Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hibiscus from seed

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis developing seed pods
Patience is needed for growing anything from seed and when it is a possible new flower colour and variety from a bit of human intervention cross pollination, there is no guarantee of success. So this is my first attempt at plant breeding and I have to wait at least two years before any resulting plant grown from this seed may flower. First I have to wait until the seed ripens inside the capsule before sowing it and that probably won't be till summer. 
Hybridising Hibiscus follows the typical stages applied to other flowers such as roses, and that is taking pollen from one flower (father) and applying it by hand or brush directly to the sticky stigma pads of another flower (mother). After the petals fall and the flower withers, the fertilized ovary enlarges forming a pod or capsule containing seeds. This pod takes from 40 to 90 days to ripen, turning from green to brown in the process. Before the brown pod opens to revel the seeds it needs to be netted so the seeds are not lost on the ground. Seed sowing in spring or in warmer weather is the best option for success, though it is also recommended that the seed coat be "nicked" or scarified to aid germination.
Optimistically it may be at least ten years before I can say I grew that variety of Hibiscus.

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