Here is What Happens When You Save Hybrid Seeds

| 2/29/2016 9:55:00 AM

Tags: seed saving, tomatoes, plant breeding, hybrid crops, garden planning, Don Abbott, Ohio,

I recently came across a “Seeds Explained” infographic stating, “Seeds from first-generation plants can’t be saved and planted”. That’s not exactly true. You can save and grow hybrids (a cross between two distinct varieties) into plants (for the most part). Sometimes the hybrid either creates sterile offspring or doesn’t produce seeds at all.

I’m sure you’ve seen seedless watermelons, cucumbers, or zucchini. They are hybrids crossed for this purpose. Some of these (like Burpee’s 'Sure Thing' Zucchini) don’t need pollination to produce fruit. Seedless vegetables mitigate “bees in the greenhouse” or “pollinator shortage” situations. Except for these examples, seeds produced by hybrids will produce viable plants. They just won’t be exactly like their parents.

Snarky Orange Cherry

'Snarky orange cherry' tomatoes

My Hybrid-Saving Journey

Back in 2012, I was not the savvy gardener I am now. Starting my own tomatoes seemed daunting and I instead purchased them from a reliable local greenhouse. As anyone who doesn’t have a garden plan, I bought whatever tickled my fancy. Of the starts I procured, six of them were 'SunGolds', an orange-yellow cherry tomato known for its sweet flavor.

For some reason I got confused, thought they were determinate (i.e. only grow so tall then stop), and thus didn’t give them any support. Needless to say, I had tomatoes sprawling all over my garden’s floor (“watch your step”). By the end of the season, I made the decision to start saving seeds, but knew better than saving 'SunGolds' because they were F1 (first generation) hybrids.

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