Phlox mix---two old varieties

weedyseedyAugust 21, 2013

Well, I have become a bit bored crossing daylilies, especially when a series of crosses all fell off so I tried two old phlox varieties and finally figured out where the stigma was and now have several seed pods. Since only the branches I worked with have seed pods I'm assuming I got crosses---those florets are a bit tricky. Now all I need to do is figure out when they are ripe, how to harvest them , and how to germinate them-----and live long enough to see the seedlings bloom. The things we do to make retirement less boring!------------------Weedy

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Weedy,

I think we discussed this same thing over on Dave's Garden. It is good to have a hobby that you are fully dedicated to, especially when you are retired and a senior citizen. Just out of curiosity, what were those "two old phlox varieties" ?


    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 5:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Laura, purple (?) with a white eye and an old white I bought from White Flower Farms decades ago because it is supposed to be late. It is too, as Laura is about done and the white is still blooming. Laura was a pain to get established, I found her in a little box in a super market and thought $2.99 was a bargain. After I bought about six before I got one to grow I must have spent $30 bucks or more---one after another died and I stubbornly bought another every time we went in for bread, milk and eggs!! I never can resist those blasted little colored boxes--- and next it will be tulip, daffodils, and crocus. Still, one time I bought species tulips and they lasted for years until the chipmunk under the porch ate them all.-------------Weedy

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 8:16AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi, Weedy,

So, they are not annual phlox varieties. My little phlox project was with the annual Phlox drummondii, Twinkle Star and "Phlox of Sheep". You were more persistent with getting Laura established than I would have been. Keep us posted on the progress with your phlox hybrids.

I have been making hybrids between a rare tubular petaled mutant zinnia and "regular" zinnias. The original tubular petaled zinnia had small red flowers, one inch to one-and-a-half inches across. I crossed it with various large zinnias to get the size larger, and to get some kind of color range in the tubular strain. The tubular petals are recessive, so you have to wait for recombinations in the F2 generations to see the results. This is a picture of the original tubular petaled bloom.

This is a picture of one of the many tubular petaled recombinants that I have this year. It is more than twice as large as the original, and has much better petal placement.

The original tubular specimen was not perfectly symmetrical, with flowers that weren't perfectly round, and some of my tubular recombinants have also not been round, like this one that is almost triangular.

I kind of like the look of it. It proves that zinnias don't have to be round to be decorative. I have several variations on the tubular flower form. I continue to make crosses between tubular petaled specimens and "regular" zinnias to further improve the tubular petaled strain. So far I have several colors in the tubular strain, including yellow, pink, rose, magenta, lavender, orange, purple, several pastel shades and shades of red, and a near white. I am making crosses now to get a pure white. I will be going for bicolors and tricolors and bigger and more flower forms next year.


    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 10:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I like the tube petaled ones, I do like them symmetrical though. How would you stabilize large numbers of seeds?? I am always annoyed when I try zinnias and a seed packet with a perfectly symmetrical double on the seed packet produces mostly singles. Waiting for results can be tedious--daylilies here take perhaps three or even four years to bloom if I plant seed outside in November. and I don't know how long phlox will take. I am getting seed pods on the branches I pollinated now all I have to do is harvest it!!

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 1:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
samhain10(5a - MI)

Weedy and zenman - I have done some hybridizing in the past, but in a rather lacksadazical fashion (if that's how you spell it) - not keeping proper records, etc. I did some asian lilies and came up with a carmen red which was pretty, but admittedly not my favorite color. Don't even remember now what I crossed - it's been something like 20 years ago. I like the idea of doing annuals - much quicker! May I ask, as a refresher, how did you go about it? I had covered unopened blossoms from both plants with little bags made from pantyhose, and then on the morning they opened, performed my crosses using a small brush, then covered them both with the bags until the blossoms fell off. Is there a better way?
Zenman - BTW, love the tubular zinnia!

This post was edited by samhain10 on Wed, Feb 12, 14 at 8:55

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 8:52AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Sam,

"I like the idea of doing annuals - much quicker!"

Yes. Breeding zinnias goes quite quickly. They bloom in about six weeks from seed and, by using the green seed technique, you can get several generations of them in a year, if you wish. I also grow zinnias indoors, and my second generation of indoor zinnias is budding out now. I am making more progress this Winter than I used to do in two years outdoors, before I started "upping my game".

"I had covered unopened blossoms from both plants with little bags made from pantyhose, and then on the morning they opened, performed my crosses using a small brush, then covered them both with the bags until the blossoms fell off. Is there a better way? "

In the case of zinnia hybridization, I don't usually bag my zinnia blooms for hybridization. When I do, I use "hairnet" bags that I make from open mesh fabric, obtainable from most any fabric store.

Once I get a zinnia flower pollinated and developing hybrid seeds, then I frequently use the hairnet bags to protect any high-value zinnia seeds from seed-eating birds. Some species of birds, particularly some finches, seem to have an appetite for zinnia seeds, in addition to certain weed seeds.

Most of my zinnia breeding is made without the use protective bags, though. Last year I had a patch of non-breeder quality zinnias that I left as a decoy for the birds and for the enjoyment of many butterflies and hummingbirds. The birds focused on the decoy patch, so I was able to mature a lot of high-value hybrid seeds without bagging them.


    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 1:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
samhain10(5a - MI)

ZM - why isn't there a problem with insects interferring with your proposed cross? Couldn't they bring in other pollen to "muddy" the mix?

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 4:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


Insects, mainly bees of one kind or another, do visit zinnias to gather nectar and/or pollen. Their interest is strictly in the pollen florets, which are the little fuzzy yellow "starfish" like parts of a zinnia bloom. Those florets contain both the nectar and the pollen.

For my female blooms, I pick ones that I like that either don't have any pollen florets, or if they do, I pick them off to use as pollen on another zinnia.

Either way, the zinnia blooms I am applying pollen to don't have any pollen florets, so there isn't any thing to interest the bees on the particular blooms I am working on. And I am specifically targeting the stigmas on a bloom, and the bees have no interest in the stigmas.

A bee may light momentarily on a bloom to look for pollen florets, but it takes the bee only a second or two to discover there are no pollen florets on that bloom, so it flies off almost immediately. During that brief encounter, the probability of any pollen falling off of the bee directly onto a stigma is not very high. And I apply quite a bit of pollen to the stigmas, so any accidental bee pollen is likely too late to fertilize the stigma, because my pollen got there first.

A single zinnia bloom can produce 50 to 100 or more seeds and if one or two of them should be accidentally pollinated by a bee, I don't worry about that. In fact, the bee's cross-pollination might turn out to be interesting.

I have on occasions been pollinating a choice zinnia bloom when a big old bumble bee would land on the bloom and start looking for pollen florets. He would leave in a few seconds, but I just impatiently flipped him off of the bloom. The first time I did that I worried that the bumble bee might return to attack me, but that has never happened. If you flip them real hard it apparently stuns them and they will lie on the ground for a minute or two before flying away. So far I haven't tried that with honeybees, but I suspect I might get away with it.

One thing I forgot to mention before: the flower parts on zinnias are relatively big and accessible. I pick the pollen florets with tweezers or forceps and apply them to the stigmas at the base of the petals. The florets are relatively easy to pick and handle and the stigmas are relatively big and accessible. So I can pollinate or cross-pollinate a lot of zinnia stigmas in just a few minutes. And the zinnia seeds are relatively big and easy to handle and to plant.

And there is a tremendous variety of zinnias available, so the number of possible crosses you could make is astronomical. And, just for grins, I make crosses between my crosses. I get some remarkable stuff that way.


    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 11:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
samhain10(5a - MI)

Z-man, thanks for the info. I'm partial to the cactus zinnias, and this will be a fun project to see what I can come up with. If I get anything interesting, I'll look up this forum entry again and post some pics. BTW, heat wave here today - it's almost 20 degrees! Makes a difference from the below zero and the single digit temps we've been having for what feels like FOREVER. Looking forward to next month when I start some of my crops and flowers under lights: peppers, eggplants, petunias, etc... Hovering over my mini-garden from March through April helps maintain my sanity until I can actually get out there to work.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 8:53AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Sam,

" I'm partial to the cactus zinnias..."

Actually, so am I. I am not a big fan of the "classic" zinnia forms like dahlia flowered and similar kinds, in which the petals overlap closely like shingles. I like more informal open flower forms, and the Burpeeana Giants are a good starting point for me. I personally refer to some of the cactus zinnias that have narrower somewhat curved petals as chrysanthemum flowered, and if the petals are narrow and straight, I refer to that as "spider flowered".

I like it that you can "see through" the spider blooms, because of loose placement of narrow petals. I found that you get some spider flowered specimens as natural variants right out of the packages of Burpee's cactus flowered strains.

Some specimens from packets of Whirligig zinnias also have an "open" flower form that resembles the "spider flowered" flower form.

I made many crosses between spider flowered specimens from packets of cactus flowered zinnias and selected specimens from Whirligig zinnias. Some of the results had very subdued two-color effects, but good flower forms.

The Whirligigs are actually derived from an interspecific cross between Zinnia violacea (elegans) and Zinnia haageana, so they have a lot more natural variation than other zinnia varieties. They have helped me obtain several new flower forms, including one that I refer to as "aster flowered".

The aster flowered zinnias are large with mostly straight petals that are long and narrow with fairly loose placement on the flower cone. Some retain some bicolor coloration, while others are mostly solid colored. They have an extremely large variant (7 inches and larger) that I refer to as "dinosaur flowered" for want of a better name. Whirligig parentage has also been instrumental in producing several other flower forms that I refer to as "daisy flowered", "dandelion flowered", "toothy flowered" (that one needs a better name) and an extreme fantasy variation that I refer to as "Medusa flowered".

You could post your pictures here, but we are kind of "hijacking" Weedy's message thread here, so you could join the message thread over in the Annuals forum called It can be fun to breed your own zinnias. It is now up to Part 23, and the previous 22 parts are accessible by links in those messages. They go back several years. The advantage for you to post your questions, comments, and pictures over there is that you will have the opportunity to get responses from people other than myself. It always helps to get a second (or third) opinion. I hope to see you over there. We could discuss your cactus zinnia breeding plans.


    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 1:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
samhain10(5a - MI)

ZM - sounds good. I am especially taken with the aster and medusa flowers you've come up with. Will check out the other site. Thanks, as well, to Weedy for giving me this introduction!
- Alex (samhain 10)

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 5:01PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
hybridizing euphorbias
Hello All, Does anyone have experience hybridizing...
Daffodils from seed
Hi everybody! It's time to start thinking about pollinating...
Weird green echinacea
This summer one of my echinaceas bloomed green---all...
Cindi McMurray
Cross Pollinating Sunflowers?
If I place two sunflowers that are different species...
Tomatillo hybrids?
I grow tomatillos, usually from the abundant volunteers...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™