Profusion zinnia seed not germinating

donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)April 2, 2009

I saved seed from two colors of Profusion zinnias this year for the first time. I stored them in white envelopes in the refrigerator over the winter. I have sown two flats over the past three weeks and I am getting very very poor germination rates. So poor, in fact, that I just ordered seed from a seed company. Any idea what might have gone wrong?

FYI I sowed them into six packs in sweat boxes. Some inside under lights. Some outside. The outside ones have done better, but not by much. I have grown these plants before from seed with great results. I am stumped.

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zen_man

DB,

"I stored them in white envelopes in the refrigerator over the winter ... Any idea what might have gone wrong? "

The cool temperature was good, but if the white envelopes were paper, they formed no moisture barrier and allowed the relative humidity to be high, which is not good. I use Snack Size Ziploc® bags, and 3x5 cards.

I typically get about 50% germination, which is partially due to my technique for saving seeds. I don't have access to the special winnowing equipment that commercial seed companies have.

ZM

    Bookmark   April 3, 2009 at 2:27AM
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calistoga_al

While I also would not store seeds in the refrigerator in paper bags, for a different reason. A modern refrigerator does not have a high humidity but an evaporative environment. Most of us can attest to the fact that ice cubes left long enough in todays refrigerator will be completely evaporated away in a few months. Zinnia seeds will keep perfectly well for a year or two at room temperature. Al

    Bookmark   April 5, 2009 at 8:43AM
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zen_man

Al,

Those conditions exist in a freezer or freezer compartment, but not in a refrigerator.

ZM

    Bookmark   April 5, 2009 at 11:21AM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

So...I would have done better to keep them in a plastic bag at room temp? I thank you both for the info, and for a bit more clarification. I want to get it right next year. :)

    Bookmark   April 5, 2009 at 9:53PM
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calistoga_al

Zenman, sorry to have to disagree. As one retired from the refrigeration industry, I can tell you with only rare exceptions(Sub Zero comes to mind)the air circulated in the refrigerator is the same air as in the freezer and just as dehydrating. Al

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 8:58AM
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kioni(3)

Just more info for you to look at.

Another website (Dave's Garden) following the profusion series has some posters saying the seed can be successfully saved, and others have entered that the seed produced by the profusion series are infertile. I've grown the white, but never tried to save the seed. This year I'll be trying the 'pinwheel', which in the last thread of this link says that they are close cousins to the profusion. If I like the 'pinwheel', I would like to try to save the seed also. They are a mix of colours, would be nice to be able to separate, but I know with cross pollination, that will be next to impossible.

Have a great day,
kioni

Here is a link that might be useful: Profusion seed keeping

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 10:02AM
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holtzclaw(z7 GA)

Your 'Pinwheels' should only be able to cross with one another and with any 'Profusions' or 'Knee Highs' growing nearby. These three varieties have the same number of chromosomes.
Other zinnias only have about half as many chromosomes.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 12:28PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Thanks,kioni and all for your responses. The link is interesting, but raises more questions than it answers. I think I am glad that I went ahead and ordered seed. :)

I would still love to hear from someone who has saved Profusion seed successfully:
What were your planting results?
Germination rates?
Under what conditions did you store your seed?

I can say that even with purchased Profusion plants, I have noticed several times that there will inevitably be one or two plants in a batch that will exhibit different growth habits. The blooms are usually the same, but the plants will have longer, leggier stems than the others. Perhaps this is because they are an F1?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 11:50AM
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duchesse_nalabama

hi, I saved profusion seeds over the winter in a plastic baggie in my unheated garage. I sowed them recently in plastic pots uncovered outside. The germination % was pretty high, as all the pots had a seedling or two pop up, but I didn't keep track of how many seeds I sowed. hth.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 11:01PM
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zen_man

DB,

"Perhaps this is because they are an F1?"

Actually, Profusions are not F1 hybrids, but are open pollinated, so they should come true from seed. Profusions, Zaharas, and Pinwheels are all of hybrid origin, but they aren't hybrids now.

ZM

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 12:21AM
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calistoga_al

My Zinnias, several varieties including profusion, are grown all mixed together. I have saved seed which I have planted this year. The seed was stored in plastic air tight containers saved from the Diabetic test strips by my wife. Kept in room temperatures and 100% germination of all seed planted so far. I have no clue as to what the plants and their bloom may look like, but I am sure I will like them. Al

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 9:25AM
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zen_man

Zinnia seeds are relatively long-lived in decent storage conditions. Hill Gardens of Maine list the longevity of zinnia seeds as 5 - 6 years. Slugs and Salal say that "At the other end of the seed longevity scale are durable longtimers such as zinnia, nasturtium, salpiglossis, cucumber, squash, cantaloupe, watermelon and beet, which will commonly keep in good viable condition for six years or more."

The Master Gardeners Testing Seeds for Germination article says "Marigold seeds can last for three years, and zinnia and nasturtium seeds for up to seven years." Plant Breeding For The Home Gardener says, "Some long-lived seeds include zinnia, petunia, and lotus."

I think a lot of factors affect how long your zinnia seeds can last, but in general I think it is long enough to make it worthwhile to save seeds from your favorite zinnias, which could be the beginning of a worthwhile hobby of growing and breeding your own zinnias.

ZM

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 11:21AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Donna, the solution to your germination problem has been touched on by some of the above comments. 1) Modern refrigerators are much too dry and won't maintain the humidity level required for the survival of seed, when stored in a paper bag. 2) Zinnia seeds do not have to be refrigerated, period.

Zinnias and many other dehiscent seeds can be stored under cool, dry, and dark conditions. My father always rolled his in a dry paper towel which he then placed in a closed (air tight) jar on a shelf in an unheated basement or garage.

If I saved my Profusion seeds (which I don't), I'd follow pretty much the same routine, though I'd keep the jar in the pantry.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 12:27PM
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