Bulbs Flower Basics Flower Beds & Specialty Gardens Flower Garden Garden Furniture Garden Gnomes Garden Seeds Garden Sheds Garden Statues Garden Tools & Supplies Gardening Basics Green & Organic Groundcovers & Vines Growing Annuals Growing Basil Growing Beans Growing Berries Growing Blueberries Growing Cactus Growing Corn Growing Cotton Growing Edibles Growing Flowers Growing Garlic Growing Grapes Growing Grass Growing Herbs Growing Jasmine Growing Mint Growing Mushrooms Orchids Growing Peanuts Growing Perennials Growing Plants Growing Rosemary Growing Roses Growing Strawberries Growing Sunflowers Growing Thyme Growing Tomatoes Growing Tulips Growing Vegetables Herb Basics Herb Garden Indoor Growing Landscaping Basics Landscaping Patios Landscaping Plants Landscaping Shrubs Landscaping Trees Landscaping Walks & Pathways Lawn Basics Lawn Maintenance Lawn Mowers Lawn Ornaments Lawn Planting Lawn Tools Outdoor Growing Overall Landscape Planning Pests, Weeds & Problems Plant Basics Rock Garden Rose Garden Shrubs Soil Specialty Gardens Trees Vegetable Garden Yard Maintenance

Get Mileage Out of Your Hybrid ... Plants

How to Start Lemon Seeds Indoors - watch on youtube
Get Mileage Out of Your Hybrid ... Plants

Get Mileage Out of Your Hybrid ... Plants. All-natural crops are fine, but botanists have tried for centuries to make them even better through the art of hybridization. This combination of the best traits of two plants creates large crops of strong, pretty and even tasty species with a long bloom season. Poplar trees, ambrosia melons, early girl...

Hybrids exist partially because of diversity and the need for plants to adapt to almost any climate.
ó Gary Petterson, owner of Gardenerís World nursery and Gardenerís Eden Landscaping
All-natural crops are fine, but botanists have tried for centuries to make them even better through the art of hybridization. This combination of the best traits of two plants creates large crops of strong, pretty and even tasty species with a long bloom season. Poplar trees, ambrosia melons, early girl tomatoes and many roses are among the popular hybrids today.
New varieties are crafted and tested regularly, yet not all of them are immediately market worthy. Some, like the typical hybrid rose, can take as many as 10 years to develop. Others will lose distinctive characteristics from the original plant, and some are just plain disappointments. The coneflower, for example, had been a reliable perennial for decades. The hybrid versions released over the last decade display intolerance to heat, donít bloom or just disappear, according Lynn Hunt, blogger, horticultural judge and consulting rosarian emeritus for the American Rose Society.
Despite such failures, as of 2012, hybrids aren't going anywhere, and most experts recommend them for gardeners of all levels. The home gardener is likely to reap more of the benefits of hybrids than endure their shortcomings.
Hybrid 101
As the name suggests, hybrids come from specialized breeding of two species. The intent is to create an offspring that features desirable characteristics from its parents, says John "Jay" Harper, owner of Harperís Nursery and Landscape Co., Inc., in Mesa and Scottsdale, Arizona.
"Plants may be cross-pollinated or bred with another plant of the same species that is deemed more heat tolerant, has a different colored flower, better or more compact foliage. Ö Traits, so to speak, that might be considered superior or more marketable," Harper said.
Hybrids were once designed only for farmers who must rely on large, consistent crops from year to year. Hybrids and their seeds have become so popular and inexpensive at nurseries and home-improvement stores that most home gardeners plant and grow hybrid varieties without even realizing it. In fact, hybrids rank among the most popular garden-variety food and decorative plants due to their aesthetic appeal, easy maintenance and vigor in what would otherwise be considered adverse growing conditions.
"A lot of ornamental plants, like orchids or roses, are hybrids," said Gary Petterson, owner of Gardenerís World nursery and Gardenerís Eden Landscaping in Phoenix, Arizona. "Most bedding flowers in most nurseries are hybrids."
Popular Hybrids
Sturdiness, ease of maintenance and desirable characteristics have made these hybrids rise to the top of the plant popularity chain among home gardeners.
Rose -- Knock Out: Introduced in 2000, this variety produces several long-lasting flowers on a stem. The Knock Out enjoys a longer bloom season in warmer climates and can tolerate drought and dry climates better than its counterparts.
Eggplant -- Dusky: This classic has been on the market for decades and is a favorite among northern gardeners because of its reliability even in chillier climates.
Melon -- Burpee Hybrid: This extra-sweet cantaloupe with a nectar-like aroma has been a perennial favorite for 40 years, particularly by growers in short-season regions.
Tomato -- Burpeeís Big Boy, Celebrity and Early Girl: Among the most popular fixtures in the typical garden, these varieties have built a loyal following among seasoned and rookie gardeners alike due to their fuss-free maintenance and tolerance of most climates.
Petunia -- Wave: This annual blooms throughout the summer and requires little, if any, deadheading. Durable even in warm climates, they can be used for groundcover, plant beds or in containers.
Tree -- Hybrid Poplar: One of the fastest growing trees, this hybrid grows 8 to 10 feet per year. It is easy to grow, tolerates nearly every kind of soil, and thrives in virtually any growing condition or climate.
What to Expect
The perks of hybridization go hand in hand with the objectives of most recreational gardeners. They're perfect for someone who simply values organic produce or desires the pop of color offered by vibrant blossomed bushes around the porch.
Harper says many casual plant lovers don't even know hybrids make such a difference.
"A homeowner probably has no idea that the plant was ever hybridized, especially if the cultivar fits his or her particular needs, or they just like how it looks or performs," Harper said.
Increased tolerance of temperature or other outside conditions are other desirable bonuses of hybrids.
"They are bred to find new flowers with special qualities like fragrance, a new color or a new shape," Petterson said. "Breeding crop hybrids helps create pest resistance, longer storage, better taste in apples, strawberries and other foods."
Matt Kennedy, manager of weGrow, a hydroponic store in Phoenix, Arizona, says some hybrid colors or sizes are geared specifically toward home gardeners.
"When you grow hybrids, itís nice to get to experience all the different types of tastes, sizes and colors," he said.
What to Consider
The benefits are not without a few potential downsides.
While disease and pest resistance are taken into consideration when breeding certain hybrids, this isnít the case with all varieties. Kennedy advises doing some research on the type of plants you intend to grow before purchasing them or asking a professional at a local nursery for what factors to consider.
"Whenever you are breeding for certain traits, you could be losing others," he said. "Some local nurseries do the breeding themselves, so a lot of them are genetically stronger."
Harper says the home gardener may notice some other negatives in hybrids. Sometimes, hybridization results in diminishing a characteristic a particular plant is known for, such as the loss of fragrance in a rose.
"In other words, we sacrificed scent for a bigger or longer stemmed flower," Harper said. "A juicy tomato may not ship well, so it is hybridized to have a stronger or tougher skin so that it holds up better in shipping, but may be less juicy or flavorful."
If youíre unsure about which hybrids are best suited for you, take a cue from your natural surroundings. Most hybrid varieties will find the same success, if not more, than their nonhybrid, or open-pollinated, counterparts that are part of your landscape or popular at local nurseries and gardens.
While generally heartier, hybrids have similar water, soil and light requirements as nonhybrids. They tend to be a bit more forgiving of less than ideal earth or sporadic watering.
If you want to be more adventurous and try a species that is less common in your geographic region, hybrids give you the opportunity to indulge that curiosity.
"Hybrids exist partially because of diversity and the need for plants to adapt to almost any climate," Petterson said. "You need only to look to the countryside and see which native plants grow there. Anything else you see is usually a hybrid that has been bred to survive in a nonindigenous environment."
Photo Credit Andy Sotiriou/Photodisc/Getty Images

Check out these related posts