When parent plants carefully selected for their desirable traits are bred together, they produce hybrid seeds. These seeds are called hybrid or F1 hybrid seeds. Breeding plants together to produce hybrid seeds sounds simple, but it is a long process. Selecting plants to breed together over and over again to end up with the perfect hybrid plant can take years. And, each time the plants are bred, or cross-pollinated, it is done by hand. This means that every new hybrid on the market costs a seed company a lot of time and money. But, seed companies and consumers alike often say it is worth it.
When selecting seeds for your garden this spring, here are the pros and cons of choosing to grow hybrid seeds. These lists should help you decide if purchasing and growing hybrid seeds is worth it to you.
Pros of Hybrid Seeds:
- More, larger, stronger plants that look more alike
- Better, more consistent performance.
- Earlier and increased yields.
- Less affected by environmental stress, insect pests and plant diseases.
These pros are known as hybrid vigor. Some argue this vigor reduces the desire to use pesticides and fertilizers in the garden and landscape. While the pros of hybrid seeds are many, there are also a few cons to consider.
Cons of Hybrid Seeds:
- Takes a lot of time and money to create.
- Can cost more to buy than other seeds.
- Seeds from hybrid plants cannot be saved.
- Some say the produce from hybrid plants is not as tasty.
The firsts two cons, time and money, can potentially be offset by the better performance. The con of taste is a matter of taste. While some do prefer the taste of heirloom varieties, others do not. The con of seed saving only matters to those who want to save seeds from this year’s garden to plant and grow next year.
If you save seeds from hybrid plants and plant them, they will not grow up like their parents. Instead, they will show an unpredictable mix of characteristics from their grandparents. Because of this, if you select hybrid seeds, you have to buy them again year after year. In contrast, if you select and then save heirloom seeds, you only have to purchase seeds once.
To learn more about seeds of all types, seek out seed companies and sign up to receive catalogs from them. Many will send you a seed catalog every year at no cost.