Annuals forum: My encounter with a tubular-petaled mutant zinnia

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Name: ZenMan
rural Kansas (Zone 5b)
Kansas 5b
Annuals Keeper of Poultry Enjoys or suffers cold winters Bee Lover Dragonflies Garden Photography
Hybridizer Region: United States of America Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Garden Ideas: Level 2
ZenMan
Sep 9, 2014 11:39 PM CST
Hello all,

I have been growing zinnias for several years, saving seeds from my favorites, and even hybridizing them myself. Actually, hybridizing zinnias is surprisingly easy. That evolved into my current hobby of breeding zinnias.

In 2011, I was inspecting my patch of Zig Zag zinnias when I saw something strange (Zig Zags are now discontinued, but they were somewhat similar to Whirligigs). It was a zinnia with rather small red blooms, but the petals were composed of narrow tubes, reminiscent of soda straws. I took pictures of it.

Thumb of 2014-09-10/ZenMan/3b0ca5

Thumb of 2014-09-10/ZenMan/595754

The blooms were only a little over an inch in diameter, but I was excited about the unique flower form. So I put a small tomato cage around the plant to protect it, and started crossing it with other larger zinnias that I had in my main zinnia garden. I designated it by the codename E2 in my garden journal of breeder zinnias.

Every morning I would gather pollen florets from E2 and take them to other zinnias to apply the pollen. I saved seeds from those zinnias and the next year, 2012, I grew a lot of the seeds from those crosses, hoping to see some interesting tubular-petaled hybrids. I was surprised and disappointed when no tubular-petaled zinnias appeared in those F1 hybrids.

When I was shucking zinnia seedheads that Winter, it suddenly occurred to me that the tubular petaled trait must simply be recessive, and that I had a lot of tubular petaled genes in the F2 seeds I was packaging for planting the following year.

In 2013, the first few blooms from that F2 generation were not tubular petaled and I was worried. But on about the third day of new blooms there were two or three tubular petaled blooms. And that was just the beginning. For the next month new versions of the tubular petaled trait continued to appear.

The tubular petaled genes had combined with the genes of my other zinnias in the non-tubular F1 hybrids and recombined in the F2 generation to produce some tubular blooms several different ways, including bigger blooms, different colors, and some variations in the tubular petals themselves. There were enough different versions of the tubular petals that it seemed very likely that more than one gene was determining the form of the recombinant tubular blooms.

I will show some pictures of the tubular petaled recombinant zinnias in some of the next few messages. More later.

ZM
Name: ZenMan
rural Kansas (Zone 5b)
Kansas 5b
Annuals Keeper of Poultry Enjoys or suffers cold winters Bee Lover Dragonflies Garden Photography
Hybridizer Region: United States of America Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Garden Ideas: Level 2
ZenMan
Sep 9, 2014 11:58 PM CST
I was pleased that the tubular recombinants were appearing in several different colors.

Thumb of 2014-09-10/ZenMan/78e658

Thumb of 2014-09-10/ZenMan/2bc33f

Thumb of 2014-09-10/ZenMan/13f73c

We have some weather coming in and my HughesNet satellite uplink/downlink communication is becoming flakey. I will add some more pictures tomorrow. More later.

ZM
Name: Anne
Summerville, SC (Zone 8a)
Be a voice - not an echo!
Plant and/or Seed Trader Enjoys or suffers cold winters Hybridizer Birds Seed Starter Cat Lover
Pollen collector Morning Glories Greenhouse Bookworm Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
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Xeramtheum
Sep 10, 2014 6:27 AM CST
Welcome to ATP ZenMan!

Those are some awesome looking Zinnias! When I first saw your pictures before I read your post I thought the flowers were a mutation of the Cactus Zinnia.

Well done!
"We were all humans until race disconnected us, religion separated us, politics divided us and wealth classified us."

Unknown

Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
Service dogs: Angels with paws.
Dragonflies Dog Lover I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Photography Bee Lover Plays in the sandbox
Butterflies Region: Texas I sent a postcard to Randy! Charter ATP Member Annuals Garden Sages
Image
lovemyhouse
Sep 10, 2014 9:35 AM CST
I love those flowers! I tip my hat to you.
If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.'
Name: ZenMan
rural Kansas (Zone 5b)
Kansas 5b
Annuals Keeper of Poultry Enjoys or suffers cold winters Bee Lover Dragonflies Garden Photography
Hybridizer Region: United States of America Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Garden Ideas: Level 2
ZenMan
Sep 10, 2014 10:28 PM CST
Hi Xeramtheum,

It's possible the tubular "mutant" is related to the Cactus zinnias in some way. I speak of my original tubular as a mutant, and that was my first opinion, that the mutation had occurred in my garden. I have since come to believe that that red tubular zinnia is actually an existing strain of zinnias, that may have been around for many years or possibly even many decades. I think it may have been "flying under the radar" in zinnia seed fields.

I know of one instance on another forum in which a person posted a picture of a favorite red zinnia and, in the background and only a little out of focus, was an easily recognizable tubular red zinnia, perhaps a bigger specimen than mine. I mentioned that to the poster of the picture and the poster expressed surprise, and the intent to look to see if the zinnia was still there. I never heard the outcome of that. I think a lot of tubular zinnias get ignored or pulled up as "off type". That's not too surprising, because they are rather small and un-showy. My interest in them was based on their potential to become something good when bred with other zinnias. And they have done that, by providing the genes to help produce a new flower form in the zinnias in my garden.

Thumb of 2014-09-11/ZenMan/09d029

Thumb of 2014-09-11/ZenMan/4ba766

Thumb of 2014-09-11/ZenMan/f5fbe2

This little grasshopper is "inspecting" a tubular petaled zinnia.

Thumb of 2014-09-11/ZenMan/92b6a4

Some of the tubular petaled zinnias are a bit on the weird side.

Thumb of 2014-09-11/ZenMan/b347ef

While others have "hands" and seem to be waving at us.

Thumb of 2014-09-11/ZenMan/01ceb9

I have enjoyed growing a variety of tubular petaled zinnias this year, and I will probably grow even more of them next year. As a strain, they need more colors and bigger flowers, and I can't wait to make that happen.

ZM
Name: ZenMan
rural Kansas (Zone 5b)
Kansas 5b
Annuals Keeper of Poultry Enjoys or suffers cold winters Bee Lover Dragonflies Garden Photography
Hybridizer Region: United States of America Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Garden Ideas: Level 2
ZenMan
Sep 10, 2014 10:48 PM CST
Hi lovemyhouse,

I'm glad you like my tubular petaled zinnias. I grow a lot of different kinds of zinnias, but working with the tubular petaled zinnias began a new phase in my zinnia breeding. The tubular petals are a kind of enigma, because their stigmas (the part of a zinnia that accepts pollen to fertilize its egg cell) are enclosed in an inaccessible tube, and it is a wonder how they can produce many seeds that way.

Thumb of 2014-09-11/ZenMan/7df9ac

I was doing some pollination on this next tubular petaled zinnia just yesterday.

Thumb of 2014-09-11/ZenMan/2e7c36

It has a kind of "frosted" look due to the lighter color on the petal ends. When I need to make the tubular petaled stigmas accessible, I use an X-Acto knife with a small blade. It's a bit tedious, but it leads to some interesting results in the zinnia patch.

ZM
Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
Service dogs: Angels with paws.
Dragonflies Dog Lover I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Photography Bee Lover Plays in the sandbox
Butterflies Region: Texas I sent a postcard to Randy! Charter ATP Member Annuals Garden Sages
Image
lovemyhouse
Sep 11, 2014 5:07 AM CST
Sure hope you can get to a point they are commercially viable, would get them in a heartbeat. Big Grin
If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.'
Name: ZenMan
rural Kansas (Zone 5b)
Kansas 5b
Annuals Keeper of Poultry Enjoys or suffers cold winters Bee Lover Dragonflies Garden Photography
Hybridizer Region: United States of America Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Garden Ideas: Level 2
ZenMan
Sep 11, 2014 12:25 PM CST
Hi lovemyhouse,

Thanks for the vote of confidence. It will probably be several years before any of my strains are commercially viable, but in the meantime I am really enjoying working on them. Growing, culling, selecting breeders, selfing and cross-pollinating them, saving seeds, and even growing some of them indoors during the Winter. For me, zinnias are a kind of year round hobby. And the challenging thing is that there is always more to learn about the hobby. And working with new flower forms, like the tubular petaled zinnias, adds interest to the hobby.

Thumb of 2014-09-11/ZenMan/403324

Sometimes I choose to cull a tubular petaled zinnia, because I grow a lot of them, and want to improve the breed by saving seed from only the best examples. I think this one was a cull.

Thumb of 2014-09-11/ZenMan/635aa5

These next two were kind of borderline, but I decided to keep them.

Thumb of 2014-09-11/ZenMan/3d80e3

Thumb of 2014-09-11/ZenMan/72d879

That last one reminded me of one of those sea anemone creatures that catch little fish with their tentacles. Some of the tubular petaled zinnias have flowers that aren't very round, and are distinctly asymmetrical.

Thumb of 2014-09-11/ZenMan/5593f7

Thumb of 2014-09-11/ZenMan/ae8962

That last one is almost triangle shaped. Since the petals of a zinnia are botanically considered to be "flowers" by virtue of being able to produce a seed, I am working toward making the petals look more like flowers. And a bunch of "petal flowers" needn't be arranged in a perfect circle. So I don't mind it when the tubular petaled zinnias have blooms that aren't symmetrical. Although most of them are reasonably symmetrical.

ZM
Name: Anne
Summerville, SC (Zone 8a)
Be a voice - not an echo!
Plant and/or Seed Trader Enjoys or suffers cold winters Hybridizer Birds Seed Starter Cat Lover
Pollen collector Morning Glories Greenhouse Bookworm Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
Image
Xeramtheum
Sep 11, 2014 1:53 PM CST
You might try crossing them with Cactus Zinnias. Have you grown out the F2 and F3's? Are they stable?
"We were all humans until race disconnected us, religion separated us, politics divided us and wealth classified us."

Unknown

Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
Service dogs: Angels with paws.
Dragonflies Dog Lover I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Photography Bee Lover Plays in the sandbox
Butterflies Region: Texas I sent a postcard to Randy! Charter ATP Member Annuals Garden Sages
Image
lovemyhouse
Sep 11, 2014 2:12 PM CST
I rather like the unexpected nature of the asymmetrical ones.
If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.'
Name: ZenMan
rural Kansas (Zone 5b)
Kansas 5b
Annuals Keeper of Poultry Enjoys or suffers cold winters Bee Lover Dragonflies Garden Photography
Hybridizer Region: United States of America Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Garden Ideas: Level 2
ZenMan
Sep 11, 2014 3:52 PM CST
Hi Xeramtheum,

I have crossed and continue to cross tubulars with both cactus flowered zinnias and some of my larger flowered hybrids, such as my aster flowered zinnias. At this time I have grown F2, F1xF1, F2xF1, F2xF2, and F3 seeds and, although I get significant yields of different versions of the tubular petaled zinnias, they are far from what I would call a stable strain. That may take years, particularly if I keep crossing stuff, but I can create a patch of tubular zinnias by simply planting recombinant seeds and culling out the non-tubular specimens.

My zinnia goals tend to be a "moving target", not so much because I change my mind about what I like, but because the zinnias themselves continually present me with new opportunities.

For example, last year I found a new mutant, which I call the Star-Tipped Mutant, and I crossed it with representative specimens of many of my ongoing projects, including the tubular petaled strain, and that cross opened up some significant improvements in the tubular strain.

I will continue to develop the "regular" tubular petaled zinnias, like I have shown samples of here. However, the Star-Tipped Mutant cross yielded tubulars with nice "toothy" petal ends. So I will be developing that strain as well. But right now, nothing much is as "stable" as you would hope that a commercial zinnia strain would be. (Although, many commercial strains have a stability problem as well.)

I will expound upon my encounter with the Star-Tipped Mutant zinnia in a new message thread in a day or two. I am almost relieved that I didn't find a new mutant zinnia so far this year. Things are already way too exciting in my zinnia garden.

ZM
Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
Service dogs: Angels with paws.
Dragonflies Dog Lover I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Photography Bee Lover Plays in the sandbox
Butterflies Region: Texas I sent a postcard to Randy! Charter ATP Member Annuals Garden Sages
Image
lovemyhouse
Sep 11, 2014 3:56 PM CST
Hilarious! Well, it is exciting from this side, that's for sure. Big Grin
If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.'
Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
Service dogs: Angels with paws.
Dragonflies Dog Lover I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Photography Bee Lover Plays in the sandbox
Butterflies Region: Texas I sent a postcard to Randy! Charter ATP Member Annuals Garden Sages
Image
lovemyhouse
Sep 11, 2014 3:57 PM CST
Would you post a link to the new thread here when you start it? That way it won't be missed. I'd like to follow your progress.
If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.'
Name: Anne
Summerville, SC (Zone 8a)
Be a voice - not an echo!
Plant and/or Seed Trader Enjoys or suffers cold winters Hybridizer Birds Seed Starter Cat Lover
Pollen collector Morning Glories Greenhouse Bookworm Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
Image
Xeramtheum
Sep 11, 2014 4:28 PM CST
Lol, I cross Morning Glory's and have just started this year crossing Tropical Hibiscus. In my experience with MG's, F1 is usually a good mixture of both parents, F2 starts to get creative with the odd gene, F3 is anything goes and F4 they start to settle down.

I know exactly what you man about new mutants and breathing a sign of relief.
"We were all humans until race disconnected us, religion separated us, politics divided us and wealth classified us."

Unknown

Name: ZenMan
rural Kansas (Zone 5b)
Kansas 5b
Annuals Keeper of Poultry Enjoys or suffers cold winters Bee Lover Dragonflies Garden Photography
Hybridizer Region: United States of America Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Garden Ideas: Level 2
ZenMan
Sep 11, 2014 11:22 PM CST
Hi Xeramtheum,

I considered breeding Morning Glories, but the warm colors seemed to be mostly missing. Theoretically there is a yellow species, but it doesn't seem to have been exploited to widen the morning glory color spectrum to something comparable to zinnias.

I stumbled across Hidden Valley Hibiscus when searching for the Bug Blaster http://www.hiddenvalleynaturearts.com/acatalog/bugblaster.ht...
hose-end water sprayer. I haven't bought one yet, but I still may. Hidden Valley Hibiscus has some amazing hybrids. If I weren't so busy with my zinnias, I might consider Tropical Hibiscus as a hobby.

I agree with your characterizations of F1, F2, F3, and F4. Now all I expect of the F1 plants is confirmation that I got the cross. I look forward to the recombinations of genes that occur in the F2 generations and beyond, which is where I make my main grow-outs.

ZM (not associated with any product or vendor mentioned or linked)
Name: ZenMan
rural Kansas (Zone 5b)
Kansas 5b
Annuals Keeper of Poultry Enjoys or suffers cold winters Bee Lover Dragonflies Garden Photography
Hybridizer Region: United States of America Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Garden Ideas: Level 2
ZenMan
Dec 4, 2014 9:51 PM CST
I am currently growing some zinnias indoors in order to get in a couple of extra generations of zinnia breeding before next Spring. This is one of my current tubular zinnias that I like, for several reasons. One reason is that it has extra narrow tubes, and a bright yellow inside the tubes and a strangely colored outside of the tubes.

Thumb of 2014-12-05/ZenMan/6e8d8d

Another reason I like it is that it reminds me of a fireworks skyburst. I am crossing it with several other indoor breeder zinnias.

ZM
Name: Jo Ann Gentle
Pittsford NY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cat Lover Heucheras Hellebores Container Gardener
Birds Region: New York Irises Garden Ideas: Master Level Avid Green Pages Reviewer Lilies
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ge1836
Dec 5, 2014 4:32 AM CST
Are the petals long ? they look to be about an inch.
I dont know jack about hybridizing. But it must be thrilling to see new experiments bloom.
Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
Service dogs: Angels with paws.
Dragonflies Dog Lover I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Photography Bee Lover Plays in the sandbox
Butterflies Region: Texas I sent a postcard to Randy! Charter ATP Member Annuals Garden Sages
Image
lovemyhouse
Dec 5, 2014 6:17 AM CST
Unique, can see the skyburst resemblance. Thumbs up
If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.'
Name: ZenMan
rural Kansas (Zone 5b)
Kansas 5b
Annuals Keeper of Poultry Enjoys or suffers cold winters Bee Lover Dragonflies Garden Photography
Hybridizer Region: United States of America Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Garden Ideas: Level 2
ZenMan
Dec 6, 2014 7:41 PM CST
ge1836 said:Are the petals long ? they look to be about an inch.
I dont know jack about hybridizing. But it must be thrilling to see new experiments bloom.


The bloom is bigger than it looks in that photo. The tubular petals are nearly two inches long and the bloom is almost 4 inches in diameter. I have been crossing these tubular petaled zinnias with larger zinnias in an attempt to make them larger, and that has been working fairly well. The original tubular petaled mutant did have tubes about an inch long with blooms 1.5 to 1.75 inch in diameter. Its petals were bright red inside and dull red outside. My goal is to get these tubular petaled things 6 inches across or larger. This one was significantly larger than the one in that last picture.

Thumb of 2014-12-07/ZenMan/5e5c9c

However, it did not have the bright yellow tube interiors, so it didn't have as much of a fireworks starburst effect. There are many kinds of zinnias, and I will be experimenting with crossing these tubular petaled zinnias with many of them. It's fun to cross various kinds of zinnias with each other. And even more fun to cross the crosses with each other. It's amazing the stuff you can get.

ZM
[Last edited by ZenMan - Dec 6, 2014 8:07 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #745265 (19)
Name: Jo Ann Gentle
Pittsford NY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cat Lover Heucheras Hellebores Container Gardener
Birds Region: New York Irises Garden Ideas: Master Level Avid Green Pages Reviewer Lilies
Image
ge1836
Dec 7, 2014 6:52 AM CST
Great luck to you.

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