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zen_man

It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 24

10 years ago

Hello, everyone,

Welcome to this ongoing message thread. Once again, the previous part of this continuing series, It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 23, has become rather long and slow to load or read, so we are continuing the series here for yet another fresh start.

The same guidelines apply here. Anything remotely related to zinnias is fine. Now that Spring is upon us, we can start planning and preparing for our zinnia gardens. As always, if you have any related pictures, you are invited to post them.

As I indicated in a previous message, I was hoping that my "ugly duckling" star-pointed white mutant zinnia had the possibility for turning into "a beautiful swan", and this current indoor specimen gives me encouragement about that.

{{gwi:4693}} I like to experiment with new things, and since this forum limits our picture sizes to no more than 550 pixels wide, I have modified that picture so that if you click on it, a new window should open with a larger version of that picture. You can make that picture look a little better by hitting your F11 function key on a Windows system to hide the browser stuff at the top of the picture. (I am not sure what key you should hit on a Mac -- maybe F11.) You can "undo" the F11 key by hitting it again, and you can close that window by clicking on the "X" in the upper right-hand corner. Another way to exit that big picture is to push your mouse pointer to the top of the picture, which will bring down some of your browser controls, which will let you close the window without re-using the F11 key. That should return you back to here. My 1280 x 1024 Sony monitor is not particularly large, so let me know how this scheme is working on your monitors.

Back to that zinnia. This specimen is a hybrid between a tubular specimen and the star-tipped mutant, and it gets a "modernized" look on its petal tips. I think it has possibilities for F2 recombinance in its offspring. More later.

ZM

This post was edited by zenman on Thu, Mar 27, 14 at 21:20

Comments (103)

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi Alex,

    I got Whirligigs planted into that West half of the new tunnel, and the first layer of a covering installed on that half. Weather permitting, I will plant Burpeeana Giants in the East half tomorrow.

    I have shown a picture of this indoor zinnia before, but it continues to produce new blooms, and this is the current new bloom.

    {{gwi:4725}} I have removed a few petal-flowers from a previous bloom on that plant, dissected them, and discovered that the petal-flowers seem to contain well developed anther bundles. It would seem that those petal-flowers may be pollen florets in disguise. It depends on whether those anther bundles and internal stigmas are fertile, and produce selfed seeds. I will be keeping an eye on its green seeds to see if they are developing into fat viable versions. More later.

    ZM

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    ZM - You don't mention it, but can you slit open some of the florets without removing them, so that you can get pollen to hand-cross with?

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  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi Alex,

    "...but can you slit open some of the florets without removing them, so that you can get pollen to hand-cross with?"

    That's an excellent idea. I will try it out today. And I might just "sacrifice" some of the petal-florets to use as pollinators, as well. This is a picture of the bloom that I removed a few petal-florets from, to study and dissect them.

    {{gwi:4726}} After all, I don't hesitate to pick the "regular" zinnia florets to use as pollinator "brushes". It is possible that the pollen is viable in these petal-florets, even if their stigmas aren't viable. By crossing this specimen with various tubular petaled breeders, I might be able to solve the "hidden stigma"problem that most of the tubular petaled specimens have. With their stigmas hidden in their tubes, their tubular petal pollination is very much impeded, and they rely on conventional florets interspersed among the petals to produce seeds.

    (There have been several instances in which tubular petaled specimens produced large seed yields of "naturally pollinated" petal seeds, and I have yet to solve the mystery of how this happens. The tubular petals do not contain anther bundles, or least none that I have found, and I have dissected over a hundred tubular petals looking for anther bundles, without finding even a trace of them.)

    Eventually I will want a strain of tubulars that are "self fertile" in their tubular petals, and this odd zinnia specimen just might be the key to achieving that. More later. Busy, busy.

    ZM

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    ZM - Not sure why I would think it, but I would bet that the pollen would be viable even if the stigmas weren't capable of being impregnated, if that's what you would call it in a plant.
    - Alex

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi Alex,

    "...but I would bet that the pollen would be viable even if the stigmas weren't capable of being impregnated, if that's what you would call it in a plant. "

    I think in a plant it is called "fertilized". I pollinated three different tubular petaled specimens with the pollen from this specimen. Incidentally, its code designation is H11.

    {{gwi:4728}} Rather than split the petals, I simply removed the petal-floret, leaving the green seed part still in the flower head, to develop into a seed if it happened to be already fertilized. I opened up the petal florets to access the anther bundles. Incidentally, I now know that there is a stigma inside the anther bundle, or slightly protruding from it. I looked at the anthers through a hand microscope and observed that there are yellow pollen grains on the anthers.

    So I harvested several petal-florets, extracted anther bundles, and used the whole bundle, or individual anthers from the bundle to rub on the stigmas of the target tubular petaled specimens. I used my head mounted magnifier and my fine-pointed tweezers for those delicate handling jobs. I will repeat that procedure with several additional target female blooms tomorrow.

    It is becoming evident that H11 has a lot of genes from the original star-petaled mutant (G13). Including that the star points age to brown as the petal ages. But zinnia petals in general become less attractive as they age, so I guess that is acceptable. However, I regard these recombinants as mere steps along the way toward better things in the future. H11 differs from G13 in one important respect -- G13 had conventional pollen florets and apparently H11 does not.

    I inspected the oldest bloom on H11, looking for viable green seeds, and there are a few, but the majority of its petal-florets have not produced a fertilized green seed. Most "regular" zinnia florets do produce self-fertilized green seeds.

    We had a rain and hail tonight, and last night we had a good rain, so the garden is too muddy to work in for the time being. Tomorrow I can concentrate again on indoor gardening and pollinating some more zinnia blooms with H11 pollen. More later. Thanks again for the tip about using pollen from the H11 petal-florets.

    ZM

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    ZM - my duty is to serve! :)
    And now, my other duties include transplanting the rest of the cabbage seedlings to their second pots, and planting the rest of the pre-germinated tomato seeds. Nicked some of those, too - to good effect.

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    ZM, I absolutely adore H11. Like, I really, really like it. Maybe we could organize some kind of a trade later in the summer? I would happily grow a couple of those in the garden and send back the results.

    Anyways, not much interesting going on here. A ton of rain and thunderstorms has made it an indoor-only affair, although today is supposed to be sunny and windy, so it may dry up a bit of the severe flooding. We got somewhere around 7 inches of rain since Wednesday, which is nearly enough to cover two average months of rainfall here. My onions didn't fair too well, but I kept some in the container protected from hail just in case.

    {{gwi:4729}}
    I promised to post a bit of an update about my zinnias, but frankly they haven't grown as fast as I anticipated. That's good news, because I probably started them a little too early anyways. You can see in this picture that the two zinnias on the left sprouted out rather quickly, while the zinnia on the right was slower. I had lousy germination - much, much lower than I'm used to, so I only ended up with three zinnias this time. The plant in the background on the right is not a zinnia. I don't know what it is, and won't be able to tell for a while longer. Sometimes mysteries are good, and I look forward to solving this one later.

    I may experiment with planting zinnias a little deeper than normal this year, to promote drought tolerance and see what comes of it. It wouldn't surprise me if zinnias behave a lot like peppers, putting out some more roots along the stem when buried deeper. I don't expect the same level as tomatoes, but it's worth looking into in my opinion.

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Telescody,
    Yes, you can do this with zinnias as well as most other things that aren't crown-oriented like, say - strawberries or foxglove. I generally pot everything deeper when transplanting indoors and again outside if it seems necessary. I also trim the roots if there are long dangly pieces that would otherwise curl up in the bottom of the pot. As I'm sure you can guess, the pruning stimulates more side growth of roots. Again, you shouldn't do this with things that grow a long taproot, such as lupines.

    About that mystery plant - ha! I've got one of those, too! It came up along side some other seedlings, and though I could tell it was one of the flowers and not one of the veggies, I wasn't sure which one. I potted it by itself, thinking it was probably one of the rudbeckias, but now I'm thinking it's the tall verbena. Which is ironic, because germination on those was very poor. Maybe they just like growing with company. :)

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hello everybody,

    This is what my outdoor garden looks like now. The covering over the west half of the third tunnel is only partial and after I get the whole tunnel planted, I will cover it completely.

    {{gwi:4730}} It was cold and overcast when I took that picture a few days ago, and it is cold and overcast now. Fortunately, indoor gardening activities aren't affected by the weather. This is a picture of one of my current tubular breeders that I am cross pollinating.

    {{gwi:4731}} Unlike H11, it has its own conventional pollen florets. Since I have to "surgically alter" the petals to get access to the stigmas inside the tubes, a tubular flower is pretty much wrecked after I pollinate it. This is another current breeder, the picture taken just before the pollination activities.

    {{gwi:4732}} Pollinating and cross pollinating zinnias is enormously more convenient indoors, because you can move their pots around and set the ones you are currently working on side-by-side. And working under bright fluorescent lighting is pleasant. I keep a cup of coffee, tea, or a cold drink nearby, and sit in an old office chair while doing the pollinating. And think about the interesting possibilities of the crosses I am making. Or just daydream in general. It's a pleasant activity. More later. That old office chair is waiting for me, along with a bunch more breeder zinnias that need to be pollinated.

    ZM

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    ZM,
    Telescody had the same idea I had a year or so ago. Would it be helpful to you if you had others growing out some of your less "special" breeders around the country? With technology the way it is, we could take pictures of buds and blooms and send them to you for direction on culling or keeping. We could do some of the less meticulous cross pollinating jobs as well as seed collection. Of course, that would remove the immediate control from your hands, which might feel too uncomfortable for you. But, if you just need to increase numbers of seeds of a particular variety, or are trying to stabilize a particular strain, I know I would love to help and would promise to keep all plant material "safe" for you. I would not ask for any recognition, financial or otherwise, when you become rich and famous. lol. It's just fun to ride the coat tails of someone with a passion such as yours. Think about it. You'll obviously be doing this for years to come, and you might find unexpected needs somewhere down the line.

    Martha

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hello Martha,

    You raise some very interesting points, and I will take your advice to "think about it." This year I will have my largest zinnia garden ever, and for the time being I can grow all the zinnia seed that I can produce. But that could change. It is hard to predict the future and I "might find unexpected needs somewhere down the line."

    "...when you become rich and famous. lol."

    LOL indeed. I started this hobby purely to have fun and not to make money. It has turned out to be more fun than I expected and I continue to be surprised by the zinnias. As a hobby, it is something I spend money on -- soil amendments, soluble nutrients, indoor lights, a new garden tool, there is always something I want or need to further the hobby. And that part is fun, too.

    For the time being I am more interested in discovering what zinnias can do than in developing stable strains. Although zinnias are showing me some "new looks" that probably are worthy of becoming new strains. But I think I am years away from having stable strains of new zinnias worthy of introduction. I will cross that bridge when and if I come to it.

    As to whether developing new zinnias could become a cooperative multi-person endeavor, that is something to think about. There are some issues and problems associated with that, but we can discuss them in more detail in future messages.

    The weather here was mild today and I planted the East half of my third tunnel to Burpeeana Giants. The low tunnels house four rows of zinnias, which amounts to one of my "standard beds". One of my goals is to select out some good separate color strains of Burpeeana Giants, including a white strain. Those will also be useful for some interesting crosses with some of my "exotic" strains.

    Speaking of which, I notice that one of my current tubular specimens reminds me somewhat of a Lantana bloom.

    {{gwi:4733}} That is actually the same specimen that appeared in my last picture, from a somewhat different angle so that more of the bloom is at least partially in focus. My photographic skills could use some work. Incidentally, all of my photos in this Part 24 thread have larger versions that will open in a separate window if you click on the picture. As I mentioned previously, hit the F11 key to "clean up" the big picture window, and after you have seen the big picture, hit the F11 key again to bring back the tabs to let you close that window to return back here.

    I am curious to see what will happen if I cross some of my tubular and star-petaled specimens with big zinnias like the Burpeeanas. More later.

    ZM

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I have a rare treat today. An empty house. My husband is driving to Iowa to visit his parents, my two teenagers are with their dad for spring break, and my two "foster" teenagers are at friends' for the night. So, I took my quiet time to sow 8 milk jugs of zinnia seeds for my butterfly/pollinator garden. I also spent an hour wandering the garden, picking up fallen branches and pulling aside the collected leaves to peek at the first tiny green perennial sprouts. I am in heaven! My next goal is to sit and make paper tubes for my solitary bee nests. This is a new endeavor for me this year. I've been reading about the native pollinators that have been here since before honeybees were imported from Europe. They are quite amazing, but are threatened, just as many valuable insect populations. One easy help humans can provide is appropriate nesting spaces, since these bees normally use holes produced by woodpeckers or rodents or beetles, or hollow reeds. These sites are less and less available. Anyone interested in learning more can search "Mason Bees" or "The Xerces Society". I think I spelled that correctly.

    Hope everyone else is having a lovely spring day. The sun is even shining here!

    Martha

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi everyone,

    Well, I got my second tunnel planted yesterday afternoon. I am doing them in reverse order, 3, 2, 1. The contents of the second tunnel are the same as the third one: Whirligigs in the West half and Burpeeanas in the East half. I will be working on the first tunnel today.

    I have been meaning to include some green zinnias in my breeding program, and this indoor specimen is the first one that gets breeder status.

    {{gwi:4734}} It is a Tequilla Lime from Burpee. I like that white center. I wish I had a big white Burpeeana to cross it with, but I don't have any Burpeeanas in bloom right now. So I will cross it with what is in bloom, namely some of my weirdo tubulars and star-petaled crosses. I plan to grow some more green zinnias outside so that I will have the opportunity of crossing them with Burpeeanas and Whirligigs and scabiosa flowered zinnias. More later. Lots to do outside and inside.

    ZM

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    ZM - I like that Tequila Lime. Got a notice back from T&M that they were out of stock on the Green Envy, so unless I just luck out in the flower seed display case next time I go to town, I won't be growing any green zinnias this season. I am done with ordering, and must be strong in resisting temptation! I've got the scabious flowered zinnia seed to cross with my cactus, so that's good enough for now.

    Your tunnels look good. Wish I could be out digging in the garden myself, but it was only yesterday that the remainder of the flower garden area finally lost its snow cover. Snowdrops and one lone species tulip are the only things showing color. Even the daffodils are only an inch high. It's supposed to rain today, but that's OK, since I really should be inside transplanting tomatoes out of their cells and into the styrofoam cups I use in place of garden pots. I like the cups, since I feel like they breathe more than the plastic pots, and are, of course, lighter than clay pots. And though I tend to reuse them for several years before I toss them out, they're cheap so that I don't feel a twinge about cutting one off a plant if I'm trying to be extra careful about not disturbing its roots while transplanting. Also, they're somewhat pliable, and I can squish an extra row of cups into a flat to save on space, something that is always a premium. :)
    - Alex

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi Alex,

    " ... so unless I just luck out in the flower seed display case next time I go to town, I won't be growing any green zinnias this season. "

    Green zinnias were not a priority item for me, either. At times I have seen Green Envy on seed racks, but it is a little too green for my tastes.

    " ... since I really should be inside transplanting tomatoes out of their cells and into the styrofoam cups I use in place of garden pots. "

    I have used Styrofoam cups in the past, and the bottom part of 2-liter bottles for somewhat larger pots. I went to commercial square pots because they make fuller use of my limited shelf space. And they are reusable for many years.

    "I've got the scabious flowered zinnia seed to cross with my cactus, so that's good enough for now. "

    They will be good enough for now. Actually, you can get a variety of different good results from scabious x regular zinnia crosses. The F1 crosses can be quite good, and there is an even wider range of forms that you can get in the F2 generation. One of my current indoor zinnias shows scabious influence.

    {{gwi:4735}} The outer "guard" petals have picked up some size and corrugated texture from some hybrid influences, and its central florets may have picked up some influence from star-tipped mutant genes. I have given that specimen breeder status, and will use its pollen when available, as well as its stigmas for seeds.

    Scabious florets can be thought of as short tubular flowers, and I look forward to combining the scabious genes with tubular genes and star-tipped genes. There are a lot of possible recombinations from a mix like that. I would like to get some really huge scabious florets.

    I planted the West half of tunnel 1 yesterday, and probably will finish up planting the East half today. That will complete the tunnels plantings. We are having mild and even warm weather currently. Though it has been windy, which complicates sowing seeds without losing them to the wind. But this is Kansas. More later.

    ZM

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hey, Zenman -
    I really love the scabious look; am hopeful I can get something almost the size of the cactus flowered, but with that crest on the top. And, of the other older pics you've posted in past forums, I most like the ones with the longer guard petals that have that cactus-y look and the graceful downward-drooping sweep to them. Very elegant.

    I made it outside before the rains which look like they will be here any minute. Went to check on perennials, and was pleased to see that most of my transplants from last spring have made it through the cold and are starting to appear - yay!
    Also, cleaned the birdhouses, and remounted one that had been blown down. That area of the garden gets the brunt of the west wind blowing up through the valley, but it also has been the favored site of the 5 birdhouses up, occasionally sparking wars between bluebirds and swallows. So far the bluebirds have always lost the battle. I was thinking that maybe I should put up one more house a little further down the hill and closer to the marsh - maybe the bluebirds would accept that, though possibly the swallows would just try to take over that one, too. Anyway, within seconds of my having finished remounting the house onto the tall metal fence pole, before I'd even made it down the ladder, there they were flying over my head! And as soon as I had the ladder down and had moved away, they were in the house. Job well done - how satisfying.

    - Alex

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi Alex,

    Your birdhouses and birds seem to be an interesting part of your gardening experience. We have a mockingbird that entertains us every evening.

    "...am hopeful I can get something almost the size of the cactus flowered, but with that crest on the top. And, of the other older pics you've posted in past forums, I most like the ones with the longer guard petals..."

    The guard petals on the scabious zinnias are short and relatively broad, and getting them to be long and relatively narrow does require some recombination. I think that most, perhaps all, of the F1 hybrids I have made between scabious and non-scabious types have had relatively broad guard petals, even when the flower size was increased significantly by crossing the scabious zinnia with a large-flowered zinnia. It is in the F2 recombinant generation when the genes are reshuffled enough to get long narrow guard petals.

    {{gwi:4736}} That specimen shows apparent Whirligig ancestry with its bicolored guard petals. I think that many of my flower forms that involved long narrow petals had Whirligig ancestry.

    My aster flowered zinnias also have long narrow petals, and I think that they also have Whirligig ancestry. Whirligigs have been responsible for many of the variations in my hybrid zinnias, and I continue to grow them for that reason.

    I did finish planting the East half of my first tunnel, using newly saved recombinant seeds from my indoor gardening. And I got that tunnel covered. Now to cover tunnel 2 and tunnel 3 before the coming cold spell. It is warm here today. More later.

    ZM

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    ZM -
    Just received the final message from T&M - "no Whirligig Zinnias for you!" So - no Whirligigs and no Green Envy. It only took them about 5 separate communications to finish the order - none of these precipitated by me except for my initial order. It's nice to be kept in "the know", but really, that was a little ridiculous for 2 packets of seeds. Not to say confusing, because in one e-mail they say they are crediting me $5.00 for the Green Envy, and in the mail today, along with my "sorry we have no whirligigs", there is a check for $2.86, which if I read this correctly is for the shipping and handling charge. Hmmm...do I really care to go look and see if they've got it right? Nah!

    I guess I'll see what I can find at the store next time I'm in town. I won't be able to plant out until the end of May, I'm sure, judging by the weather this year, so I'm not going to start any zinnias indoors until the beginning of May, I've decided. I don't have room under the lights anyway with all the rest of the stuff there.

    Just went through a horrendous, power-outing, tree-uprooting, telephone pole undermining, roof-blowing off and flooding two days of storms here. Out of those choices, we experienced the power outage for about 24 hours, and a flooded basement. The basement flooding is not uncommon this time of year, and we have what is called a Michigan basement which is little more than a hole in the ground with a token cement floor (salamanders optional). Normally, we just wade through and throw the sump pump in the drain area and let it do its thing. Unfortunately, the pump does not work without electricity, and - ha-ha, we had never purchased that generator we always talked about. Until now. After many hours of bailing water with 5 gallon buckets, waiting for the dawn when stores would finally open up. Which, as it turns out, they didn't open, because their power was out, too. Oh, they had generators, of course, but not access to the internet apparently, so they couldn't run their computers, I guess. And as we all know, NO ONE seems capable of completing a business transaction these days without one!
    But as it turns out, with our bailing (and, let me add, my bailing by myself after the husband went to try and find a generator), and the rain stopping finally, the water level started to go down enough that the drain was able to do its job. When John got back with the generator (after driving from town to another village), the water was gone. But we are ready for the next crisis. :)
    - Alex

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi Alex,

    What a nightmare! I feel for you. And T&M underperformed badly, too. I guess they mean well.

    Stokes seems to have Whirligigs back in stock. An ounce for only $3.65 is a good deal, because that amounts to well over a thousand Whirligig seeds. I bought a quarter pound a few years ago and I will just be planting the last of them this year.

    I got all three of my tunnels planted and covered just in time for a storm here. High winds, rain, and then this morning, snow. The temperature is milder now and the snow is all gone. I was glad the fabric stayed on the tunnel framework, considering how much wind we had. I was also glad we didn't lose our electricity. Our electric company went on an extensive tree trimming program a couple of months ago, and that seems to have paid off. More later.

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

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    ZM -
    Snow - ah yes, I remember that stuff. It looks remarkably like the stuff which is more than an inch deep outside right now as I type this. It started yesterday right on cue. Will give those weather stations their due - they call it pretty close these days. Ours has not melted off yet, but temps are supposed to rise again, so no doubt it will.

    Yes, they did an extensive tree trimming in our area year before last. Actually trimming is the wrong word - it was more like a massacre. Don't know for sure what took the power out, but as it was an electrical storm as well as torrential rain and high winds, that could have been a factor.

    Glad you didn't lose your fabric - judging by the pics, you look to be in a flat stretch of open farmland, and I know how bad the winds can get here without some windbreak.
    - Alex

    This post was edited by samhain10 on Tue, Apr 15, 14 at 8:41

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi Alex,

    "Snow - ah yes, I remember that stuff. It looks remarkably like the stuff which is more than an inch deep outside right now as I type this."

    Chuckle. You are significantly farther north than I am, but eventually you will get a chance at outdoor zinnia gardening. We both can spend the next few weeks planning and strategizing.

    "...really love the scabious look; am hopeful I can get something almost the size of the cactus flowered, but with that crest on the top."

    With my expanded garden space, I am going to move in that direction myself. Scabious recombinants can vary greatly in their guard petals, from no guard petals at all (I'll show some pictures of those in a later message), to nice long guard petals like you mention. So there are several possible strains based just on the nature of the guard petals. And for long guard petals, they can be narrow or wide, down-curved or up-curved, smooth tipped or toothed. Unlike Gregor Mendel's peas and their single-gene traits, almost all zinnia traits seem to be controlled by multiple genes, which opens up an almost unlimited range of possibilities in zinnias.

    I will show a few examples of scabious recombinants from my past zinnia gardens to show some of the possible directions to go with scabious recombinants. The florets on this one had long sharp points.

    {{gwi:4737}} That specimen calls attention to another characteristic, namely the angle that the guard petals make with the flower cone. This next scabious recombinant was described by one person as "an explosion in a paint factory".

    {{gwi:4738}} Zinnias are full of surprises. I'm not sure what was going on genetically with that specimen, but I kind of like it. It reminded me a bit of a Parrot Tulip, and encourages me to grow more scabious recombinants. This next one I would describe as "informal".

    {{gwi:4739}} Its guard petals were irregularly placed and there was some variation in its florets, with a few bordering on being petaloids. Something about this next one reminded me a bit of a Cosmos, maybe because of that "windblown" look.

    {{gwi:4740}} This next one had a "perky" look that appealed to me. Its guard petals had some upcurve, forming a dish that held a well organized floret center.

    {{gwi:4741}} And those guard petals were suffused toward white at the base, which was a good look. A strain based on just that flower in a complete range of zinnia colors would be a good thing. This next one reminded me somewhat of a Water Lily.

    {{gwi:4742}} Its central floret grouping could use some improvement, but those huge out-reaching guard petals had a definite "look".

    I plan to grow a lot of scabious recombinants this year, looking for new forms, cross pollinating them for more variation, and selfing selected specimens to "nudge" them toward stable strains. More later.

    ZM

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    ZM - These are all beautiful. If it were a simple matter of mix and match attributes, I think what I'd like would be guard petals somewhere in between the informal and the cosmos-type, but a little closer together, if not overlapping - but maybe downward facing like the one at the top; and a central cone with the lovely florets of that first one. Color optional - one of each, please! ;)
    Weather here is still yucky, though the temps are supposed to rise in a slow steady fashion for the next week. Went out yesterday in a still chilly wind and did a small amount of garden cleanup, just to appease my inner child who is wildly impatient for winter to END - period.
    - Alex

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi Alex,

    "I think what I'd like would be guard petals somewhere in between the informal and the cosmos-type, but a little closer together, if not overlapping - but maybe downward facing like the one at the top..."

    I may have more than one preference for the guard petals. I kind of like the huge petals on that last "Water Lily" specimen. I think that I would like "toothy" guard petals, although I haven't seen that variation yet. I also like long, thin guard petals, like on the picture I posted last Saturday.

    I also like the no-guard-petals-at-all variation, in which the flower head consists of just various variations of petal-colored florets.

    {{gwi:4743}} Some of those specimens continue to build the central floret zone until it becomes almost a complete sphere.

    {{gwi:4744}} That bud in the left-hand foreground is actually on the same plant. Notice its similarity to a marigold bloom.

    I have had several zinnias that formed almost complete sphere blooms, and I rather like the look, at least as a novelty. It might be worthwhile trying to develop a strain with spherical balls as blooms.

    "...and a central cone with the lovely florets of that first one."

    I have several goals for the central cone, including that "perky" cone in the orange-and-white flower in the previous message. I also like the idea of the "complete sphere" cones, and I think I would also like a very tall central cone. And I would like to see some fantastic new stuff in the central cones. I am open to any cone surprises that the zinnias might have in store for me.

    "Color optional - one of each, please! ;) "

    Amen to that. That is one reason I will be planting a bunch more Burpeeanas in-ground this Spring. I want to build up my color palette of big zinnias for color-range-extending cross pollinating. More later. I have some indoor gardening to do. I really enjoy it.

    ZM

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    ZM - isn't that interesting with the wildly contrasting bloom shapes on the same plant? Almost as if it was a sport - do you see this often? Yes, it is very like a marigold - of course, the similarity is enhanced by the characteristic marigold yellow.
    That first pic is very attractive, but I guess I have to say again that the globe-shape isn't as appealing to me, really in just about any flower. Occasionally some of my papaver somniferums are heavily doubled to be almost globular, but they are not nearly as pretty to me as the semi-doubles. However, I'm going to be just starting with this hybridizing thingie, so I won't be sticking up my nose at any interesting variations that I might be so fortunate to get! :)

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi Alex,

    "... isn't that interesting with the wildly contrasting bloom shapes on the same plant? Almost as if it was a sport - do you see this often?"

    Yes, it is interesting, and kind of mysterious, because I do see it fairly often. It does seem that one zinnia branch can be so different from another that you wonder if there is a genetic difference from one branch to another. New rose varieties do occasionally arise from bud sports, but I had the impression that bud sports are fairly rare. This situation with zinnias varying significantly from branch to branch is not very rare, at least not for me. Maybe it has to do with me doing so much cross pollination. Or maybe that is just the nature of zinnias. This is another of the zinnia mysteries for me.

    "... so I won't be sticking up my nose at any interesting variations that I might be so fortunate to get! :)"

    That's a good attitude. I spend a fair amount of time just looking my zinnias over to see what I have got. That is another "zen aspect" of zinnia growing. Noticing more small details, or not-so-small details. The center color can be the same as the petal color, or completely different. I now notice the diameter of the zinnia trunk at ground level, to gauge how strong the plant might be. That can vary quite a lot. I also notice the diameter of the stem attachment to the flower. And the size and shape of the leaves. Usually the leaves and branches arise from the main stem in pairs, but occasionally a node will give rise to three leaves and three branches. I refer to those as "threesies" and label the characteristic as 3Z. Getting a strain of 3Z zinnias is a quirky goal of mine.

    I hope you will consider growing some Whirligigs, because cross-pollinating with their interspecific background can give rise to totally new characteristics in your second and third generation zinnias. I like unusual petal shapes, and the progeny of some of my Whirligig x Cactus crosses have produced petal forms that neither parent had. One of my favorites is a long thin petal that is flat. By flat, I mean that it is neither rolled upward (as in JG's extreme rolls) or downward, as in many of the cactus flowered variants. I refer to those long thin petals as "aster flowered" for no particularly good reason. I will show a few examples of long, thin, flat petals.

    {{gwi:4745}} That's not a particularly attractive flower, but you probably won't get one like it from a commercial seed packet. The petals on this next one aren't quite so regular, but they follow the theme, somewhat.

    {{gwi:4746}} This specimen was a classic Aster Flowered zinnia, and one of my favorite breeders. It has definite Whirligig ancestry.

    {{gwi:4747}} The long, flat, thin petal form has the advantage that in some cases the petals can grow quite long. I called this breeder my "Pink Shaggy Dog".

    {{gwi:4748}} The lower petals on that bloom were over 4 inches long, which is pretty remarkable if you think about it. If, instead of hanging down like they did, they had stood straight out like some zinnia petals do, that zinnia flower would have been over 8 inches in diameter !!! Unfortunately, long thin flat petals are structurally weak, and do hang down.

    But I have had some specimens whose petals were corrugated enough, or arched enough, that their petals were mechanically capable of projecting straight out. My "dinosaur mutant" was one such form, and I will discuss it in a subsequent message. One of my breeding goals is to get really big zinnias in the 8-inches plus size range. And I think that, oddly enough, Whirligigs may be the "secret sauce" that makes that possible. More later.

    ZM

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    ZM - I love all of these, but especially the one you call the classic aster-flowered. That and variations on it would be an ideal for me to strive for.
    Yes, I remember your talking about plant structure, and wouldn't have thought of it otherwise, but of course that is an important point. It was very disappointing to me when I first bought some Double Click cosmos, and discovered that unlike the single flowered and some other semi-doubles like the Psyche series, these had heads so heavy that they all hung down. I suppose it might have just been that batch, but all of the plants from that packet seemed to have that problem. The stems weren't strong enough to hold the heads up. Time to go, but here's a pic of one of my papaver somniferums from last year - I love poppies!
    - Alex

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    You guys! I'm so sad!!!!!

    I had direct sown some zinnia seeds in my zinnia bed, because supposedly we weren't going to have more frosts... and then it frosted!! Literally the very next night.

    Do you think it killed my seeds??? :(

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi Desirai,

    There is a good chance it didn't kill your seeds, simply because they weren't up yet. In the past, I have had "volunteer" zinnias come up in my garden from seeds that accidentally spent the whole Winter in my garden. There are a couple of ways that might happen.

    I remove most of my dead zinnias in the Fall after a killing frost. It's possible that some seeds might have fallen on the ground during my Fall cleanup. But it is also possible that the volunteer zinnia seeds were knocked out of a zinnia seed head by birds. Some birds, finches for example, will eat zinnia seeds from the seed heads. Freezing might kill some zinnia seeds, but at least some zinnia seeds survive it.

    Sprinkle your seedbed every day and there is a good chance some zinnias will come up. Once they are up, they are vulnerable to frost.

    ZM

    This post was edited by zenman on Sat, Apr 19, 14 at 9:51

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hey Desirai,
    I'm with the Zenman on that one - your seeds are probably fine since they wouldn't have had time to come up yet. However, don't know how big your bed is, but if you see on the forecast that there's a possibility of frost in the future, you might want to have an old sheet or light blanket ready to throw over it before you go to bed. If your seedlings are starting to come up, position some pots through the bed to hold the blanket up so it doesn't inadvertently crush any seedlings. And if it's windy where you are, don't forget to put some weights around the edges. Can't tell you how envious I am that you're out there planting already... :)
    - Alex

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Well I went out there and poked around in the bed, it seems that some are starting to sprout but I think you were right, they hadn't sprouted before the frost hit so they seem to be fine! :)

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Samhain,
    Where are you in Michigan? I'm in Grand Rapids, and I have wintersown zinnias sprouting in milk jugs outside. I spent several hours this weekend clearing the leaves from around the perennial stalks from last year. Almost everything has green sprouts peeking up. Even with the harsh winter we had, my Rudbeckia hirta and snapdragons made it through and are greening up at the bases. Don't worry. You'll have blossoms before you know it.

    Martha

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Martha -
    We're an hour north of you near Mecosta. We make trips into GR now and again, and it's been my experience that you guys are as much as 3 weeks ahead of us, planting -wise.
    Yeah, I worked out in the garden a long time yesterday myself, cleaning things up. Most perennials are showing at least a little bit, though there are a few that I'm digging around saying "where are you?" The first daffodil could open up today! Supposed to be rain today, too.
    If I was really on top of things, I should be clearing a bed and planting some spinach and peas, but will instead go into the shop and do some other work. Sigh. :)
    - Alex

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi all,

    Alex, it looks like you will be able to do photographic justice to any zinnias whose pictures you want to show here. That poppy picture is a great close-up. Just out of curiosity, what kind of camera did you use to take that?

    And everyone. I have been touting Whirligigs as a good thing to cross your other things with, as a means of eventually getting some new things in your zinnia patch. This is a picture of a past cross between a Whirligig and a Burpeeana Giant, to give you some idea of what such an F1 hybrid might look like.

    {{gwi:4749}} That was a fairly large flower, approaching 6 inches in diameter, and it showed some of the cactus characteristics from the Burpeeana (which was probably the female in the cross). It also shows some of the two-tone characteristics inherited from the Whirligig pollen donor. But as is usually the case with these Burpeeana x Whirligig crosses, the border between the two colors has become suffused, which or may not be to your liking. And the colors themselves have become blended. (Neither parent had these colors.)

    The important thing isn't whether this particular "look" is what you are going for, but that this is reasonably certain to be an F1 hybrid between the chosen parents. There are few little hints of some unusual petal shapes here, but nothing too obvious. The really interesting stuff is yet to come -- in the progeny from this F1 cross. You can get those progeny by selfing this bloom, or by crossing it with a different zinnia bloom, which could be either an out-of-the-packet zinnia, or a different F1 cross you have made. Or you could do both, self and cross.

    Regardless of how you get those progeny, you will get F2-generation recombination of the genes from the two parents of this cross. Those genetic recombinations can and will produce traits that you haven't seen yet, not in the parents, and not in this F1 cross of other F1 crosses that you might choose it to cross it with.

    I will go into the genetic details of how these totally new traits can come into being in the F2 and subsequent generations. If you are familiar with the cellular processes of mitosis and meiosis, then you know where this discussion is going. There are some interesting implications of "virtual zinnias" that I want to call to your attention. But enough technical stuff for the moment. More later.

    ZM

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    As much as I love all the cool colors and shapes you are discovering, Zen, my central purpose for growing zinnias is to have a season-long source of pollen and nectar for the insects that might visit my garden. But, since you have examined each variety so closely, to accomplish your crosses, you would probably know which varieties are most likely to produce larger quantities of pollen and nectar. If you were to recommend one zinnia type for the insect lover, which would it be? And, can you imagine a cross that might produce an even better provider of nutrients for my bugs? Of course, I'm daily increasing the variety of native plants and flowering shrubs present in my garden. I just wondered if I could maximize the value of my zinnias.

    Martha

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi Martha,

    "...you would probably know which varieties are most likely to produce larger quantities of pollen and nectar. If you were to recommend one zinnia type for the insect lover, which would it be?"

    It would be Zowie! Yellow Flame. It was a 2006 All-America Selection winner. It has a high cone that puts out a load of new pollen florets each day. I linked you to the Park Seed listing, because Parks have better descriptions of their products than most anyone. But you could shop around for a lower price per seed. Since it is an award-winning F1 Hybrid, its seeds are quite expensive.

    And when you grow them this year, don't forget to violate the widespread admonition against saving seeds from F1 hybrids. By saving seeds from your Zowies you will save a ton of money and, yes, they won't "come true from seeds" because they are F1 hybrids. All the better, because many of your F2 Zowies will resemble the parent, and many more will be somewhat different. So pick the best ones to save seeds from, and you are in business breeding your own super-butterfly zinnia strain.

    Like I said, I really like to read the descriptions that Park Seed has, because their copy writers are the best. But for possibly some slightly lower cost Zowie sources, you might take a look at Harris Seed. Another source, Stokes Seeds usually has some better prices for amounts bigger than a packet. And another bulk seller that will sell retail is Hazzard's Seeds.

    I personally don't care for Zowie! Yellow Flame, because as Parks says, it has a "vintage form". I don't like zinnias that "throw pollen", but butterflies do. I do like zinnias that have the Zowie color scheme.

    {{gwi:4750}} I liked that one because it didn't have a tall central cone crowned with pollen florets, but it did have the bright tricolor color scheme.

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

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thank-you so much! That is exactly the info I was hoping for. Your knowledge is definitely a gift to those around you. I'm off to order seeds!

    Martha

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    ZM -
    That poppy picture is a great close-up. Just out of curiosity, what kind of camera did you use to take that?

    I'm using my Nikon d40X. I don't have a macro lens for it, though I do for my old manual SLR Canon TX. Unfortunately, those lens won't fit on the Nikon, though I understand some Nikon lens will fit on Canon and other models. I enjoy closeups; it's another world to explore.

    Yeah, I'll definitely have to pick up a packet of whirligigs when I go to the store next. Those won't be hard to find, I'm sure. I never was particularly attracted to them before, but you've got me convinced that I need them for my upcoming experiments. Let the fun begin! Oh, and here's another pic taken around the same time as the poppy.
    - Alex

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Alright then - was out and about today and picked up some whirligig and Green Envy Zinnia seeds. Am ready to make all sorts of exotic crosses. :)

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi Alex,

    "...and picked up some whirligig and Green Envy Zinnia seeds. Am ready to make all sorts of exotic crosses. :)"

    You are indeed. I can hardly wait to see some pictures of your zinnias. Incidentally, that sunflower and insect picture sure looks like you used a close-up lens. It's quite good. Which brings up the subject of your photo gear.

    "I'm using my Nikon d40X. I don't have a macro lens for it, though I do for my old manual SLR Canon TX. Unfortunately, those lens won't fit on the Nikon, though I understand some Nikon lens will fit on Canon and other models. I enjoy closeups; it's another world to explore. "

    Me too. It would be great if you could use that Canon macro lens on your Nikon D40X. I am thinking that there should be a lens mount adapter that would let you mount your Canon lenses on your Nikon. Do you think that this lens mount adapter might do the trick? I am fairly sure that adapter will fit on your D40X. One user reported a problem, but most users had no problem mounting the adapter on their Nikon. The only question is whether your Canon lenses are of the Canon FD or Canon FL type. That adapter is supposed to accommodate both of those Canon lens types. But do read all the user reviews of this adapter. For one thing, you would be stuck in a purely manual mode. But if you could get a macro lens on your Nikon for less than $40, that could be very cost effective.

    Another approach would be screw in close-up diopter filters that would screw into the filter threads on your Nikon lens. I would link you to some candidate close-up attachments, but I don't know the screw thread diameter of the Nikon lens(es) that you are using. The advantage of screw-on close-up lenses is that you would retain the auto focusing and auto exposure of your Nikon. You might get some spherical aberration from that, but there is software that can correct such aberrations in post processing.

    I am busy saving seeds from my indoor zinnias to get ready to plant them outdoors in the near future. We are supposed to get some rain tomorrow. More later.

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

    This post was edited by zenman on Wed, Apr 23, 14 at 13:15

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    ZM - without jumping up and checking, I'm pretty sure I checked all those adaptor possibilities and found that they wouldn't work. I'm not sure but I think the Canon lens was FG. I spent a good while researching (though I seem to have zero retention of the facts now); sat in on some chats, and all told me it wasn't going to work. My Canon is an antique - literally. I first picked it up over 35 years ago, in a flea market, already used even then. But as my friend who was with me and very much into photography told me, it was an excellent camera. And so it was. It was completely manual, so I learned a few things about taking a good photo that I might not have otherwise. But don't expect me to understand or talk any technical jargon. I have a hopelessly selective memory. You can come up with the name of some obscure American author from the 50s or 60s and I might be able to say "Oh yeah, he wrote such and such and I think I have a couple in backstock", but as John likes to tell customers: "Sure, we remember this stuff, but other than that, we have to have a map to get home at night." :)
    - Alex

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi Alex,

    Canon FG doesn't "ring a bell" on Google, but I accept that we are talking antiques here, and an adapter probably isn't worth pursuing. I used a Canon EOS SLR for many years, until the film back door eventually broke off. It was apparently a metal fatigue problem, and it would cost more to repair than the camera was worth, so that was the end of my film photography days. I used borrowed digital cameras until I purchased my Nikon D3200 when they first came out. More later. You are getting great pictures with what you have and, as they say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

    ZM

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    ZM - see? I told you don't expect me to know the technical stuff! Anyway, the "G" I was remembering was from the Nikon lens which says: Nikon DX -- AF-S NIKKOR 18-55 mm 1:3.5-5.6GII ED. Only remembered that there was a "G" in there somewhere. The Canon is a TX, but the lens on it at the moment (not the macro, but the regular 50 mm) says just inside when I remove it from the camera: Q704. I really loved that camera. As I also purchased a used zoom lens some years back that I've never really gotten much use out of, I think eventually I will pick the Canon up again and play with it. Digital does spoil you though, doesn't it? Not having to turn film in to have it processed is amazing, and a whole heck of alot cheaper!
    One final note on a totally different subject - I just have to share this because it blew my mind when I saw it. This past spring I cut new poles for my tomato trellis - culling some of the small trees that grow so freely around the property. We're not talking small pencil sized saplings - these are young trees several inches in diameter, boxelder and walnut. I'd wanted to clear some of them out anyway, since they were too close together. I noticed halfway through the gardening season that one of the boxelder poles which was a good 8-1/2" in diameter had sprouted some leaves along the trunk. Not surprising - there's still life in that trunk for awhile after cutting. Yesterday I was out cleaning things in the garden. As I was taking down the trellis (I rotate crops every year, so I will be planting the tomatoes in a new area) I noticed that same pole had some rather longish sprouts off of it that looked like they were still alive. I dug up the pole to find that it had actually rooted! I've taken cuttings of things before, but to get an 8 ft foot tall, 8-1/2" diameter cutting to root is definitely a first!
    - Alex

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi Alex,

    That's a great story about your 8-foot tall "cutting". Reminds me of some of those movies in which magical trees come to life and walk. In the past I have had some sticks that I used as row markers put out leaves, but never any that struck roots, that I know of. Incidentally, you can grow zinnias from cuttings, if you use a bactericide like Physan 20 to keep the soft cuttings from rotting.

    I found this Wiki write-up about your Canon TX. Interestingly, it does have a standard Canon FD lens mount, which means that the lens mount adapter that I linked to above should make your Nikon D40X capable of accepting a Canon FD lens. And since your macro lens fits your Canon TX, your Canon macro must have been a Canon FD lens, or at least compatible with the Canon FD mount interface.

    Incidentally, the lens adapter that I linked to is probably not the only lens adapter that would fit your Nikon D40X. It was just the first one that I came across in the Amazon website. There are quite a few different lens adapters available. Once again, not trying to sell you on the idea of putting your Canon macro lens on your Nikon. Just pointing out a possible option for you. The floral pictures you are taking with your current rig are more than capable of showing your future zinnias.

    "...I think eventually I will pick the Canon up again and play with it. "

    By "play with it", do you mean take pictures with it? Most of the companies (including Kodak) that made 35mm film have discontinued producing it. I don't recall having seen any 35mm film cartridges for sale recently, although it has been many years since I have been in a camera store. Fujifilm might still support 35mm film. And the place that developed it might offer a service to provide a digital version of your images. I have an Epson scanner that I use to recover digital versions of my old chemical film images.

    We had about an inch of rain this morning, along with some high winds, lightning, and a few pea-sized hail. The soil is wet now, but tomorrow I think I will plant a few zinnias in-ground outside, taking a bit of a chance. The long range forecast calls for some low nighttime temps in the 30's next week. Perhaps not freezing, though.

    I plan to plant some old seeds of a discontinued zinnia variety called "Zig Zag". It was somewhat similar to Whirligigs, and I suspect it may have been developed by inter-planting Whirligigs with other larger zinnias. In fact, that last picture I posted, that tricolored one, was a Zig Zag. It really annoys me when they discontinue a zinnia variety. Some very interesting zinnia varieties have "bit the dust". More later.

    ZM

    This post was edited by zenman on Thu, Apr 24, 14 at 16:41

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    ZM - yes, I'd certainly be interested in finding an adaptor that worked! I guess I'll have to look into it all again, unless you can backtrack and give me the links other than Wiki that told you about those adaptors. I swear I looked at all that stuff, and had been convinced the adaptors wouldn't work, but I'd love to be proven wrong. Wait a minute, maybe it's the macro-lens I should be checking...Oh, later - so much to do right now.

    Yeah, why do they have to discontinue strains that are good? I keep looking for a particular broccoli called Cruiser that I thought was great - gone from the catalogs, alas.

    Now really - you see how you are? Just because you have moved on in the modern world, you think the old world doesn't exist anymore. Of course you can still buy 35 mm film! Not that I have in a while. Maybe the most recent time was last year. I have a scanner that will scan negatives, and I had them develop the film, but not print it, since I could save it digitally from the scanner.

    We are ready for some more rain - maybe tomorrow they say.

    - Alex

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi Alex,

    " I'd certainly be interested in finding an adaptor that worked! I guess I'll have to look into it all again, unless you can backtrack and give me the links other than Wiki that told you about those adaptors. "

    Well, I think there is a really good chance that the adapter I originally linked to would work. I'll repeat the link here. It is the Fotodiox Lens Mount Adapter, Canon FD, FL Lens to Nikon Camera, for Nikon D7100, D7000, D5200, D5100, D3100, D300, D300S, D200, D100, D50, D60, D70, D80, D90, D40, D40x, N70s, D80, D800, D800e, D4, D3, D2, D1, D300, D300s, and D200. You can read the product description and then read the 26 customers reviews that Amazon has published for the product. Amazon has a good reputation for letting you return a product if it doesn't work for you or turns out to be defective. With no hassle they let me return a telescopic sight for a rifle that didn't live up to my expectations. I think if that adapter didn't work for you that you could return it.

    "I swear I looked at all that stuff, and had been convinced the adaptors wouldn't work, but I'd love to be proven wrong."

    Well, at the time you checked, there may not have been an adapter to use Canon FD lenses on Nikon SLRs. That adapter includes compatibility with Nikon D7100, D7000, D5200 cameras, which are relatively "late model" cameras. And almost all the lens adapters on Amazon are designed to adapt Nikon lenses for use on Canon cameras. Only the one I linked, and another that was out of stock, were to adapt Canon lenses for use on Nikon cameras.

    "Wait a minute, maybe it's the macro-lens I should be checking..."

    You should verify that it is a Canon FD or FL lens, and that it is in serviceable condition.

    " I have a scanner that will scan negatives, and I had them develop the film, but not print it, since I could save it digitally from the scanner."

    Impressive. So you also can extract digital images from all those old film negatives. I have an old Epson Perfection V750 Pro that can scan transparencies or opaque material. A good many years ago I bought a Stereo Realist camera and took a bunch of stereo slides. I have scanned a few, and made large prints from them for my sister, but I should take the time to scan a bunch more of them. It has three selectable scanning resolutions, 4800 dpi, 6400 dpi, and 9600 dpi. The higher the resolution, the slower the scan. And I use the maximum resolution on my stereo slides, because each side of a slide is only 23 x 24 mm. Not much to work with. Fortunately, Kodachrome is almost grainless, and I can get decent 8x10s from a stereo slide. I have some software (onOne's Perfect Resize) that could let me go bigger, but I haven't tried that yet.

    I have been thinking about getting a beam splitter for my Nikon D3200 so I could take some 3D pictures with it. And maybe some 3D video. It would be "cool" to take some 3D footage of a wooly worm eating away at one of my zinnias. Maybe not. My zinnia gardens have a surprisingly diverse ecology, with a lot of opportunities for close-up photography and videography. More later.

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

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi everyone,

    As I prepare to plant my first zinnias in-ground today, I am reviewing my objectives for this year. Last year was devoted mainly to crossing the star-pointed petal mutation securely into my gene pool, and I think that has been successful. So this year I will be returning to some of my previous goals.

    One of my favorite zinnia variations has long flat rather narrow petals. I refer to these as "Aster flowered" because they have some characteristics in common with Crego Asters. Normally these petals would be like strips of confetti and just hang down like "limp noodles", but some specimens have long, thin, narrow petals with linear corrugations that give the petal structural strength to stand out straight from the central flower cone, like this one.

    {{gwi:4752}} Like all of my pictures here in Part 24, you can see a larger version of the picture in its own window by clicking on the picture and then use the F11 key to hide the new window's heading, which gives the picture full use of that window. You can then come back here easily by hitting the F11 key again to restore the window heading, which gives you access to a tab to close that window.

    There has been a lot of crossing in the ancestry of that zinnia, so it has one of those hard-to-name colors that zinnias can have. Many zinnias have very subtle colors, like the paint chips in home stores or housepaint stores. I like to cross white zinnias with other colors to get pastel colors, and then make crosses using those new colors.

    I will be intercrossing aster flowered specimens this year to add more diversity to the strain. And I will begin the creation of new examples of the Aster flowered strain by making new crosses between Burpeeana Giants and Whirligigs or Zig Zags. I hope eventually to get Aster flowered zinnias in a complete range of zinnia colors, which is probably well over a hundred different colors. Paint comes in many colors, and so do zinnias. More later.

    ZM

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    ZM - thanks very much for the link. I'll save it to look at later when my mind is clearer. Have just been up most of the night with a sick cat. :(
    The aster-flowered zinnia you've posted is gorgeous, and the color is beautiful! Probably my favorite of all you've put up.

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hey everyone! Really sorry that I haven't posted in a couple weeks, but it got really busy around here preparing for Easter and some other things came up, well, I just haven't got around to making a post. I have some pretty exciting news!
    My "early" zinnias are starting to flower!
    Woohoo!!!
    Right on time, too, because I was just thinking about how they need to go in the ground in the next couple days. There's some severe storms headed this way, but after that, I'm gonna set them into the ground somewhere.
    {{gwi:4753}}
    {{gwi:4754}}
    {{gwi:4755}}

    These little guys have been outside for the past week or maybe more, in a partly shady spot, without much protection from the wind. You can see that there's a bent pepper in front of the tallest zinnia, and that's because I moved it out when it was too windy the first day. The poor thing just blew over, but it recovered. The zinnias were less damaged because they were more compact. The temperatures here have been fantastic, around 65-75f high, >40f low. I'm pretty sure that we're past the last frost, but we had snow in May last year, so I'm keeping an eye out on the extended forecasts.
    If the temperature does dip down and there is a frost, I will cover anything that needs it. And the temperature should go back up pretty soon after that.

    This is also a good time to be starting seeds outside for me. I'm still going with my original plan, to start them in trays until they have some real leaves, then poke them in the ground on a calm and warm evening. By the morning, most of them will recover. By the end of the second day, if you didn't do any major damage, all of them will be 90% healthy and growing again. I really like the speed of zinnias, how they grow so fast and recover so fast, how they bloom early and so on. While these ones are attracting some bugs, the next batch of zinnias can be growing. Things should be in full swing by the heat of summer.

    I'm still thinking of a pruning scheme that fits my style, and for now I think I will grow these zinnias to first bloom, allow the bloom to expire and then cut them about half way on the stem, to promote bushy plants. For the new ones, I may cut them earlier than that to get them to grow out instead of blooming.

    Outdoor growing of zinnias is awesome, because it's so little effort for great plants.

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi Telescody,

    Those zinnias look great. I am impressed that their seed leaves, the "cotyledons", are still on and green looking. If a zinnia runs a little short on any nutrients, it "steals" what it needs from the cotyledons, and they shrivel. Even with all of my fancy nutrients, I have frequently lost the cotyledons by first bloom. So, kudos to your gardening skills, and your use of HID lights. I am impressed. I might try some HID this coming Winter, but for the time being you are ahead of me in indoor gardening. Your growing techniques are master-gardener class. Great photographic techniques, too.

    "I'm still going with my original plan, to start them in trays until they have some real leaves, then poke them in the ground on a calm and warm evening."

    I'm going to copy you on that. I think we have had our last freeze, and probably our last frost as well, but the soil temperature is still pretty cool. None of my in-ground plantings are up yet, except for those in my low tunnels, and they are not as far along as I had hoped. I do have some choice seeds that deserve special attention, and I will be starting them inside for the next few days.

    "I really like the speed of zinnias, how they grow so fast and recover so fast, how they bloom early and so on."

    Amen to that. The speed of zinnias is one of my favorite things about them. That, and their uncanny ability to surprise me.

    "I'm still thinking of a pruning scheme that fits my style, and for now I think I will grow these zinnias to first bloom, allow the bloom to expire and then cut them about half way on the stem, to promote bushy plants."

    I think that is a good strategy to start with. If the first bloom is really interesting, I designate the plant as a breeder and start using its pollen to cross-pollinate other breeders, and to self it as well. If the first bloom is disappointing, I cull the plant to make more growing room for its neighbors. If it is not too close to its neighbors, I pull the plant up by its roots, shake the soil off, and put the plant in the trash. If it is so close to its neighbors that pulling the plant up might damage their root systems, I use a hand pruner to snip the culled plant off at the soil line and let its root system eventually become part of the soil.

    "For the new ones, I may cut them earlier than that to get them to grow out instead of blooming."

    To broaden my gene pool, I am planting quite a few Burpeeana Giants this year, and for seed packet zinnias I frequently just pinch the bud out at about the stage your pictured buds are in. I try not to get any leaves when I do that, but I usually get a few anyway, because they are so close to the bud. I try to keep as many main stem nodes as possible, to maximize the number of lateral branches.

    "Outdoor growing of zinnias is awesome, because it's so little effort for great plants."

    I am in total agreement. I am really looking forward to my outdoor zinnia experience this year. More later.

    ZM

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi everyone,

    Since this message thread has gone beyond 100 messages and is a bit unwieldy, we are continuing this message thread over on It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 25. See you all over there.

    ZM

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