How to choose flower seeds and not become a victim of fraud?
“Well, it’s not terry grown up ... But in the picture they were so beautiful!” - the neighbor complains. “And my girlfriend, too, seemed to choose low flowers. I’ve raised it all winter, and it’s grown up so that it’s not a border, but a whole fence has turned out ... ”Unfortunately, such a sad experience can be found in the practice of every grower. Agricultural firms and seed companies are extremely interested in attracting customers at all costs. But "it’s not difficult to deceive me, I’m glad to deceive myself." How to choose flower seeds and not become victims of gimmicks and outright deceit by carelessness, naivety and lack of basic knowledge?
In this article, I would like to share with readers what tricks I had to observe when buying seeds, and how they repeatedly deceived me. And thereby warn gardeners from similar mistakes.
1. Translation difficulties
If you do not carry an encyclopedia of ornamental plants with you, colored packaging will tell you about the culture and characteristics of a variety or hybrid. On the reverse side, as a rule, the full name is written in Russian at the top of the bag, and in Latin below.
Most buyers leave “foreign” letters unattended, doing so completely in vain. Usually, even the most cunning manufacturers can find it difficult to dissemble “in Latin”. Although I do not exclude the option when the correct Latin name is spelled intentionally in order to avoid possible litigation.
So, one day I acquired seeds of decorative grapes. The colorful photo of the packaging depicted luxurious crimson three-lobed leaves. We read the label “Grapes for girls. Raspberry wine. " A little lower in Latin - "Parthenocissus quinquerfolia".
Sadly, plants like the one shown in the main picture never come out of these seeds. After all, the quinquerfolia girl’s grape - “five-leafed” - is a familiar aggressive vine with leaves cut into five parts, which can be easily found in abandoned areas. And this image is very far from the photo of the ivy-like girl’s grape presented on the packaging, which is called “Parthenocissus tricuspidata” in Latin.
I also often noticed a similar “sinner” in another large agricultural company, besides vegetables and flowers, including those selling coniferous seeds. Colorful pictures on the packages depict unusual varietal specimens of fir, cypress and other breeds. Whereas in reality there are seeds of the most common species specimens inside, whose appearance and size differ significantly from the plants shown in the picture.
Unfortunately, not every gardener can know that the variety conifers shown in the photo can be obtained exclusively from cuttings, and he will spend time growing the plant according to all the characteristics that are very far from what he saw on the bag and wanted to get.
But an unscrupulous producer, perhaps, does not consider himself a deceiver, because he honestly wrote that inside the seeds of Korean fir, well, and that the dwarf variety "Oberon" is placed on the photo, this, in his opinion, is nothing more than an ordinary advertising move .
Also among the tricks regarding the names, I often observe how the English name is put on the packaging already translated into Russian. This can probably be done without any cunning intent. But, perhaps, a similar translation is being made in the expectation that some gardeners may not be strong in foreign languages and will buy, say, Shock Wawe petunia and Shockwave petunia as different varieties.
But the most common deception are the frequent cases when agricultural firms “breed” a new variety, coming up with their own names for Western hybrids. For example, on sale you can find such interesting "varieties" of petunias as "Forest Nymph", "Elena the Beautiful", "Barbara Beauty", "Vasilisa the Wise" and so on. Experienced flower growers can easily be distinguished by photo - which Western hybrids got new names, while newcomers will really take the imagination of marketers for a real variety.
2. Terry – not terry
The problem of terry can be associated both with the dishonesty of seed producers, and with the characteristics of the plants themselves. Terry varieties are usually of hybrid origin (marking "F1"). Such cultivars in the first generation give 100% double flowers (petunia, snapdragon, begonia).
But there are exceptions. So, the left-wing percentage of terry flowers is very low. Terry plant seeds must be distinguished by a number of signs, which in practice is very difficult. Therefore, one should not expect a large number of terry specimens from left-wingers.
Remember that for those plants in which the inflorescence of the inflorescences is a varietal trait and is easily transmitted from generation to generation (for example, asters, marigolds, etc.), the cost of seeds can be low and the producer often generously puts a large amount of seeds in a bag.
But in annuals such as petunias, snapdragons, viola, etc., one hundred percent terry is found exclusively in first-generation hybrids (F1). Therefore, due to the complex hybridization process, such planting stock cannot be cheap. Not a single producer will fill such seeds with generous bulk and will not sell at a low price. Usually they are packed individually from 3 to 20 pieces.
Buy seeds from well-known agricultural companies, then the chance to get just terry plants, as in the picture, will be quite high. Decent growers may even indicate the percentage of terry that can be expected from a given variety.
3. Game of color
Thanks to modern graphic editors, unscrupulous companies can create the most incredible images on sachets with seeds. So, with a flick of the wrist, varieties of flowers of such exotic colors are launched for sale that are still not subject to even eminent breeders.
In terms of color manipulation, blue, red and salmon shades are especially popular. Before buying, it is better to once again look in the directory and clarify the main color scheme of a particular flower. It is much more correct to trust the verified information, not hoping that a long-awaited miracle happened in the selection.
I would especially like to emphasize that no matter how “Photoshop workers” work, blue petunias do not exist yet. All that can be obtained in reality is shades of purple, from saturated to pale lilac. Often, petunias can be called "blue" and because of the complexity of the translation, since in English blue and purple are denoted by the same word "Blue".
Also, the blue color of the flower seeds shown on the bags does not necessarily appear as a result of intentional manipulations. The fact is that purple is a very complex color scheme, and some gardeners may have noticed that in the photographs almost all purple petunias and some other flowers turn out to be surprisingly blue, which has nothing to do with reality.
Read more about what petunias are in the material How not to get confused in the varieties of petunias and choose the right one.
All sorts of tricks are found with shades of red. Often, in variegated colors of petunias, red areas in fact turn out to be crimson or burgundy (for example, the Kan-Kan Harlequin Burgundy petunia). Red annual lobelias have also not yet been bred, but raspberry colors are sometimes issued for them. Salmon petunias often turn out to be ordinary pink without the slightest orange tint.
Fortunately, today many flower growers share their experiences by posting photos of plants grown on the forums. Therefore, I prefer to check in advance the attracted variety in terms of color to avoid disappointment.
4. Big and small
High or low will grow your wards, if it is a variety, and not a hybrid, it is really difficult to predict 100%. Often, very blurry data “from 20 to 60 centimeters” are indicated on the bag. And the height of plants, in fact, directly depends on environmental factors.
Photophilous with a lack of lighting are stretched and exceed the expected size. Individual specimens may produce spontaneous deviations from the characteristics of the variety. There are a lot of reasons. If the small size of the plants is of fundamental importance to you, choose well-known hybrids of proven seed producers, because hybrid series are distinguished by the maximum evenness and uniformity of plants.
5. Ampel or cascade
Recently, among flower lovers, hanging baskets have become fashionable, which, in the absence of a summer cottage, can be hung even on a small balcony. Along with the new trend, there was an increased demand for plants with a falling bush form and new varieties of familiar annuals, presented as ampelous.
Most often, as an inhabitant of balcony flower pots, the most popular petunias are used among pilots. Choosing varieties for hanging baskets it is not always easy to find one that forms a gentle flowing train, completely covered with flowers. In particular, the designation of some hybrid series as “cascading” may be confusing.
In most cases, with the word "cascade" we imagine a waterfall with many rapids and intuitively believe that such petunias will certainly have to go down. However, the manufacturer probably implied a special nature of the growth of the bush, the shoots of which bloom at different levels, but the downward branching was not supposed.
Cascading petunias form branched erect bushes and never descend beyond the cache-pot.
But even with petunias marked as ampelous, not everything is always simple. Often plants do not fulfill the manufacturer’s promise to fall in a lush cascade, and their stems only hang slightly outside the basket. Therefore, before buying an attracted variety, it is better to read reviews about this variety in floriculture forums. From my experience, I can note truly ampelous hybrid lines of petunias with long hanging lashes: Opera Supreme, Shock Wave, Tidal Wave, Diamond, Wave.
Among annual plants there are such popular flowers, whose ampelous character is not in doubt. For example, purslane, ampel lobelia and others. But such novelties as ampelous viola, snapdragon and verbena - these, in my opinion, are still not quite classic ampels, as the florist wants to see them, but only a few hanging bushes. So that they fall as far as possible outside the containers, it is better to plant them at the very edge.
With unknown types of flowers, you should be especially careful and double-check the information indicated by the manufacturer on the seed packaging. In particular, I once had a curiosity. Being an inexperienced gardener, many years ago I acquired seeds of an unknown flower called a “bruise”, having bought promises on a bag that his lashes will go down beautifully.
As a result, powerful erect bushes, similar to a weed of the same name, were sticking out of balcony boxes all summer.
6. Where and from whom to buy
This advice may sound trite, but still it’s better to buy seeds only in proven places, the indicator of which, for example, can be the longest lines in the planting season. Of course, if the seller has not yet got a lot of customers, this does not always indicate poor quality of the goods.
But an unpleasant story happened to me once. It is now easy to find seeds in almost every supermarket, and there was a time when in our city they could be bought exclusively at the Central Market. Among the abundance of offers, several points stood out, near which people always crowded, I also knew other sellers by sight and sometimes made purchases from them. But once I noticed an unfamiliar grandmother with a stand of seeds of rare varieties and bought a couple of bags.
Arriving home, I reviewed the purchase, and too many seeds guarded me, instead of the declared 10 pieces. Opening the packaging, I found inside a regular confectionery poppy. I didn’t see my grandmother in the market anymore.
After the proliferation of the Internet, I prefer to shop at professional seed online stores. Using this method, there is no need to stand in lines and you can safely make a choice, literally without getting up from the couch. But it could not do without minuses, because to receive a letter you have to go to the post office, delivery can be expensive, the letter may be lost or delayed on the way. I must say that on such sites I have never encountered a reassortment, however, I have come across unspecified expired seeds several times.
7. Is it worth buying flowers at Aliexpress?
I would also like to dwell on the purchase of seeds on the popular Chinese site "Aliexpress". Of course, there you can find some nice interesting things. But in relation to plants, the situation is different. If you believe the colorful photographs of sellers, all the main miracles and achievements of world selection are concentrated there. But it is usually easy for an experienced gardener to recognize photo montage in many inviting images.
I can’t speak for all gardeners, but in my case all attempts to order plants failed. For example, instead of varietal mullein, I grew the most ordinary meadow. Instead of sweet potato seeds, which in any case should be quite large, small seeds of some weed, presumably shiritsa (wild amaranth), came from China.
Therefore, if you still order seeds for Aliexpress, it is better to find information in advance about what the seeds of a particular plant look like, in which case send them not to the garden, but to the bin. But still, for fans of surprises and experiments, this site is a real find.
8. A mixture of colors
Many ornamental plants are often sold in a mixture of colors. But practice shows that all types of stains presented on the packaging do not always grow from such seeds, even if all the seeds have sprouted.
Most often, seeds of different colors are packaged in a mixture far from equal proportions. I traced a similar pattern, in particular, on an average bell. Colorful photos on bags of various manufacturers are represented by bells of three colors: purple, white and pink.
As a result, the largest number of bells turned out to be the most common purple color, a little white and only a few plants blossomed pink flowers. In some mixtures, the promised pink was not at all. Therefore, if a particular color is important to you, the hopes of getting it from the mixture can not always be justified.
Often, to create more colorful photographs, some flowers of plants from a mixture of designers are painted in attractive nonexistent colors. Therefore, it is safer to buy each color of the flower, packaged separately, and make up the mixture yourself.
Unfortunately, to find the “same” variety among the abundance of alluring pictures on bags of seeds, the flower grower often only has to experimentally. Patience and good luck!