selecting stock for best flowers on the farm
Let's talk about stock! Without getting too science-y, we are going to talk about single/double blooms in stock flowers today! In a nutshell, double blooms are fluffier, fuller, more showy, with more petals filling out the stem. You can see an example here (photo from Johnny's Seeds):
As you can guess, the doubles are more popular when it comes to selling blooms due to their fullness. However, not all stock plants are double--in fact, even seeds that have a "high" percentage of doubles in the mix are only about 55% double. However, there are some new blends on the market called "high double" that are reported to have about 90% double blooms--a huge improvement!
As flower farmers, we want to try to select the ones that are most likely to be double, which have a higher value. How do we do this?
Select a seed with a high percentage of double blooms
Some new varieties offer up to 90% double blooms, such as Johnny's "Katz Hi Double White". Sow them 2 per cell, and sow more cells than you will need (about 40-50% more to account for the singles you want to eliminate).
After seeds reach the cotyledon stage, put them somewhere cool for 3-4 days
Once the first small leaves appear, we put ours in the cold side of our greenhouse, which is about 40 degrees F. After a couple of days the more obvious differences between the singles and doubles appear.
Eliminate any seedlings that have fused leaves. At the farm, we like to use a pair of angled nail clippers to thin our seedlings, so we can be super accurate and not accidentally cut the wrong one!
Eliminate any seedlings that have deformed or misshapen leaves.
Select the seedlings that are a lighter green color, versus a darker green. You can see the difference in colors in the two seedlings below. The lighter green is more likely to develop into a double bloom.
When you're done, you will be left with mostly double blooms! It's a little time consuming, so your best bet is to select a blend that already has a high percentage of double blooms. Enjoy your stock! They are one of our favorites--a vase life of nearly two weeks, a bright fresh scent, and lovely variety of shades.