….in search of tetraploid Zinnia flower diversity

I am growing Zinnia plants from seed saved from 3 separate State Fair flower heads in 2006.  I have been so impressed with the spectrum of colors I am seeing that it has motivated me to learn more about tetraploid Zinnia violacea (elegans).  It seems that there are very few tetraploid strains commercially available at this time.  One of the first tetraploid Z. violacea was developed by Mr Gordon Morrison of the Ferry Morse Seed Company and reported in the literature in 1938.  This led to the release of the State Fair Giants strain in the 1950’s by Ferry Morse.  It is still available today.  I also found mention in the literature of a tetraploid “cultivar” called Jungle.  The only other commercially available tetrapolid Z. violacea that I have been able to find is the Burpee Big Tetra Mix.  Both are described as “Dahlia flowered” strains and would seem to be somewhat limited in variability of other flower types .  Because of the huge potential of the tetraploid genetics, I am motivated to see if one can develop the other zinnia flower forms from this genepool. 

The predominant petal form found in these growouts is somewhat cupped upward and can be described as spoon like.  The traditional dahlia flower is made up of petals of this configuration.  I’ve been searching for deviations from this and have found a few that may have possibilities.

This first is a small white flower that has the petal tips tightly curled under into a roll.  I’m not sure how this exagerated form will look in a double flower, but I do know that it needs longer petals to give it some room.

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The other petal form I’ve found in these plants is what I would call the foundation for the cactus type flower.  These petals are rolled under on their lognitudinal axis with downward curled tips.  I have two flowers found in the descendants of one seed lot that have this character.   The first is a semi-double purple flower that has a more formal form.

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The second flower is less formal looking and has more tightly rolled and downward sloping petals.  It is a bicolor of bright coral/salmon with a violet base.  The violet does not show up well in the photo and looks like a light pink.  

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All of these selections should give something to work with.  They are all quite small, though there are a few 4 inch flowers as siblings.  Since I’ve started down this path, I’ve ordered seed for the Big Tetra mix as well.  Perhaps other variations will be discovered.


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