In 2006 I purchased a packet of Ferry Morse Giant State Fair Zinnias to plant in the yard to attract butterflies. They accomplished that task admirably and caught my interest by their diversity of colors. I was particularly attracted to a salmon colored flower with a blue-violet color on the petals near the center. I saved seed that fall from several of the flowers to grow again in following years.
It was 2009 before I grew them again and was very pleased with the various colors revealed. Even though the colors were superb, the flower form was rather boring actually. About this same time I became interested in the potential and mechanics of hybridizing zinnias. The Giant State Fair zinnias are tetraploid so the challenges and opportunities are magnified. Tetraploid genetics offer greater recombination possibilities, but because of this, also create complex challenges in developing true breeding strains.
This year I wanted to find tetraploid zinnias with flower forms different from the Giant State Fair descendents I’ve grown.. The only option I found was in the Burpee Big Tetra strain. I planted a row along side the grow out of seed saved last year from the Giant State Fairs, hoping to have new sources of pollen. I have not been disappointed. I’ve created a gallery showing each of the flowers in the row.