How do you breed echinaceas?
Following the thread I opened about new echinaceas hybrids and the one opened by davemichigan on the subject of echinaceas, here are some questions I have for the more learned and experienced among you, if you can be so kind to give a poor guy a hand at learning something.
I have experience breeding several genus and types of plants and if I haven't done so in real life with some of them for several reasons, at least I know how it is done and I could easily do it right. But when it comes to composite flowers, I'm in complete darkness. My particular interest is for echinaceas and I would very much appreciate any detailled information as to how to proceed.
1- I know that what we call the "flower" is not really one but in fact made up of many tiny flowers. But these flowers don't open all at the same time. I suppose you must protect the bloom till you have pollinated the whole thing to keep it from being "contaminated" with other pollen than the one you want. Is this right?
2- I read that an echinacea flower can't be selfed, is this right?
3- I suppose that you don't pollinate each flower individually, or one would need a magnifyer glass to do so. I then also suppose that if a flower can't be selfed, you must brush off some pollen from the father plant and then brush it on the mother plant, and you must do so regularly, every other day or so in order to pollinate all the flowers. Is this right?
4- If a flower can be selfed, then every thing I assumed above doesn't hold true any more. So, how do you do it then?...
Thanks to anyone that can shed a little light in my very dark corner ! (: