Annuals forum: Zinnia button box

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John_fender
Jun 28, 2016 8:59 AM CST
I planted some from seeds I bought from a local seed company and were advertized as having bicolor patterns. To be honest the pic on the seed packet look like persian carpet zinnias. Anyhow the pic attached is what is blooming after 2 months from sowing and looks nothing like the seed pack pic. Is this what you expect the "button box" zinnias to look like ? What's the difference between those and thumbelina zinnias ?
Thanks !
Thumb of 2016-06-28/John_fender/9f2e4c

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
Jun 28, 2016 10:38 AM CST
John_fender said:Is this what you expect the "button box" zinnias to look like ? What's the difference between those and thumbelina zinnias ?

Hi John, Welcome!
That is what I would expect Button Box to look like. The seed packet picture is questionable. Button Box and Thumbelina have similar blooms, but Button Box reaches a height of 10 inches, while Thumbelina's ultimate height is 6 inches (Thumbelina can put out a first bloom at only 3 inches high). See these links:

http://www.edenbrothers.com/store/button-box-zinnia-seeds.ht...

http://www.edenbrothers.com/store/zinnia_thumbelina_seeds.ht...

ZM
(not associated with any product or vendor mentioned or linked)




John_fender
Jun 28, 2016 12:24 PM CST
Hi ZenMan
I've been reading your posts with great interest and I owe it to you for those blooms. Your advice of MG fertilizing at reduced strength every 2-3 days (5ml/Gal) worked miracles after only 3 feedings or 1 week. See pics 1 week apart !
Anyhow if thumbelina is that short would the spread be similar at 6-8 inches ?
Just planted a few thumbelinas and a few magellans (coral). Kind of a test to see what works best in containers. Planting out in garden has been disastrous for me fighting slugs, earwigs and cold weather.
Thumb of 2016-06-28/John_fender/569aca


Thumb of 2016-06-28/John_fender/b8185a

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
Jun 28, 2016 2:21 PM CST
John_fender said:Anyhow if thumbelina is that short would the spread be similar at 6-8 inches ?

Yes, the spread would normally be in about that range. It has been years since I experimented with Thumbelinas, and I don't know how they might respond to repeated pinching. That might cause their spread to be greater. I have since discontinued working with small zinnias, because I don't like to kneel or stoop to work with them.
John_fender said:Just planted a few thumbelinas and a few magellans (coral). Kind of a test to see what works best in containers. Planting out in garden has been disastrous for me fighting slugs, earwigs and cold weather.

I predict that you will like the Magellans. You might want to consider the Profusions and Zaharas for their resistance to Powdery Mildew. They might work in containers.

I don't want to be restricted to containers. A few years ago I had an earwig population explosion that devastated my zinnias, and discovered that my heavy mulching was contributing to good conditions for earwigs. I have since discontinued conventional mulching, and now "mulch" with sand (which discourages pill bugs as well). There is a product called Sluggo that is very effective against slugs. It is a bait whose active ingredient is iron phosphate, so it is safe around pets. And what the slugs don't eat, the plants can use as plant food, because plants use both iron and phosphorous. The sand mulch also discourages slugs and snails, who don't like to move over sand. The sand grains tend to stick to them.

I breed zinnias as a hobby, so I need to use in-ground planting so that I can grow a large number of experimental zinnias. So I will fight any pests that might interfere with my use of my garden space. Obviously my indoor zinnia project during the Winter is restricted to containers.

ZM (not associated with any product mentioned)
I tip my hat to you.

John_fender
Jun 28, 2016 7:44 PM CST
Thanks for all the info. All great tips ! I might have to setup something indoors so I can try out those profusions you mentioned.
What about soil preparation before planting out ? Do you ad fertilizer and compost etc ? What do you find works best for you ?
It's getting a bit late for me to start outdoors but I can at least prepare for next year Crossing Fingers! .
Also I have attached the seed packet pic for fun. That's definitely not button box and more like persian carpet perhaps. I feel like I saw the same pic somewhere else on the web too
Thumb of 2016-06-29/John_fender/c5049d

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
Jun 28, 2016 11:14 PM CST
John_fender said:What about soil preparation before planting out ? Do you add fertilizer and compost etc ? What do you find works best for you ?
It's getting a bit late for me to start outdoors but I can at least prepare for next year.

Hi John,
I do as much, or as little, soil preparation as I have time for. Here in our growing season I hope to have my outdoor zinnias planted as soon as I can, but will continue succession planting up to no later than the second week in July. In the past I have planted as late as mid August, and those bloom and do well before Frost, but those late planted zinnias don't have time for a good seed set.

So I don't have time for any elaborate soil preparation this year. In recent weeks I have planted several beds with no soil preparation at all. I hoe down the weeds, rake them up for a compost pile. Just draw a furrow, drop the seeds in, cover them, and sprinkle daily until the seedlings emerge.

I am building a couple of compost piles, so next year I will probably have compost ready for some effective soil amendment. This year I just sprinkle my beds with a light application of 13-13-13 fertilizer before planting and that gets watered in when I am sprinkling the seeds to get them to germinate. I will make up for skipping soil preparation by foliar feeding the zinnias. I will sand mulch some of my selected breeders. I hope to do better next year.
John_fender said:Also I have attached the seed packet pic for fun. That's definitely not button box and more like persian carpet perhaps.

Yes, they put the wrong picture on the seed packet. I agree with you, those look like Persian Carpets.

ZM

John_fender
Jul 19, 2016 8:50 PM CST
Hi again
Just an update. What a difference a few weeks and warm weather make. This button box variety made an excellent container plant.
There’s also a picture of my magellab corals, one of the seeds didnt germinate hence the bare spot. Planted june 11th so about 5 weeks old and budding. Cant believe how big the leaves are and each plant is well branched. I bet they will flower in 2 weeka or less.
Both varieties were plant outside in the garden but the slugs and earwigs got them.
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John_fender
Jul 31, 2016 6:16 PM CST
Magellan coral finally blooming ! All plants had the first buds bloom almost on the same day! Now that's uniform.
Nice colour although the pic doesnt do it justice.
Also two pots of the buttton box zinnias are there too for comparison. I would definitely grow both again although you can tell Magellan is a superior plant.
Magellan seeds were from stokes seeds and the button box from Halifax seed.
Magellans were sown in a pot June 11th blooming July 28th
Thumb of 2016-08-01/John_fender/623bd5

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
Jul 31, 2016 10:45 PM CST
Hi John,

Congratulations on your success with Button Box and Magellan in containers. It is unfortunate that slugs and earwigs are making it unfeasible to grow zinnias in your garden. The product called Sluggo is a safe bait that can control slugs.

A few years ago when we lived in Maine, earwigs devastated my zinnias. I had mulched them with 2 or 3 inches of composted leaves and I discovered that the compost was protecting a huge population of earwigs. I didn't see them during the day, but I went out with a flashlight after dark and was shocked to see all of my zinnia blooms literally covered with earwigs.

I suspected that they were hiding in the mulch during the days, so the next day I moved some of the mulch back and confirmed that the mulch was home to a virtual population explosion of earwigs. I removed the mulch and put the mulch/earwig mix on the bottom of a new compost pile and mulched my zinnia bed with about an inch and a half of sand.

The sand was inhospitable to the earwigs and slugs, and even caused the death of a population of pill bugs. (A large population of pill bugs can do damage.) Apparently pill bugs and earwigs can't live in sand, and slugs avoid it because it sticks to their slimy parts.

If you want to take your garden back from the slugs and earwigs, get someone to deliver a load of sand to your place, and mulch your garden with and inch or two of sand. Over the years I have used several loads of washed river sand here on my garden in east Kansas. I also use the sand as a soil amendment to our silty clay soil, which converts a dark sticky mess into a good approximation of sandy loam, which zinnias and many other plants love. I grow and breed zinnias as a hobby. This is a picture of one of my recent home hybridized zinnias. It has an interesting picotee effect.
Thumb of 2016-08-01/ZenMan/f47efc
ZM
(not associated with any product or vendor mentioned)

John_fender
Aug 1, 2016 8:24 AM CST
That's a gorgeous hybrid ! Very interesting effect you got going.
Have you tried to breed zinnias for traits such as the largest bloom or pest resistance etc ?
I say this because When I started the magellans in a pot and garden a few weeks ago, I planted some whirligigs outside too. Too bad I didnt plant any whirligigs in a pot to see what they look like.. anyways one of those plants that sprouted remained intact from top to bottom, no slug attack and no earwigs touched it. Just wondering if it naturally repells them. Once it flowers I'll save its seeds and see if that trait remains. See the pic it's in the top right corner.
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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
Aug 1, 2016 10:35 AM CST
John_fender said:Have you tried to breed zinnias for traits such as the largest bloom or pest resistance etc ?

Hi John,

One of my ongoing projects is to breed for larger zinnia blooms. Here are a couple of my past specimens that had unusually large blooms, a little over 7 inches in diameter in some directions. They weren't perfectly round, so their diameter depended on where you placed the ruler. I referred to them as "Dyno Saurs"
Thumb of 2016-08-01/ZenMan/eaea97 Thumb of 2016-08-01/ZenMan/6b7176
John_fender said:...one of those plants that sprouted remained intact from top to bottom, no slug attack and no earwigs touched it. Just wondering if it naturally repells them. Once it flowers I'll save its seeds and see if that trait remains.

It never occurred to me to breed for pest resistance. By all means do save seeds from it. Your in-ground garden seems like a good place to test for pest resistance. I suppose it is possible for that one undamaged plant to have just been lucky. But if it continues to remain undamaged, the probability that it is resistant increases. Breeding for pest resistance is a worthy project.

ZM
I tip my hat to you.

John_fender
Aug 1, 2016 12:50 PM CST
Well at least there's no chance of cross pollination with that one!
The sand mulching sounds like a great idea and one that makes sense. I have a couple of spirea bushes that are hotels for the earwigs and there's no shortage of hiding places for them around house.
I have bought sluggo and diatemaceous I will be using now. It's hard verify effectiveness since my plants were already munched on unless I plant new ones
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
Aug 2, 2016 1:02 AM CST
Be careful with the diatomaceous earth, and don't breathe any of its dust.

John_fender
Aug 2, 2016 5:47 AM CST
Thanks for the warning, read about that so I will be mixing it with water and applying it wet.

John_fender
Aug 2, 2016 7:41 PM CST
Hi again Zenman
Question for you. Zinnia magellan is a hybrid cross of what exactly ?
Saving the F2 seeds would result in 3/4 dominant parent and 1/4 recessive parent ? Just curious what the parents look like..
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
Aug 3, 2016 12:03 PM CST
John_fender said: Zinnia magellan is a hybrid cross of what exactly ?

Hi John,

The female parent will be an apetalous femina. It can't produce male pollen because it doesn't have any pollen florets. The inbred male parent will resemble the F1 hybrid, and will produce pollen. The feminas and inbred male pollen producers are inter-planted close to each other, possibly in alternating rows like in hybrid corn production. In the case of corn, gravity and wind transfer the pollen. In the case of zinnias, bees transfer the pollen. Seed producers can't afford to hire humans to transfer the zinnia pollen. Amateur zinnia breeders don't have those limits, and they can cross any zinnia with any other zinnia in their garden.

John_fender said:Saving the F2 seeds would result in 3/4 dominant parent and 1/4 recessive parent ? Just curious what the parents look like..


The female femina consists of a lot of stigmas in a sea of chaffy scales. The male pollen producer probably looks similar to the F1 hybrid.

The Mendelian 3/4 dominant 1/4 recessive refers to a single gene pair. Mendel worked with ornamental pea plants that had easily observable traits that were controlled by a single gene pair. There may be some zinnia phenotype traits that are controlled by a single gene pair, but many zinnia traits are controlled by more than one gene pair. Hence zinnia genetics are not as simple as the classic experiments designed by Mendel. Mendel's experiments produced two or three different specimens. The F2's from an F1 zinnia hybrid may produce many different appearing specimens, because many different gene pairs are involved.

ZM

John_fender
Aug 4, 2016 1:46 PM CST
Thanks for the detailed response. I'll save some seeds and see what happens, maybe I'll start with some green seeds in a few weeks.
I've read in one of your posts about green seeds so I tried some from the button box zinnias in a wet paper towel in a ziploc bag, removing the green seed coat. Nearly all germinated in a couple of days. Fascinating stuff.
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
Aug 4, 2016 5:34 PM CST
John_fender said:I've read in one of your posts about green seeds so I tried some from the button box zinnias in a wet paper towel in a ziploc bag, removing the green seed coat. Nearly all germinated in a couple of days. Fascinating stuff.

Hi John,

Congratulations on your successful zinnia embryo experiment. When you remove the green seed coat, what is left is the whitish zinnia embryo. Since it is outside the seed and alive, you could think of it as already germinated. I have on occasions raised whole trays of zinnias from embryos. That is the fastest way to get a new generation of zinnias started.

Since my indoor zinnia project can also grow two generations of zinnias per Winter season, I can get four generations of zinnias per year, which really empowers my zinnia breeding hobby.

ZM
I tip my hat to you.

John_fender
Aug 7, 2016 5:04 PM CST
Hi again ZenMan
So would it be possible from the magellan F2 generation to determine which ones look closest to the parents, cross them to obtain something similar to magellan ? Would that cross yield uniform F3 plants ?
The magellans are so vigorous that new growth is starting to cover 1 week old blooms. Too soon I'd say.
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[Last edited by John_fender - Aug 7, 2016 5:08 PM (+)]
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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
Aug 7, 2016 6:15 PM CST
John_fender said:So would it be possible from the magellan F2 generation to determine which ones look closest to the parents, cross them to obtain something similar to magellan ? Would that cross yield uniform F3 plants ?
Hi John,

That cross would yield partially uniform plants. You would need to reselect the best ones in the F3 generation as the basis for an F4 generation. You would get closer to a pure breeding Magellan approximation with each re-selection. After 5 or 6 generations you would probably have a reasonably pure strain. That process is sometimes called "de-hybridization".
John_fender said:The magellans are so vigorous that new growth is starting to cover 1 week old blooms. Too soon I'd say.


As a bit of serendipity, sometimes you will actually see an improvement over the original F1 among the F2 (and higher) recombinants. That process may occur more than once, so that your stabilized non-hybrid can actually be significantly better (in your eyes) than the original F1 hybrid. You have already seen an opportunity to improve Magellan by having slightly longer stems on its flowers. You could select for longer stems when picking which specimens to use in each successive generation. Also, as you inspect your zinnias in greater detail as part of your process for selecting which ones to use for seed, you may develop a preference for other details in your zinnias. For example, I prefer zinnia leaves to be pointed instead of blunt. The leaves on these zinnias are examples of what I mean by pointed leaves.

Thumb of 2016-08-07/ZenMan/8e2d10 Thumb of 2016-08-07/ZenMan/a49dbf

In addition to pointed leaves, I like long narrow leaves, like the zinnia on the right.

But all that is purely a matter of personal taste, and you might have a totally different preference in leaf shape. I am just saying that there are a lot of details about a zinnia plant that you might have preferences for. While you are evaluating candidates to save seeds from, you just as well apply your own personal preferences for features and details that you like. The Magellans are not necessarily the exact zinnias that you would like. And you have the opportunity to tweak them toward your own preferences.

ZM
I tip my hat to you.

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