Breeding white flowers

Discussion in 'Plants: Science and Cultivation' started by Susan M, Feb 15, 2014.

  1. Susan M

    Susan M New Member

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    After many years of experimenting, breeders have successfully created black tulips, roses, petunias, pansies and other black flowers. I am not a scientist or master gardener and don't know if these are called cultivars or hybrids. Could someone please tell me what white flowers have been deliberately created and any history or stories of how, when or where this was achieved would be appreciated (or where to find more information). Thank you.
     
  2. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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  3. Susan M

    Susan M New Member

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    Thank you Daniel, I will order it.
     
  4. Susan M

    Susan M New Member

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    The Book of White Flowers mentions that over the years gardeners and plant hunters sought out and prized white 'sports'. However, it does not mention attempts to deliberately breed white flowers and since it was published 25 years ago, almost certainly there must now be examples of specific flowers that were bred to be white, as were the black tulip, rose and other black flowers. Does anyone know of any such white flowers?
    Thank you. Susan M
     
  5. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Marigolds come to mind. Seems like they have been trying to come up with one of those since I was a kid. They are very close, but even the whitest ones still look a little yellow to me. I don't know anything about this. I imagine breeders look for the palest flowers and keep selecting looking for white. While not flowers, I think they have been looking for white tomatoes as well.
     
  6. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    One systematic (though time-intensive) approach to this may be to use the Royal Horticultural Society's Plant Finder and search for terms often associated with white cultivars, e.g., "snow" (or "moon" or "white" or "alba"). That would generate a list of genera with cultivars that have the word "Snow" in the name -- any that you recognize as being typically a different colour would then need additional investigation as to whether it was a selection process or a breeding process.
     
  7. Lysichiton

    Lysichiton Active Member

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    I suspect that the collector and social status instincts that have driven the breeding and discovery efforts for many "rare" and "exotic" plants may have concentrated on the "black" flowers because they are quite uncommon, certainly in the Northern Temperate flora. White flowers are commonly seen among both the wildflowers and old garden plants so there has been less effort applied to their breeding. Just a thought.

    BTW, white marigolds seem like a daft idea to me. I'll keep admiring the self-seeding pot marigolds with their luminous orange flowers and light-green leaves that pop-up in the corners of my yard. MariGOLD...doesn't the name say it all?
     
  8. Susan M

    Susan M New Member

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    Agree with you and the quest to breed a white marigold was to satisfy gardeners constant desire for something different.
    You might like this piece I found on the net:

    "Burpee put forth a challenge to gardeners to find a completely white marigold, lacking any trace of yellow. The competition was announced in 1954, with a prize of $10,000.
    For many years, no one was able to breed a truly snow white marigold. Hopeful contestants offered ivory and cream-colored flowers but nothing that fully met the criteria. Burpee introduced a few of these in the 1960s: ‘Man in the Moon’ (which became ‘Man on the Moon’ after we landed on the moon in 1969), ‘Nearly White’, and ‘Alaska’.
    In 1975, Alice Vonk, a widow in Iowa, surprised everyone by producing the first pure white marigold, and received the grand prize for her ‘Snowball’. She took it all in stride; according to her, she had just been dabbling in her garden to pass the time."
     
  9. Lysichiton

    Lysichiton Active Member

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    I do love it. Thank you. People, and gardeners in particular, never cease to amaze me with the strange and sometimes wonderful things they do. Fortunately I have a family who delight in pointing out some of the strange things I do, which keeps me somewhat in check!
     
  10. Susan M

    Susan M New Member

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    To Eric La Fontaine. Thank you for suggesting marigolds and I hope you like the story about Burpee offering a prize for the first white marigold.
     

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