What are Hybrid Plants? An Overview of Most Popular Breeds
If you’re new to gardening or if you’re an experienced gardener, you’ve probably heard about hybrid plants and may have questions about them.
Keep reading to learn about hybrid plants from The Spruce, how plants are hybridized, the different types and much more; are you ready to learn?
What Are Hybrid Plants?
A hybrid plant is the result of cross pollinating two different plant varieties and growing the seed the mix produces. The plant that grows from that seed combination is called a hybrid. Commercial cross planting is done to get some type of valued attribute of each initial variety into the offspring. Hybrids might be developed for disease resistance, size of plant, flower, or fruit, increased flowering, color, taste or any reason a plant might be considered special. Today, many modern plants sold are hybrids.
How are Plants Hybridized?
For the initial crossing, pollen from one plant is transferred to the flower of another variety. Before doing so, the breeder must decide which plant they want to use as the female (the pistil) and which they want to take pollen from (the stamen, male parts).
The pistil is then pollinated manually, with the pollen. To prevent the plants from self-pollinating, all the stamens must be removed from the plants that are going to be pollinated. The fruits that form because of this cross pollination are harvested and the seeds are kept.
Finding the preferred result can take years of testing. First time hybrid plants are grown the following year and the plants they produce are checked out. If they meet expectations, the cross will be repeated and the seeds will be distributed the following year. If the results aren’t quite right, the breeder must try again. The breeder who first creates a hybrid owns the rights to it, which is why they can be more expensive than non-hybrids, or open pollinated, plants. Breeders guard the parentage of their hybrids closely.
What Happens When You Plant Seeds from Hybrid Plants?
Remember, because hybrids are a cross between varieties, the seed produced by hybrids will not grow true to seed. Seeds grown from a hybrid could exhibit traits of one or both parent plants or be something totally surprising. Other times, the seed is sterile and does not grow at all.
Are Hybrid Plants Unnatural?
Most hybrid plants are manmade crosses, but hybridization is possible in nature. Two plants close to each other of different species can be cross pollinated by insects or the wind and the resulting seed simply falls on the soil and grows into a hybrid. Few of the flowers and vegetables we grow today are in their original wild form.
6 Popular Hybrid Plants
Now that you know a little more about hybrid plants, let’s look at some of the most popular and successful crosses.
- Hybrid Lilies
- Sweet Corn
- Stargazer Lilies
- Meyer Lemon Trees
- Argemone Mexicana
Hybrid plants are the new normal when done by a breeder, but they can be created organically in nature. Were you surprised by any of the popular hybrid plants listed above? Did you know some of them were even hybrids? Check out our other blog posts for more information on gardening, and visit our locations page to find a store near you!
About SummerWinds Nursery: SummerWinds Garden Centers is a leading high-end retailer of garden and nursery products. Headquartered in Boise, Idaho, SummerWinds operates retail nurseries in the greater Phoenix, Arizona area, and in Silicon Valley, California, making it one of the largest independent retail nursery companies in the west. SummerWinds appeals to both the serious and casual gardeners, with a broad selection of premium gardening products and a friendly and knowledgeable staff. www.summerwindsnursery.com.