Some times when you see seeds for sale or for swap, they are labeled as F1 hybrids. But do you know what that means? If not, read on…
An F1 hybrid is a result of crossing two pure genetic lines of plants, to make one new genetic line. But that’s getting a bit ahead of ourselves…
Most seeds you buy are pure line seeds. That means that they will consistently produce the same plant. Producers may see an advantage in crossing two of these lines. The resulting plant is an F1 hybrid.
It then takes many years of consistent breeding to make sure you produce a pure line of plants with the genetic advantages that made you cross-pollinate two pure lines in the first place.
And that few years of breeding to make a consistent genetic line costs money, which is why F1 hybrids are sometimes a little bit more expensive.
But, seed collected from an F1 hybrid will not produce plants which are the same as those from which it is collected. That’s why it isn’t such a good idea to save seeds from supermarket varieties, although if you aren’t too bothered about the variety it can be a fun way to experiment in the garden. You can only obtain new pure lines by crossing those pure line varieties (for a few generations) – and only the original breeder has the necessary pure lines.
So it works both ways. The gardener gets better, though more expensive, varieties and the plant breeder gets a reasonable return on the investment of their time and skill.
And the next time you see F1 hybrid, you’ll know exactly what it means.