trouble growing saved candy stripe zinnia seed

jaym1818June 13, 2014

I grew candy cane/candy stripe zinnias from purchased seed last year and saved all the seeds and from a huge bed I made for them this year only a few have grown, any ideas? I'm pretty disappointed :(

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

did you check if they were sterile.. many very fancy types are ...

and i do not believe.. they come true from seed.. even if they werent..

better go buy some new ones.. and sow them fast ... plenty of time left


    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 8:24PM
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I sowed a packet of 100 candy stripe zinnia seeds, and have only 5 plants from that packet... they haven't bloomed yet but the buds don't even look candy striped. :( They look plain red.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 11:14PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Candy Stripe is not a foo foo hybrid, but considered an heirloom plant. It can interbreed with other zinnias if exposed, but the second generation of seed should present a good number of Candy Stripe zinnia. Each generation after will decline in those particular characteristics if other zinnia's genetics come into play.

But we don't know a thing about your seed collecting, storing, and planting. Lots and lots of things can go wrong.

Desirai, you can't tell about the pattern and color of this zinnia from the buds.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 12:37PM
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thanks everyone so far for the input. rhizo_1- Yes they were in a bed with other zinnias so interbreeding is a possibility. I let the seed heads dry on the plants so i didn't collect them too early or anything, I stored them in plastic sandwich bags in my basement inside of a small plastic storage bin i have for all my seeds and supplies. I planted them in a nice 6'x8' raised bed with good soil and drainage and planted the seeds roughly 1/4-1/2 inch deep, i loaded this whole bed up with seeds collected from last years plants which were grown from the purchased seeds which grew extremely well and all true candy striped. Wanted to make this bed a cutting area for my wife and almost nothing germinated.I even added more seeds in after next to nothing happening after a month of the first seeding. Really stumped as to what went wrong, I just made a new temp bed to sow some more to test more of the seeds so we'll see what happens with those. Just thought i'd ask if there was any known history of people having trouble growing collected seeds from this variety, again appreciate the input, thanks, jason

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 6:36PM
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Hi Jason,

It may be that the seeds you saved are not viable because they were not pollinated. Do you remember if you had a lot of bees on your candy cane/candy stripe zinnias last year?

A 6' x 8' bed is not very large. Assuming you want your zinnia plants to be about a foot apart, that would require a total of only 6 x 8 = 48 viable seeds. Each seed could be at the center of its own square foot. You could get that many zinnia seeds in a single packet. You could avoid the uncertainty of whether your saved seeds were viable or not by simply buying another packet of the same seeds.

"I let the seed heads dry on the plants so i didn't collect them too early or anything,"

I am a zinnia hobbyist and I breed my own zinnia hybrids, so I do a lot of zinnia seed saving, shucking, and packaging. I use Snack sized Ziploc bags and I enclose a 3x5 card containing specific information about the seeds in that bag. A 3x5 card fits nicely in a Snack sized bag. It sounds like you may have done something similar. However, I usually save my seeds as green seeds and dry them for a week or more before packaging them in the Ziplocs. The green seed technique has several advantages. You minimize the risk of seed eating birds and you avoid the risk of rains causing water damage in dead brown zinnia seed heads. Brown zinnia seeds can get wet enough in the flower head to cause them to sprout in the head, Any pre-sprouted brown seeds won't grow.

It's worth while to learn to successfully save and grow your own zinnia seeds. You might find a special zinnia that you would want to grow as your very own zinnia variety. But for the time being, with just a 6 x 8 raised bed, buying another packet of seed is doable. Incidentally, have you considered the Peppermint strain of zinnias? It has a wider color range than the Candy Cane/Candy Stripe zinnias.


    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 12:27AM
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Hi again Jason,

You might be interested to know that occasionally a striped zinnia shows up in "regular" zinnia packets. For example, this specimen showed up in a packet of Whirligig zinnias in my garden a couple of years ago.

Those surprise striped zinnias look significantly different from the commercial striped varieties. Incidentally, you can see a larger version of that picture when you click on that picture. When the larger picture opens in its own window, you can hit the F11 key to hide that window's heading, which makes the entire window available to the picture. When you are finished viewing the picture, you can hit the F11 key again to reveal the window's heading, making it convenient to close the window so that you will be back here. The larger pictures show considerably more detail than the smaller 550-pixels-wide pictures that we are limited to here in these GardenWeb forums.


    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 1:12AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Awesome, ZM! What a great zinnia! I was hoping that you'd jump in to help Jason.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 1:44PM
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Thank you zenman, thats a great looking zin!
I have many more beds and gardens around my property other than the one i mentioned with just the saved candy seeds. So I do have much more of an "operation" going on besides the single bed otherwise yes buying one packet of new seeds would solve my problem.
I have the candy seeds and many other zinnia varieties all over my property, I enjoy growing from seed and try to grow and collect seed as much as I can thats why this issue was very upsetting for me, I was hoping to make the one dedicated bed with the saved candy seeds just a cutting area.
I actually did purchase both peppermint and candy stripe last year, I thought they were the same just called one or the other. From the pictures they look like the same strain to me, glad to know now that there is a difference!

I have these seeds and gardens at my "project" property that i'm only at and working on occasionally, not a full time residence yet, but now that you mention it i didn't notice a whole lot of bee activity when i was there, so that very well could be the problem.
I'm also glad to hear saving green seed is ok, I believe I read that in your "it can be fun to breed your own zinnias" posts, enjoyed reading through some of those, have alot more to look through!

Thanks very much for your help & suggestions, its much appreciated, i'd love to be just like you and grow/breed some interesting new zinnias! Good luck with yours this year!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 5:01PM
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Hi Jason,

" I enjoy growing from seed and try to grow and collect seed as much as I can that's why this issue was very upsetting for me, ... I'd love to be just like you and grow/breed some interesting new zinnias! "

Since you are already growing quite a few zinnias and saving seed from them, you are already doing the main things necessary to be breeding your own zinnias.

If your seed sets are sparse because of insufficient bee presence, you can "be the bee" and do the self-pollinating and cross-pollinating yourself. When my zinnias are in bloom, I am "busy as a bee" picking pollen florets and applying their pollen to likely female recipients. You can get some heavy seed sets of viable seed that way. Arm yourself with the necessary tweezers, twissors, or forceps necessary to pick florets and apply their pollen to petal stigmas. Find a way to label the blooms that have been pollinated or cross-pollinated. (I use green Velcro tape and permanent markers for that.)

You might want to get some sort of notebook or scrapbook to record details from your day-to-day zinnia activities. It could be a water proof three-ring binder with water proof paper (I use something like that because I got caught in rain or the sprinkler several times while using a regular three-ring binder.) I plan to make a scrapbook of my breeder zinnia pictures.

Keep a close eye on your zinnias, noticing as many details about them as you can. Zinnias can differ in some very subtle ways and in some ways not so subtle. Form you opinions about them. You might want to discard some zinnias that you don't like. Pollinate or cross-pollinate the ones that you do like.

By picking green seeds from your favorites and immediately planting them, you have a shot at getting two generations in a growing season. It is always exciting and suspenseful when zinnias of your own creation start blooming out. This could be the year that you adopt zinnias as a hobby. I will try to answer any questions you might have about this zinnia hobby, but if you communicate over in the "It can be fun to breed your own zinnias" message threads, you can have the benefits of the viewpoints of several people. I am learning more about zinnias all the time. Zinnias are full of surprises. Experimenting with them can be fun.


This post was edited by zenman on Mon, Jun 16, 14 at 15:24

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 1:38AM
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Hi ZM, thanks very much for taking the time to share that information, I will definitely be pollinating a bunch myself this year! We can't be having this disapointment of seeds not growing!!
If you could just clarify for me on picking the green seeds, are those ready as soon as the bloom is in full bloom or do you wait for it to fade?
Thanks again

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 7:09PM
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Hi Jason,

"...clarify for me on picking the green seeds, are those ready as soon as the bloom is in full bloom or do you wait for it to fade? "

The green seed is usually fully developed about 3 weeks after the seed is pollinated. You can tell when the seed is pollinated by the appearance of the stigma. The stigma will die and shrivel when it is pollinated. If it is not pollinated it will stay yellow and keep its shape. You have a window of maybe a week in which to get a stigma pollinated.

A zinnia bloom can develop over a period of weeks, in which new petals appear above the older petals. For that reason the green seeds aren't all ready at the same time. The lower ones will be ready first because they were the first petals to appear with receptive stigmas.

My original motivation for picking green seeds was to get a new generation of zinnias started as soon as possible. So I would pick the lower petals first, breach the seed coat, and plant the seed. In that scenario, the seedlings from the first row of petals could be getting a set of true leaves while the original bloom was still putting out new petals.

If you are picking the green seeds to dry them and store them, then you don't need to be in so much of a hurry to pick the original row of petals. You may want to wait until maybe two thirds of the bloom have ripened green seeds before you harvest the green seeds from the head to dry them for storage. If seed eating birds are present, you may want to pick the seeds as soon as they get ready, in order to beat the birds to the seeds. If you see a bunch of zinnia petals on the ground under a zinnia plant, it's likely that the birds beat you to the seeds. Sometimes I put a "hairnet" over a choice breeder bloom to protect the bloom from the birds.

It is fairly easy to distinguish "good" green seeds from "bad" green seeds that won't or can't germinate because they don't have an embryo inside.

The "bad" green seeds are the ones which are empty and do not contain a viable embryo. If you want really quick turnaround getting a next generation seedling from a green seed, you can actually remove the embryo and plant embryos instead of seeds. I planted two flats of embryos indoors last Fall in order to get a quick start on my indoor zinnia growing project.

I grew two generations of zinnias last Winter and planted seeds from that second indoor generation outdoors this Spring. Some seedlings from those seeds are budding out and a few of that third generation are now in bloom. All of that thanks to green seeds.


    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 1:09AM
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Thanks again ZM, I appreciate you taking the time to explain in great detail

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 6:24PM
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