Charles Darwin promoted the concept of cross-breeding, but Gregor Mendel is credited with starting the hybrid plant revolution with his genetic studies of peas in the early 1900s. Hybridization took off from there as horticulturists realized they could cross-breed plants within the same species but from different varieties, to attain specific desired physical results inherent in the parent plants. Today’s gardeners have thousands of hybridized plants to choose from that feature traits like disease resistance, larger fruits and prolific growth habits.
1. Hybrid Lilies
Hybrid lilies are classified as Asiatic hybrids and Oriental hybrids. Oriental hybrid lilies have large 6 to 8 inch, fragrant, pink, red, purple or white flowers. The flowers of the Asiatic hybrids are smaller and usually have no fragrance. The flowers come in bright shades of yellow, gold, rose, pink, white and orange. The Asiatic lilies naturally flower from late spring to early summer while the Oriental lilies naturally bloom during late summer. Hybrid lilies can easily be grown as potted plants when grown in the right medium with proper light and watering. Lilies are likely to develop leaf scorch from the fluoride found in most growing mediums. Hence, care should be taken that the medium does not contain superphosphate or perlite. The soil pH for Asiatic hybrids should be 6.5 and between 6.5 to 6.8 for the Oriental hybrids.
2. Sweet Corn
The vast majority of U.S. corn grown are hybrid varieties. The characteristics of these varieties have made it easier for home gardeners to grow and they are sweeter than past crops. Grow sweet corn in larger gardens in rows for successful pollination and subsequent ear development. Plant the seeds in deep, rich, well-drained soil and in an area that receives full sun. Sow the seeds about two weeks after the last frost occurs. Harvest the ears only during the short milk stage, when punctured kernels emit juices that are milky in color.
Olympia is a hybrid of spinach, which is preferred due to its superior growth. The leaves are dark green and thick and the growth is upright. Olympia is a highly recommended variety for spring, summer, fall and overwintering. The hybrid spinach is highly resistant to bolting under high summer temperatures and long days. Olympia spinach is ready to harvest in about 48 days. The spinach can be sowed as soon as the soil is at about 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the seeds start germinating in one to two weeks.
4. Stargazer Lilies
These oriental hybrids feature vibrant blooms that measure up to 8 inches in diameter, are very fragrant and come in red, purple, pink and white hues. They grow vigorously throughout the summer and bloom in late summer. Plants are often marketed in the spring and can easily be grown as potted plants. Grow in USDA hardiness zones 4-8. Plant bulbs in the fall or spring at three times the depth of their length. Water regularly as the plant starts to grow and deadhead spent flowers to direct energy back to the bulb for next season’s growth.
5. Meyer Lemon Trees
Meyer lemons, originating in China, are a cross between a true lemon tree and mandarin orange tree. The fruit is much sweeter than traditional lemons, which makes this variety a favorite of gardeners and chefs alike. Meyer lemon trees can be grown outside in climates warmer than zone 8, or can be grown in pots that are brought indoors during cooler months. Buy trees that are 2 to 3 years old. Plant them in soil that is sandy, well-draining and slightly acidic. Keep the soil consistently moist but not too soggy.
6. Early Sungrow
Early sunglow is a hybrid of sweet corn and is considered to be one of the best varieties of sweet corn for the home garden. The hybrid corn surpasses its non-hybrid parents in sweetness, tenderness and flavor. Early glow is ready to harvest in about 63 days and is very good for eating fresh, freezing and canning. Plant the corn in full sun in late spring after all danger of frost and cold weather is past. The seeds germinate in seven to 10 days. During germination, take care to keep the soil moist.
7. Better Boy Tomatoes
Better Boys have been bred to be resistant to verticillium wilt, fusarium wilt and nematodes, which are all common tomato plant problems. Gardeners and tomato lovers favor the large, bright red fruit, which can weigh up to 1 lb. and mature within 75 days of seedlings being transplanted into the ground. Plant transplants in full sun and where the soil level is just below the first set of leaves, because roots will develop along that part of the stem. Place stakes or cages around plants to provide support as the heavy fruit matures. Water the plants consistently, particularly as they are flowering and bearing fruit.
The rabbage (or Brassicoraphanus) is a crossed cabbage and radish, and was developed successfully to self-propagate by a Soviet agronomist named Georgi Dmitrievich Karpechenko in the 1910s and ’20s. It has fallen out of fashion, though, because the hybrid wasn’t quite as well-integrated as consumers would like.
Pomato is a hybrid variety of potato and tomato. It is a small tomato-like fruit, with white flesh, edible either raw or cooked. Pomato plant produces tomatoes on the top and potatoes underground.
10. Argemone mexicana
It’s a species of poppy found in Mexico and now widely planted in many parts of the world. An extremely hardy pioneer plant, it is tolerant of drought and poor soil, often being the only cover on new road cuttings or verges. It has bright yellow latex, and though poisonous to grazing animals, is rarely eaten, but has been used medicinally by many people including those in its native area, the Natives of the western US and parts of Mexico. Mexicana seeds contain 22–36% of a pale yellow non-edible oil, called argemone oil or katkar oil, which contains the toxic alkaloid sanguinarine and dihydrosanguinarine.It has been isolated from the whole plant of Argemone mexicana.
The seed pods secrete a pale yellow latex when cut open. This argemone resin contains berberine and protopine.