The only way to be sure that hybrid plants are propagated true to type is vegetatively, by cuttings, division etc. When you propagate them from seed it is unlikely that they will breed true. Some seed strains of plants are carefully monitored so they are more or less true to type but if you take seeds from a cultivar and sow them you never know quite what you will get. That is half the fun. Take a seed from a ‘Bramley’ apple and the tree that grows will not have ‘Bramley’ apples on it.
Several years ago I sowed seeds that were taken from dahlia ‘Twyning’s After Eight’. This has white, single flowers and dark foliage. I bought them as Ex ‘Twyning’s After Eight’ which showed clearly that they were not actually ‘Twyning’s After Eight’. But it was worth a try to see what would happen. As it happened none of the seedlings grew into plants that could be mistaken for ‘Twyning’s After Eight’. Most had yellow flowers. I saved the seeds from one of these. Of course, I put them somewhere safe and lost them until this spring. When most of the important plants had been sown I had room to sow the seeds, rather later than I would like.
The parent looked like this. It had dark, but not intensely dark, foliage.
I planted out the seedlings, in a new bed made possible once the greenhouse and trellis had been put up. And now, most, but not all, have started to bloom.
The results have been very interesting and show what a mixed parentage ‘Twyning’s After Eight’ must have had.
So far, about half the seedlings are pink. Some are compact and about 60cm high while others are twice that. A few have really dark leaves, A few, with red stems and green leaves, have furry stems. All are single. One has definitely nodding flowers and a few are distinctly campanulate, which is not great. I now have to decide which are worth keeping. None are perfect but a few are pretty. I am just surprised by the variation in the flowers. So this post is just to show what sort of surprises you can get when you sow seeds.
My apologies for the pics – it was a dull day by the time I had done the mowing.