Friday, November 21, 2008

Grow Your Own Flower Hybrids

Grow Your Own Flower Hybrids

Producing your own hybrids can be profitable. Your first step will be to take pollen from one flower and place it on the stigma of another. The best time is when the blossom has been expanded at least 3 days. The pollinated flower will drop off, and you will notice the formation of a half-sphere—this is the seed capsule, within the calyx. Seeds ripen in 6 to 8 weeks when the capsule splits. Clip the capsule to keep the seeds from falling onto the soil. Remove and store in a cool dry place. Vitality of seeds diminishes with age.

There are endless possibilities in gloxinia hybridization. Most of the species will cross successfully with hybrid forms. And since the species have a richness and flexibility of foliage that is lacking in modern forms, they should be good material for you to use in your hybridizing program.

Should some of your hybrids impress you and your customers as really choice, you may want to work on the strain. Do it by self-pollinating the plants or by pollinating the hybrids with one of the parents, depending on which trait you wish to encourage and enlarge upon.

One of my most beautiful slipper strains resulted from a cross between a wide-faced white-and-purple gloxinia and a pink form of Sinningia species. From this cross came a range of huge, ruffled, pink-flushed, white slipper gloxinias. As I lacked room to grow them on, I sold some of the tubers to a florist who was eager to propagate them.

Another beautiful batch of gloxinias came from a cross I made between a pink slipper and S. macrophylla. Flowers were in shades of blue, lavender, and deep purple; foliage was intermediate between the two parents—light olive-green, soft rose underneath. A commercial grower tested these seeds for me, as I lacked space for a fair trial. He declared that he had never had so beautiful a group of slipper types as had come from these seeds. To preserve the seed strain, I grew a few and I supply one commercial house with about fifty tubers of these a year. I receive 40 cents apiece for these. I also include some of the seeds in my gesneriad mixture.

Crosses to Try

Here are some other interesting crosses to try: Use the handsome, white-veined, green-leaved S. regina, with nodding purple flowers, as the seed parent; for the pollen parent, any of the wide-faced newer hybrids. Try a cross between tiny S. pusilla and white-flowered S. eumorpha.

Use the pink slipper as one parent, a large white-margined pink hybrid as the other. Or work for all-pink hybrids by using the pink slipper and a deep rose self from the large-faced hybrids. If you favor dotted types, try a pink slipper and a pink-dotted tigrina.

Commercial seed houses pay up to $400.00 an ounce for gloxinia seed. To command so good a price, your seed must be of top quality; in a wide range of colors; specialty seeds from unique crosses, or species seed. To interest firms in your merchandise, take 35 mm. slides of your gloxinias while they are flowering, include a slide with each inquiry, and do not expect it to be returned. These firms are too busy to attend to the remailing.

If you grow but a few thousand seeds you may want to sell them as I do: hybrid slipper seeds to individuals for $5.00 per hundred; to wholesale firms for $12.50 per thousand.

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