Crossing Zinnias Question

jmcdmdJuly 16, 2012

I'm going to let nature do the crossing. My question is this: What two different types of zinnias would you recommend planting to get some nice crosses of seeds to plant for the next year? (My yard is small)

In other words are there two different zinnia types that cross well. [And I realize that there would be some crossing going on within the same type of zinnia as well...and that's okay].


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I like pretty much all kinds of zinnias, but for your limited space project, I would recommend that one of the two types you should try would be Whirligig. This is a picture of part of my Whirligig patch last year.

Whirligigs come in a variety of two-toned and even three-toned flowers, and you could make quite a bit of progress by just saving seed from your favorites. The Whirligigs from Stokes Seeds are more double, while the Whirligigs from Parks have more singles. Single Whirligigs can actually look quite good, with a daisy or gaillardia look. I just have a preference for double zinnias.

For a second commercial variety, I would recommend Burpee's Burpeanna Giants. They have big flowers and nice bush-like plants, and once again, even if they didn't cross with anything, saving seeds from your favorites would be making some real progress. This is a current specimen of mine that has Burpeeana and Whirligig ancestry.

Another zinnia that gives some very interesting crosses are the scabiosa flowered strains. None of them have commercial strains that have a high degree of purity, so you can expect a high percentage of off-type specimens with them, but they are a rather small zinnia (in flower size) that benefits from being crossed with larger zinnias. The advantage of adding a third zinnia to your mix is that you have three possible crosses versus only one for two types. And if you add a fourth type, the number of different combinations jumps to six. The more the merrier. This is one of my specimens with scabiosa flowered heritage.

The scabious hybrids either replace the usual yellow 5-star florets (which wither in a day or two) with colored long-lasting florets, or they can produce petaloids, which are a kind of cross between a petal and a floret. You can get some very full carnation-like flowers with petaloids, like in this specimen.

If you want to try scabious flowered zinnias, Thompson & Morgan carries two strains of them, the Scabiosa Flowered Mixed and the Candy Mixed. Just be aware that you will get a percentage of off-type specimens from either strain.

There are a mind-boggling number of crosses that you can make in zinnias. And there is nothing to prevent a bee from crossing one of your zinnias with one of your neighbor's zinnias. In general, zinnias are full of surprises. I really enjoy them.

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

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 1:01PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

is there anything to add???? .... lol


    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 1:38PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

ZM, you are such a gem.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 3:54PM
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