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Arrowhead Alpines
Retail and Mail Order Plant Nursery
1310 North Gregory Road, P.O. Box 857, Fowlerville Michigan, 48836, Phone: 517-223-3581

Plant Breeding for Dumbies

Plant Breeding For Dumbies

Hey, wanna be a writer? Do yet another "Dummies" book. It’s sure to sell a zillion copies. Here's a summary of the book that will never be.

Step 1. Save seed from some good garden forms of the plant you want to breed. (Heuchera or Hosta or Hemerocallis are good choices.) Forget the new wild genetic material. That is for the advanced master gardener version, and besides it’s probably politically incorrect to use wild material. If you forget to save seed, order some from one of the seed exchanges. The donor probably saved it from good forms anyways. Forget that stuff about stamens and sex; it’s too much like work. 

Step 2. Sow the seed and name every conceivable minor variation that may occur, preferably with cutesy or ego boosting names. Avoid names that might be informative as to the nature of the cultivar. Trademark the cutesy names.

Step 3. Apply for a patent, but first change the cultivar name to something utterly un-saleable (‘Toadscat #5417’ or something similar will do). Don’t worry if they never grant the patent. Just use p.p.a.f. for the next 50 years. It’s cheaper to just apply anyway. Alternatively, pay up and collect your patent. They will grant them for anything nowadays. It doesn’t matter if it looks just like all the others or doesn’t differ from wild type, nor does it seem to mater if you put any effort into actually breeding it. (Producing a Meconopsis blue Trillium grandiflorum is a whole different deal and beyond the scope of this work).

Step 4. Market your plant extensively under one of your trademarked names (pick at random or use the same name for more than one plant. It saves on trademark costs.) Remember it doesn’t matter how ugly it is; with Photoshop anything is possible. (Complaints that it doesn’t look anything like the picture can be handled by telling the customer he needs to grow it for two years in full sun before the variegation will appear. Don’t laugh; this one has been used on us).

Step 5. If the above seems like too much work, just find some old cultivar and re-introduce it under a new trademarked name. That way you can collect royalties off someone else’s efforts. 


Arrowhead Alpines - Bob & Brigitta Stewart, Owners
PO Box 857 - 1310 N. Gregory Road - Fowlerville, MI 48836
Phone: 517-223-3581 - Fax: 517-223-8750