Hybrid Varieties More Vigorous and Uniform

In selecting plants and seeds, you often find the word “hybrid” as a descriptive term. Some organic gardeners shy away from hybrid varieties because they have read somewhere that they are “unnatural”. Hybridization is actually a process which occurs all the time in nature. Pollen is carried by wind or insects from one plant to pollinate an unrelated one. Having a large gene pool of variable plants is an advantage in nature, because it enhances the adaptability of plants to a changing environment (like global warming). It is only in the last 85 years or so that man has learned to control the crossing process.

Most fruit and ornamental plants are actually hybrids. Some are chance crosses in nature selected by man for superior qualities or intentionally developed by controlled pollination. Hybrid plants normally grown from seed, such as most annual flowers and vegetables, have had parents carefully selected for several generations and then test crossed to see which will produce the best offspring. The very best of hundreds of test crosses are named and introduced as F-l or first generation hybrids. Producers of hybrid varieties maintain control of parent varieties or use the plant patent process so they can profit from the development of superior new varieties. So don’t be afraid to take advantage of new hybrid varieties.



Allen Wilson

Allen has been writing about gardening for over 30 years. He is a retired professor of Horticulture.

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