Plants for the most impatient hybridizers (i.e., students!)

clibanarius(z8GA)August 5, 2008

I posted this message on the house plants forum before noticing this hybridizing forum, which is much more appropriate for my query. IÂm looking for a good subject for a simple genetic variation/artificial selection lab, in which we can start the semester with two blooming varieties that the students cross-pollinate, then collect the ripened seeds, then grow these out long enough to see the traits in the offspring. All in one 15-week semester! IÂve used Brassica rapa "Fast Plants" for a similar lab in the past, because you can (barely) get through two generations in a semester, but they have become both prohibitively expensive and increasingly unreliable (bad combo!). I'll be happy to start with mature parents and finish with mature offspring.

Unfortunately, although patience is obviously an essential virtue for the serious hybridizer, I need to find those plants that are best for the most impatient hybridizers! Can anyone recommend a cheap, easy-to-get plant that could meet these requirements? One that springs to mind is portulaca: 40-50 days from sowing to blooming, but I donÂt know how long it takes for blooming plants to set seed and seeds to ripen. I also suspect that it would take longer in the fall than in the heat of the summer, and those dang dust-like seeds might be too much for my students to handle.

It occurs to me that foliage varieties would work just as well, and perhaps better, since you wouldn't have to wait until they were blooming to see the results. However, I've seen even less information on the all-important (for me!) time between pollination and seed maturation.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!



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They have been breeding late maturing spinach for years . It should be easy to reverse the process they go to seed in about a month. Radishes can mature in 19 days but it takes them longer to go to seed . There is a type of cress that matures in 5 days but I do not know how long it takes to go to seed. Bok choy is another posibility . also borrow Kent Whealey's book "seed inventory" LET ME KNOW HOW YOU MAKE OUT .

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 5:05PM
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maineman(z5a ME)


Some zinnias are rather quick to bloom and, if you cross pollinate them promptly, they will set seed that, while still green, could be viable after three or four weeks after pollination. One possible candidate would be zinnia Thumbelina. They can start blooming when they are only about three inches high and their plants are also quite compact, so they wouldn't take up a lot of space in the lab. It would be cutting it close, but I think you could have your hand pollinated Thumbelina hybrids blooming in 15 weeks from the first planting, provided that you used the "green seed" technique. They come in many different colors, so there would be a large number of combinations of crosses to make.

For some background information, see It can be fun to breed your own zinnias and the follow-on Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6. Those are all in the Annuals forum.


    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 2:34AM
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you may wish to use cornix or Japanese quail . They become sexually mature in 6 weeks . Not a plant though .Check out

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 3:34PM
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Mustard might be good. It's easy to grow, doesn't require vernalization like bok choi and radishes often do, produces seed easily, is reasonably easy to cross, and there are red and green varieties. You might try something like 'Red Frills' or 'Crimson Tide' which are frilly and red, and 'Florida Broadleaf', which is green and not frilly. And mustard seed's cheap.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 6:38PM
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It might be easier to use fruit flies than plants as almost no common plant I know is that speedy----though, come to think of it you might get two mature blooming foliage plants and at least get seedlings big enough to see variation-------------------------------Weedy

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 12:31AM
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Zinnias are more colorful and easier to see than fruit flies, and bloom in about 6 weeks from seed.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 7:56AM
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yukkuri_kame(Sunset 19 / USDA 9)

Necroposting on this ancient thread.

Funny first thing that popped into head was purslane before I saw you mentioned portulaca. Never tried to hybridize it, but I have 2 varieties growing in garden, so maybe will have a hybrid soon. Not sure how easy it would be to emasculate or hand pollinate.

Very quick to germinate, flower and set seed and produces tons of easy collect seed - but also easy for the seed to get everywhere!

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 4:02AM
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Probably the best bet would be pansies as they are both perennial and treated as annuals .You can keep successive generations from previous classes to illustrate the generations and get several generations per year . also there are many traits and a wide variation in the species .

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 11:31AM
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By the way pansies can cross with violas, violets, johnny jump ups . They come in: small, regular, large ,and giant Swiss ,blotched or penciled faces , regular and ruffled petals . You never let us know how you made out !

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 2:38PM
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