The Q&A Archives: Making My First Hybrid

Question: I would like to make a basic hybrid of a rose, zinnia, or petunia, and don't want to invest in a book. Can you give me a basic explanation of how you hybridize something?

Answer: You have chosen some difficult plants to start with due to their complex flower type and/or tiny, difficult to start seed. Daylilies or hibiscus may be a better choice as their large flower and seed size makes them easier to work with. Nevertheless, to hybridize a flower you want to eliminate natural crossing by insects and control the pollination yourself. Remove the anthers (male pollen-producing flower parts) from a flower and cover it with a small paper bag or spunbound polyester fabric to prevent pollination by insects. Then take anthers from the flower you wish to cross with and hand transfer the pollen to the antherless flower using an artist's paintbrush. Recover the pollinated flower to prevent insect pollination. Then just wait for the flower to mature and produce seeds.

The two flower varieties must be capable of crossing and producing viable seed. Sometimes this is difficult to determine without just trying it and seeing if it works.

Thanks for the question and good luck!

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