Starting the Dahlia Season forum: Crossing different dahlias forms together

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Pline
Jun 12, 2020 11:27 AM CST
Hi,
I've read that if you cross different dahlia forms, like a water lily with a ball, you'll end up with an ugly flower that doesn't have the best characteristics of either type.

But what if you cross different but similar forms, like a straight cactus with an incurved cactus, or a semi-cactus with a cactus? I'd like to get twisty wiggly spidery petals and I'm thinking that combining cactus types might get me there.

What do you think?
Imageteddahlia
Jun 12, 2020 12:29 PM CST
Name: Ted
Oregon
We enjoy breeding new dahlias!
I've read that if you cross different dahlia forms, like a water lily with a ball, you'll end up with an ugly flower that doesn't have the best characteristics of either type.

Yes, that is mostly true but since dahlias are octaploid there can be hidden genes for the correct traits in a flower of a totally different type. There are 8 genes for each trait and only one or two express themselves.The rest of them are inactive but may be the ones needed for the other type of flower. and may get passed on to the seedling. No one counts on this as breeders increase the odds of getting good flowers and crossing like to like gives you the best odds and those odds are bad enough.

There are so many traits that need to be good besides just form, that breeding dahlias is very difficult. For example, open centers is a common fault. You must have good form and a closed center. You must have good stems so you need good form, closed centers and good stems. You need a nice color so add that to the list. The list of traits that must be good is very long and the odds that a flower will have even most of them is pretty slim. So why would you cross different forms knowing that nearly all of the resulting flowers would be bad?
“Flowers are like friends; They bring color to your world.” – Unknown
[Last edited Jun 12, 2020 12:55 PM CST]
Quote | Post #1348717 (2)
Imageteddahlia
Jun 12, 2020 1:25 PM CST
Name: Ted
Oregon
We enjoy breeding new dahlias!
What types of forms can be crossed to get good seedlings? This is a morphological question. You need to examine the formation of dahlia florets to answer it. All cactus types have revolute florets and vary only in how much they roll. So all of the cactus types can be crossed with good results . Balls, MBs, poms roll the opposite way(involute) and should not be crossed with cactus types. Formal decorative flowers are supposed to have flat florets that do not roll but most of them are slightly involute. So they could be crossed with ball types in a pinch. Informal decorative flowers are not defined well by the ADS and who knows but people avoid them as they twist too much and twisting is a fault in all but informal dahlias. I know of nobody who actually tries to breed informal decorative flowers except for the giants.

It would take way too long to explain the difficulties of breeding waterlilies but suffice to say that they are extremely difficult to breed for a thousand reasons.
“Flowers are like friends; They bring color to your world.” – Unknown
[Last edited Jun 12, 2020 1:26 PM CST]
Quote | Post #1348721 (3)
Pline
Jun 12, 2020 2:15 PM CST
This is great info! I've been wondering about this for awhile and didn't know who to ask.
My garden is 90% cactus types, so it sounds like my odds of getting a good cross are better than they might otherwise be.
I bought a few water lilies thinking I might try breeding them, but your warning changed my mind. I'll just enjoy them.
You've saved me a lot of frustration!
Thanks
Imageteddahlia
Jun 12, 2020 2:44 PM CST
Name: Ted
Oregon
We enjoy breeding new dahlias!
We have been just talking about breeding the dahlia forms but the other things people want to do is breed the various dahlia colors and also breed the various dahlia sizes. .I was told by the owner of a large wholesale florist company that people like dahlias because of their color. He ought to know as they sell many, many thousands of all kinds of flowers every year. Color is probably more important than form in the cut flower world. You can have the best formed flower and no one wants to grow it because of the color. By the way, the color blue is not achievable by conventional genetics. The color green may be achieved somehow as they have green chrysanthemums. The brown dahlias have not been appearing in my seedling garden either. White dahlias are hard to breed. Purple dahlias are hard to breed. Red dahlias are hard to breed. Orange dahlias are hard to breed. I should replace the previous sentences with:"solid colors are hard to breed in dahlias as most of the seedlings are blends of different colors."
“Flowers are like friends; They bring color to your world.” – Unknown
ImageIslander
Jun 12, 2020 6:18 PM CST
Name: Noni Morrison
Vashon Island, Washington
growing and selling organic cutflow
Ted, a brown flower would not DARE show its face in your garden! I had a little seedling that I loved that was actually a copper brown mini. It never had a tight center and I Lost it over this winter and move I think (Unless it turns up somewhere....).It was fairly close to "Brown Sugar" a florist dahlia sold by Arrowhead Dahlias and others but it was even smaller...
ImageCosey
Jun 12, 2020 6:33 PM CST
Name: LeeAnn
Zone 6b, Pennsylvania
teddahlia wrote: White dahlias are hard to breed. Purple dahlias are hard to breed. Red dahlias are hard to breed. Orange dahlias are hard to breed. I should replace the previous sentences with:"solid colors are hard to breed in dahlias as most of the seedlings are blends of different colors."


I'm going to add any dahlia you hope for is hard to breed. 😂

I seem to only have one solid orange seedling each year. Which is surprising since the seeds are collected from a cut flower patch with hundreds of orange blooms. I may grow for a cut flower market but personally I love super bright blooms. Basically what the florists don't buy. Last year I had a Skipley Lois Jean seedling that was electric tomato orange. It was open centered and had a halo of short petals (but fantastic plant otherwise.) I kept one tuber for my kids butterfly garden. I can only hope to find another bloom in the same color family. Up until that seedling, I haven't seen that color shade before in a dahlia.

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