. I will only leave them on there overnight or maybe 2 days if needed.


    I have also read that people will pollinate a flower with the same flower. Do people do that to insure the flower will look the same next year after saving the seeds.

    In the past I would have loved to do that. I have had some interesting zinnias in past years, some that volunteer in my yard.


    Thank you so showing me the photo of the floret with pollen.

    So if 7:30 might be too early, what is a good time? My hummingbirds are out and about as soon as it gets light out.

    I guess if I use the tulle bags, it will not matter what time.


    CP

  • zen_man
    Original Author
    27 days ago
    last modified: 27 days ago

    Hi CP,

    " I have ordered some little tulle bags to put over blooms so the hummingbirds do not get to my flowers before I do. My hummingbirds love my zinnias as do the finches. "

    The hummingbirds, like the butterflies, skippers, most bees, and day-flying moths, are after the zinnia nectar, and could care less about the pollen. The wing-beats of the hummingbirds might blow the pollen around some, as could a windy day, for that matter. The finches want to eat your zinnia seed, at pretty much in any stage of the seed development, and the finches will literally tear a zinnia bloom to pieces to get at the seeds. Your tulle bags will probably give some credible protection from the finches. I have a lot of zinnias and bagging them would be difficult for me. l currently use reflective pinwheels as a bird deterrent or repellent. They seem to work, although I can't be certain they are the reason the finches have been avoiding my garden. The hummingbirds don't seem to mind the pinwheels.

    " I have also read that people will pollinate a flower with the same flower. "

    Yes, that makes a lot sense. If you have a really good zinnia you don't want the bees crossing it with a really bad specimen. I deliberately selfed a couple of zinnias an hour ago.

    " So if 7:30 might be too early, what is a good time? My hummingbirds are out and about as soon as it gets light out. "

    My hummingbirds also probably visit my zinnia garden before I do, although they seem to spend a lot more time on the feeders than on the zinnias. I don't consider them a problem. You can pollinate zinnias pretty much all day. Make it easy on yourself. Take some kind of chair along if one is available and there is room for it. Incidentally, if it is convenient, you might want to pick up a few reflective pinwheels and mount them on stakes in your garden.

    Just in case they are needed, and in case they work for you. Finches can do a lot of damage to zinnias. I got a lot of my pinwheels at the Dollar store. My son recently bought some slightly better ones for me from Amazon. I have a dozen pinwheels spinning in my garden now. So far, no finch damage. Fingers crossed.

    ZM

  • cindip63
    27 days ago

    Hi Zen Man,


    The pinwheels are a great idea. Finches are a problem, I let them have my sunflowers hoping they would leave my zinnias alone. But they have not.


    I do not know why I thought the pollinating needed to be done early. I would prefer to wait a litte later, at least until I have had some coffee.

    I have a chair that I can use, and will need to use if a zinnia has a short bloom.


    Thanks again. I am learning new things each day.


    CP

  • zen_man
    Original Author
    27 days ago
    last modified: 27 days ago

    Hi CP,

    Several years ago I discovered the convenience of a Tractor Scoot rolling seat in the garden. I do 90% of my zinnia pollinating work while seated in a comfortable tractor style seat. I start the morning by pulling my rolling tractor seat from the garage, where it spends the night, to the garden, and end the day by pulling it back to the garage. It has a place for a bucket to contain garden tools and I purchased one of those TubTrug containers for its increased carrying room.

    Deluxe Tractor Scoot with Bucket Basket

    I have had my tractor scoot for many years, and the inner tubes in its tires have starting having persistent leaks. Patches are only a temporary fix. Apparently their rubber has become "rotten". This Winter I will replace the tubes. In the meantime I have purchased a competitive model with "flat free" tires and I am using it for the time being. Its seat height is a bit more adjustable, but the pulling handle isn't as flexible as the one on the original Tractor Scoot. Their seats are close to identical.

    Leonard Garden Scoot with Flat Free Tires

    I may look into finding replacement flat-free tires for my Tractor Scoot. Gardener's Supply also has a less expensive rolling seat without all the features of the Tractor Scoot. And it has smaller tires.

    Rolling Garden Seat with Turnbar

    But I like the added features of my Tractor Scoot, and plan to stick with it. And continue to use my Leonard Garden Scoot as a backup.

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

  • cindip63
    26 days ago

    Hi Zen Man,


    That kind of seat is really nice. I could really use one of those when I sit out and photograph hummingbirds.

    Thank you for the links, as I get into zinnia breeding, I just might need to get one of these.


    CP

  • cindip63
    26 days ago

    Those are very nice seats. I could use one of those when I photograph hummingbirds.



  • zen_man
    Original Author
    26 days ago
    last modified: 26 days ago

    Hello CP

    Photographing hummingbirds is a bit of a challenge. How fast can the shutter go on your camera? My old Nikon D3200 can go only to 1/4000th. Hopefully my next camera will be able to go to 1/8000th.

    I noticed seemingly good amounts of available zinnia pollen this afternoon. This photo is my "latest" attempt to photograph zinnia pollen florets. As always, click on the photo to see the larger version.

    The floret stigma on the lower floret is farther along than the floret stigma on the upper floret. I am not sure what those light colored objects are in the upper left corner of the photo. They may be individual pollen grains that have germinated. I don't remember what the pollen grain "root" is called. Pretty sure it is not "root". I should look that up, but I am feeling a bit lazy. It was hot and dry today, and yet there was a lot of pollen availability mid to late afternoon. More tomorrow.

    ZM

  • cindip63
    25 days ago

    Hi Zen Man,


    If your camera goes to 1/4000, that is more speed than you need. I normally use 1/2000 or 1/2500. That is fast enough to freeze the wings.


    That is a great macro photo of florets and it show the pollen. So the pollen is on the floret stigma. Now I know what to look for.

    I think I might have been going out too early. I thought the bees had beaten me to the pollen, but maybe that was not it.


    It has been hot here too, not too dry lately though. I live in North Carolina and we really get the heat and humidity.


    CP

  • zen_man
    Original Author
    25 days ago
    last modified: 25 days ago

    Hi CP,

    That is good advice about photographing hummingbirds on the wing. I will give it a try with my "old" Nikon D3200.

    Another subject. You have probably read enough of these "It can be fun" message threads to know that I also grow zinnias indoors under lights in Late Fall, Winter, and Early Spring. You might want to consider that yourself. Lighting technology has undergone big changes in recent years and this link is to one of the few up-to-date books on

    Gardening Under Lights

    You can use the Amazon Look Inside feature to sample the book's material. I have the book and it tells me how much I am "behind the times" with my T8 fluorescent lights setup. In my defense, I purchased my lights in the 2005-to-2010 time-frame, when T8 lights were obsoleting the much older T12 fluorescents. I continue to use my T8s even though they are obsolescent, simply because I have them and they still work reasonably well and they were a significant investment. My T8 bulbs were rated for 20,000 hours, and that is a reasonably long period.

    I start my indoor zinnias in 3-inch square plastic pots, and (usually) re-pot them to 5-inch pots as needed and I have some larger 8-inch pots to use if needed. Actually, zinnias can grow shamefully large in 3-inch pots.

    Those zinnias should have been re-potted long before they reached that stage. Oh well, I am not a perfect indoor zinnia grower. But it does feel good to know that I will planting some of the seeds I am pollinating today in time to see their blooms before Christmas. More later. Namaste.

    ZM

  • cindip63
    25 days ago

    Hi Zen Man,

    I think it would be fun to grow zinnias inside during the winter. If I had an area I could make a setup I would. My house is not huge and I have so much clutter. If I could clean out some stuff, I might could do this. Thank you for the info on it. I might give it a try if I ever clear out an area.

    Those zinnias look nice to be grown indoors.


    I read in an earlier thread about some zinnias needing calcium. Would crushed egg shells be good for zinnias? I use those to put around little seedlings in flower pots because slugs will eat the seedling. Slugs do not like to slide across the broken shells. I hope the egg shells are beneficial to the plants.



    CP

  • zen_man
    Original Author
    25 days ago
    last modified: 25 days ago

    Hi CP,

    " I read in an earlier thread about some zinnias needing calcium. Would crushed egg shells be good for zinnias? ... I hope the egg shells are beneficial to the plants."

    Well, the crushed eggshells are beneficial if they protect from slugs. However, plants need a lot of Calcium, and it is considered to be a macronutrient right under the classic Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium. And yet none of the commercial soluble formulas contain any Calcium. What? Commercial soluble nutrients don't contain any Calcium because, if they did, the Calcium would immediately react with the Phosphorous in the formula to form insoluble Calcium phosphate and two of the four most important elements for plants would become inaccessible.

    What to do? Do as the hydroponic growers do and buy Calcium nitrate. Calcium nitrate is highly soluble in water. I purchased Calcium nitrate by the pound from a hydroponics supply house and I use it to make a stock solution of Calcium nitrate, one Tablespoon per gallon. Fortunately, you can add the dilute Calcium nitrate stock solution to equally dilute soluble NPK stock solution and, magically, no precipitation occurs. And the plants love the stuff.

    ZM

  • cindip63
    25 days ago

    Thank you Zen Man

  • zen_man
    Original Author
    25 days ago
    last modified: 25 days ago

    Hi CP

    This is another photo of pollen florets.

    Pollen balls are visible in some of them. Nothing really new here, but I took the photo, so just as well post it. I have quit photographing zinnia florets for the time being.

    ZM

  • cindip63
    25 days ago

    Thank you so much, I know what to look for.

    You are getting good at photographing florets.

  • lisaboobie
    24 days ago

    I have just discovered your zinnia thread and I am going deep. Forgive me if you have covered this in any of your 53 posts:


    1. Hhow do you select attributes to cross? Are you able to predict the outcomes?


    2. Or maybe this should be "1"--I am growing a large hybrid variety (bred in 1988) that is necessarily mildew resistant. How do I go about trying to produce seeds for the same look of a flower I have and like? Is there a way to cross such that the flower produces a seed true to its parent? I was going to try overwintering cuttings, but in your post you discussed the likelihood of various contaminants foiling that pursuit.


    Thanks for all the informative lessons and information!


    Lisa

  • zen_man
    Original Author
    24 days ago
    last modified: 24 days ago

    Hi Lisa,

    " How do you select attributes to cross? Are you able to predict the outcomes? "

    I select zinnias that have unusual variations to use as breeders. I can predict that a cross may have interesting features, with the possibility of there being new features. But I have a saying that "zinnias are full of surprises", and I wouldn't say that if I were able to predict the outcomes.

    " I am growing a large hybrid variety (bred in 1988) that is necessarily mildew resistant. How do I go about trying to produce seeds for the same look of a flower I have and like? "

    Are you saying that you want a flower that looks different from the flower on the mildew resistant? Incidentally, the commercial Profusions and Zaharas aren't just mildew resistant, they are powdery mildew immune.

    " Is there a way to cross such that the flower produces a seed true to its parent? "

    Yes, it is a bit tricky, but you can create a haploid version of your zinnia, and it will be absolutely true breading. Until a bee flies in and pollinates your haploid with one of your neighbor's zinnias. Then you will have an F1 hybrid between your haploid zinnia and your neighbor's zinnia. And the bee won't tell you what pollen he used. Technology loses again.

    Just out of curiosity, do you know how many chromosomes your "necessarily mildew resistant" zinnia has? We need to talk more.

    ZM

  • cindip63
    23 days ago

    Hi Zen Man,

    I finally saw the pollen on my zinnia today so I tried to be a bee. haha


    I am seeing a couple of zinnias that I might like to try breeding and I have a question. How long does an open zinnia bloom have pollen? How many days?

    I have a small bud that I am thinking of pushing some pollen on and the florets that I want to use, well the blossom has been open for a few days and it looks like it will be a while before another blossom is open.


    Thanks so much,

    CP

  • lisaboobie
    23 days ago

    Thank you for your response. The zinnias I’d like to “clone” are Blue Point, or Benary’s Giant. I did a google search but did not find info on the number of chromosomes. I think to get the same flower in the next seed generation, I fertilize it with its own pollen. That’s how I interpreted “selfied.” For now, I want to get close to the same color, The same morphology, and get the mildew resistance. Alot to want, I’m sure. I haven’t done any other hybridizing, but I have hand pollinated my curcurbits. These are all for my own personal learning, and growing enjoyment.

  • zen_man
    Original Author
    23 days ago
    last modified: 23 days ago

    Hello CP,

    " How long does an open zinnia bloom have pollen? How many days? "

    It depends on several things, including how strong and well nourished the plant is and how healthy it is.. It could vary from a week to three weeks for a single bloom. But a healthy plant will put out more branches and more blooms. A healthy plant could give you a couple of months of pollination time. Maybe more.

    ZM

  • zen_man
    Original Author
    23 days ago
    last modified: 23 days ago

    Hello Lisa,

    " The zinnias I’d like to “clone” are Blue Point, or Benary’s Giant. I did a google search but did not find info on the number of chromosomes. "

    The Benary's Giant strain is Zinnia elegans (now referred to as Zinnia violacea in academic circles) Zinnia violacea was the wild flower from which ornamental garden zinnias were developed, and still are being developed, for that matter. They have 24 chromosomes and the majority of garden variety zinnias have 24 chromosomes. All zinnias with 24 chromosomes are inter-crossable. Every thing I work with has 24 chromosomes. That means I don't work with Profusions or Zaharas, which have 46 chromosomes.

    " I think to get the same flower in the next seed generation, I fertilize it with its own pollen. That’s how I interpreted “selfed.” "

    That's right. Pollinating it with its own pollen is selfing.

    " For now, I want to get close to the same color, The same morphology, and get the mildew resistance. Alot to want, I’m sure. "

    Not too much to want. It is debatable whether Benary's Giants are "mildew resistant". I haven't seen a definition of the term, just its use in advertisement descriptions. When you see your Benary's Giants covered with Powdery Mildew, will you feel happy that they "resisted" ? Incidentally, Powdery Mildew is probably not the worst disease that zinnias can have. But it is probably the most misunderstood. A common misconception is that it is caused by getting the zinnia foliage wet.

    But do you have a favorite color that you are selfing? Is it different from the separate colors that Benary's Giants are offered in? I am assuming that you are going after some color improvement that is not available by simply buying a separate color of Benary's Giants seeds.

    ZM

  • cindip63
    22 days ago

    Hi Zen Man,

    Thank you so much. Yes the plants are healthy and are putting on more buds. I just want to be sure that the bloom that I want to use will have some pollen. You answered my question. I guess I was really wondering if the blooms get more pollen after a bee has visited the bloom. I suppose this is basic information that in my old age, not remembering what I learned in school.


    What I am wanting to breed is 2 different looking zinnias that I saved from a plant last year. The last year's plant was a volunteer and I was not sure what it was. Now I believe it was a whirligig that I had planted a few years ago.

    One of them is more reddish with orange in the middle and a little yellow mixed in and the other one is yellow on the edges, then orange and then hot pink. I was just thinking maybe I could get all those colors on one bloom. Not sure if that is possible. But whatever I come up with might be interesting.



    CP

  • lisaboobie
    22 days ago

    Hi! I guess I am trying to save money and learn a new trick. My Benary’s Giant seed pack was a mix. When I plant my garden I like to do it by color, for instance in one garden, no oranges, reds or yellows, and in another, no whites. Not buying ten individual color seed packets and using the flowers I have would be great. I saved seed so carefully all summer before realizing this week that Benary’s was a hybrid. I love their size and colors and the way they spill over and change direction. They are loaded with finches and swallowtails and skippers and hummingbirds. My cucumbers grow right up them. So far no powdery mildew, against which I admit I am bigoted. All other zinnias Ive grown (7b/8 NC)

    have succumbed by this point in the calendar. I LOVE alllll your fotos. So exciting to see such artful outcomes. It‘s exciting to think down the road I might make new and unique cultivars.

  • cindip63
    22 days ago

    Hi lisaboobie,

    I am in NC as well. I live about 30 east of Charlotte.


    Cindi

  • Fred Keese
    22 days ago

    Zen Man, is there a good way to separate out viable seeds to keep and discard those that look like they won't germinate? I'm just yanking out a dozen petals and pinching them, discarding the thinnest ones. And the florets seeds look quite different, thinner, and many look like they can't possibly germinate.



  • zen_man
    Original Author
    22 days ago
    last modified: 22 days ago

    Hello CP,

    " I guess I was really wondering if the blooms get more pollen after a bee has visited the bloom. "

    Most bees are just after zinnia nectar (like hummingbirds, butterflies, skippers, and day-flying moths) and they may accidentally disturb the pollen some, but it remains after they leave. The pollen florets remain as good sources of pollen all day, even after multiple visitations by the nectar seekers. The fuzzy yellow fingers of the pollen florets are pretty good at retaining some pollen grains despite a lot of traffic from bees and such. You can pollinate and cross-pollinate with the pollen florets pretty much all day. It just takes a single pollen grain on a stigma to fertilize it.

    " I suppose this is basic information that in my old age, not remembering what I learned in school. "

    I don't think any of this was covered explicitly in school. We learned in school that bees pollinate, but not that they do it purely accidentally. But we learned to learn, and I think our teachers knew that was the real value of our "schooling".

    " What I am wanting to breed is 2 different looking zinnias that I saved from a plant last year. The last year's plant was a volunteer and I was not sure what it was. Now I believe it was a whirligig that I had planted a few years ago. "

    Volunteer zinnias have already proved that they are special, and Whirligigs are special in that they were derived from inter-species hybridization between Z. violacea and Z. haageana. Most of my breeder zinnias have at least some Whirligig ancestry, which qualifies them to be categorized as Zinnia hybrida. That may very well apply to your zinnias as well.

    " One of them is more reddish with orange in the middle and a little yellow mixed in and the other one is yellow on the edges, then orange and then hot pink. I was just thinking maybe I could get all those colors on one bloom. Not sure if that is possible. "

    It is possible.

    Tricolor zinnias are definitely possible. However, I have yet to see what I would consider a four-color zinnia bloom, but I suspect that is also possible.

    I am reminded almost every day that "zinnias are full of surprises".

    ZM

  • zen_man
    Original Author
    22 days ago
    last modified: 22 days ago

    Hello Lisa,

    " I guess I am trying to save money and learn a new trick. My Benary’s Giant seed pack was a mix. When I plant my garden I like to do it by color, for instance in one garden, no oranges, reds or yellows, and in another, no whites. "

    Well, it is not that expensive to purchase packets of separate colors of zinnias.

    " I saved seed so carefully all summer before realizing this week that Benary’s was a hybrid. "

    Benary's Giants are not an F1 hybrid. You can expect your saved seeds to be reasonably true. The pollinators may have given you a few bonus hybridizations, but you should be able to save zinnia seeds even better than the seed companies can afford to.

    " I love their size and colors and the way they spill over and change direction. They are loaded with finches and swallowtails and skippers and hummingbirds. My cucumbers grow right up them. So far no powdery mildew, against which I admit I am bigoted. "

    Well, nobody likes Powdery Mildew. But it is still Summer, at least for a few more days. Powdery mildew is more of a problem in the Fall, as the days get shorter and the nights get cooler. But keep us informed about how your Benary's Giants are doing. And don't be afraid to save seeds from your favorites. Check out the "green seed technique" discussed elsewhere in these "It can be fun" message chains.

    ZM

  • cindip63
    22 days ago

    Thank you Zen Man


    CP

  • lisaboobie
    22 days ago

    Hi Cindi! I’m right in the city. Had a great garden this year from an unusual amt of attention. Nowhere to go but outside. Are you near the drive-in movie place? We loved our few visits there this summer.


    Thanks Zenman! Such good news abt saving the Benary’s seeds. I have been saving green seeds with careful notes etc. Have also attempted some hand pollinating since first reading your thread.


    Lower leaves of a few zinnias have brown spots—fungus, virus? Nothing like what my basil, beebalm, columbine are experiencing. Full on yuk. I have ordered Eleanora basil seeds to try again. Supposed to be “resistant”. You suggest that zinnias either will or won’t get pwdry mildew, is that correct? I have alot to learn. After decades of gardening, it amazes me how much there is to learn.



  • cindip63
    22 days ago

    Hi Lisaboobie,

    I am 5 miles from the drive in.


    I am having some brown spots on some of my zinnia leaves too. I wonder if there is any way to keep this from happening.


    Cindi

  • zen_man
    Original Author
    22 days ago
    last modified: 22 days ago

    Hello Lisa,

    " You suggest that zinnias either will or won’t get pwdry mildew, is that correct? "

    We are all apparently raising 24-chromosome zinnias, so, yes, our zinnias are susceptible to powdery mildew, which is a fungus, and we are approaching the season when powdery mildew grows on zinnia foliage. Incidentally, I tried tetraploid zinnias as a possible way to solve the Powdery Mildew problem, and that didn't work -- the tetra zinnias got PM too.

    I took that picture on one of my indoor zinnias. There are several sprays you can use to prevent and kill Powdery Mildew. One commercial product is GreenCure, which is potassium bicarbonate and a proprietary wetting agent. GreenCure was relatively expensive (in my opinion) so now days i just use potassium bicarbonate and Physan as a wetting agent.

    ZM

  • cindip63
    21 days ago

    Hi Zen Man

    Do you think that Physan could help with this problem I am having on some of my zinnia leaves?




  • zen_man
    Original Author
    21 days ago
    last modified: 21 days ago

    Hi CP

    " I am having some brown spots on some of my zinnia leaves too. I wonder if there is any way to keep this from happening. "

    The brown spots could be a fungus disease. Photos might help us identify the disease. Not all zinnia diseases are from a fungus. There are also viral and bacterial diseases. I use a Bayer product that contains Tebuconazole as the active ingredient to treat and prevent fungal diseases on my indoor zinnias..

    Systemic Disease Control for Roses, Flowers, and Shrubs

    Absolutely do not use that on your vegetables or anything that you plan to eat, because the Tebuconazole is "systemic", which means that it is absorbed into the plant and travels everywhere in the plant. Being systemic is a good thing, because it protects the whole plant, and that includes the new growth for a reasonable period of time, before you need to reapply it. I use it on my indoor zinnias but not usually on my outdoor zinnias, because I have a lot of them and that product is rather expensive.

    ZM

  • lisaboobie
    21 days ago

    Hi Guys,


    Last year I grew one huge green pincushion Benary’s Giant zinnia. It made a shrub the size of a cubic yard, and each flower held its shape, not doming up like a muffin. I cannot for the life of me remember why just the one, I’m sure it was from a seed packet. Anyhoo, the foliage was healthy right to it’s frosty death, which is what made me think, these Benary gals are for me! If the small amt of spotting on them so far holds steady, and they don’t get any grey fuzz, I will consider marriage.


    I have seen three monarchs in three days, which is three more than last year. How are your monarch populations?


    Happy Friday!



  • cindip63
    21 days ago
    last modified: 21 days ago

    Hi Zen Man,

    I did include a photo in my last post. Thank you for the info.


    Lisa, I have several monarchs in my yard this year, more than in recent years.



    CP

  • lisaboobie
    21 days ago

    i’m so glad to hear it, Cindi! Maybe the reported increase in gardening is helping them? I remember when they would travel en masse, even here in the East, not 20 years ago.

  • cindip63
    21 days ago

    Hi Zen Man,


    I have another question, After the stigma shrivels and dies, how long will it be for a seed to be formed and I can save it?


    I am so thankful that you have so much knowledge and are so willing to share that knowledge.


    CP

  • zen_man
    Original Author
    21 days ago
    last modified: 21 days ago

    Hello Fred,

    " ...is there a good way to separate out viable seeds to keep and discard those that look like they won't germinate? I'm just yanking out a dozen petals and pinching them, discarding the thinnest ones. And the florets seeds look quite different, thinner, and many look like they can't possibly germinate. "

    Good question. There is a learning curve here, but you can gently squeeze a green zinnia seed between your thumb and forefinger to "feel" the embryo inside the seed. Seeds with undeveloped embryos will feel flat and empty. The embryo is not really a seed within a seed, but it feels a little like that. The embryo is actually just the baby plant with a pair of tiny cotyledons (seed leaves) and a tap root stub.

    As an experiment, you can remove the embryo from a green seed and plant just the embryo. I once planted a whole flat of embryos. This is a photo of some viable green seeds that have been dried, which turns them brown.

    This is a photo of some chaff with mostly floret seeds.

    This is a photo of some fairly freshly picked green seeds.

    The green seed technique has been invaluable to me in my zinnia project. I learned it from Jackie_R in a much earlier part of this "It can be fun" message series.

    ZM

  • zen_man
    Original Author
    20 days ago
    last modified: 20 days ago

    Hey everyone,

    I just noticed, we have exceeded the 100-message mark in this Part 54 thread, so let's continue this discussion over in

    It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 55

    I hope to see you all over there.

    ZM