Morning Glory mixes..... anyone?

niwahito(z5 IL)January 10, 2005

Last year, I put morning glories (2 types, a brilliant pink and a royal blue) around my house. They grew AMAZINGLY. I have a few questions. The HUNDREDS of seeds I collected from them will be (primarily) crosses, I assume. When two colors of MG cross, are the results generally stripes/polka dots/plaids with each color, or will they just "blend" or "alternate" colors (typically)? THIS year, I've scoured the internet and local providers and have collected about fifty (FIFTY!) different colors/types/varieties of MG, that I plan to put on every "climbable" space, mixed together. Has anyone else ever done this? What were the results? I'm assuming that, were I to do it for a few years they'd tend to revert to the pale blue, which is "native" (in much the same way that "fancy pigeons", crossed and recrossed, revert to grey with barred wings, and goldfish revert to less-colorful carp). If anyone has, e-mail me, and/or tell me about unusual varieties I might've missed!

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maineman(z5a ME)


"The HUNDREDS of seeds I collected from them will be (primarily) crosses, I assume."

Probably not. I would expect the majority of those seeds to be "selfed" unless one of the varieties happened to be male-sterile, which I think is improbable. It sounds like you are going to have an interesting variety of morning glories this year. I suggest that you hand pollinate your favorites in crosses of your choice and tag the individual seed pods with some kind of little tag with a code number and keep a journal of the code numbers with descriptions of the female and male plants for that code number. With about 50 varieties to start with, you probably won't have room or time to make all possible crosses, because that would be about 2500 different F1 hybrids. So you will just kind of have to use your intuition as to which crosses might produce the most interesting results.

Try to combine desirable traits. One flower might have a nice white edge, while another might have a toothed frilly edge, so you could go for a toothed frilly white edge. Or you might cross a small double with a big single in an effort to get a big double. (Toss those resulting small singles on the compost pile, unless they have some redeeming feature like a remarkable fragrance.)

If you have a digital camera and a color printer you could also paste in color pictures of the female and male parents for each numbered cross. Use a permanent pen, like a Sharpie, to write on the little tags. Or you could use embossed aluminum, for light weight. Attach the little tags with something that won't injure the vine -- possibly some jute cord. The idea is to make the tags small and unobtrusive, perhaps something like you might attach to a bird's leg to tag it.

"I'm assuming that, were I to do it for a few years they'd tend to revert to the pale blue, which is "native" (in much the same way that "fancy pigeons", crossed and recrossed, revert to grey with barred wings, and goldfish revert to less-colorful carp)."

If you just let nature take its course, there may be a reversion to a more dominant stock of some kind. But as an amateur plant breeder, you have the opportunity to intervene and keep that from happening. I did a similar thing with zinnias many years ago.

If you spend much time hand pollinating, at the end of this year you will have several dozen numbered seedpods, each with a small number of F1 hybrid seeds of your creation. You will get a chance to see firsthand the results of your various crosses next year and they will answer your questions about what happens when you cross various characteristics.

That will be when you need to get ruthless and pull out any morning glories that do not appeal to you, to make more room for those that do. If you keep a compost pile, it should fill up with discarded specimens that "did not make the cut." You will have room for only the best of the best and you can either self them to create F2 seeds or cross the F1 hybrids to create new F1 hybrids between unseen F2 variants.

A lot of genes are involved, so you will learn to "expect the unexpected." The number of genetic recombinations is astronomical. You may even have some interesting mutations and cross them into your hybrid combinations.

You will continue to have more seeds than you have room for, so you could share some of your hybrid seed. (But keep the best for yourself.) I think you may discover new flowers that nobody has seen yet and, by repeated selections of the best specimens, you can stabilize them into new named varieties that come true from seed.

When you find something really special, make sure it participates in creating a lot of seeds, both selfs and use its pollen in crosses with other good specimens. If you have a greenhouse to extend your growing season, you may wish to experiment with taking cuttings from particularly remarkable morning glories, in order to increase the number of their progeny.

Do use a digital camera to take pictures of your creations, for your own records and for posting here and elsewhere on the Internet.

If you have a camcorder, use that too. Flowers can have a special look when a breeze gives them movement, changing the patterns of light and shadow. Or visiting insects may animate the scene. And you can make comments as you record, for on-the-spot journal entries. And later you can "mine" your video footage for frame grabs of retroactive still snapshots for your journal or scrapbook or website.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2005 at 12:31AM
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keking(z6 TN)

I haven't tried breeding Morning Glories, as much as I like them. Anyone interested should visit Masashi Yamaguchi's web page linked below. He has some beauties, as well as some very odd "mutant" types.

Also, check out another page that is in Japanese but has some interesting pictures.


Here is a link that might be useful: Japanese Morning Glories

    Bookmark   March 14, 2005 at 4:44PM
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