Risk and Reward of Seed Grown Plants

As I have said many times before, and I’m sure will say again many times in the future, I love growing plants from seed.  The reward is obvious.  The satisfaction you receive from growing a plant to blooming size from a tiny seed can’t be beat. It is extremely gratifying when that first flower opens on a plant you have nurtured.

Except when it isn’t. One of the risks that come from seed grown plants is that sexual reproduction has a certain degree of variability.

Obviously this is the case in humans. Maybe you got your mother’s cute button nose or your father’s blue eyes. Maybe you and your siblings look so alike you are mistaken for twins or maybe some of you look like one parent and some the other. Or maybe you are a blend of both parents or don’t look like any of your other relatives at all.

And when you are a plant maybe you end up with stupid white flowers instead of pretty lavender or mauve flowers.

Meet Abutilon X suntense, a cross between two Chilean Abutilons. Abutilon vitifolium with flowers that come in whites, mauves, or even bluish lavenders and Abutilon ochsenii which usually has flowers in a deeper lavender color.  Particularly neat because most of the species of Abutilon you see have flowers in bright yellows, oranges, and reds.

Of course I was hoping for a flower in a pretty lavender shade like the first Abutilon vitifolium I saw up at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden ten years ago.

Just look at it! Not only was the color spectacular but plant itself was about 15 feet tall and smothered in blooms.

But I get a dumb white flower.  The plant is still cute so I am not going to shovel prune it. It does go to show you that in some cases it pays to grow on a good sized batch of seedlings  and keep them in containers until they bloom and then pick the colors you like best.  Of course you can also buy a named cultivar.  They have already been selected for their color or some other interesting characteristic that differentiates them from their parent plants and then are asexually propagated. Clones of the parent plant so you are certain to get what you paid for.

But what is the fun of that?  Even though I took a gamble and lost there is also that chance that your seed grown plant will turn out to be exactly what you hoped for. Or maybe something even better!