F1 Plants and Seeds: What Are They and Should You Be Using Them? (2023)

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Ever heard the term "F1 plants" or "F1 seeds" and wondered what the heck? You'll hear this term a lot, but you might not know what it means. Or you may be confused about whether it's a good, bad, or neutral thing.

As you delve further into the world of gardening, you will come across the arguments for and against F1 plants and seeds.

So we explain what they are, when to use them, and why they're controversial with some gardeners.

What are F1 plants and seeds?

The term "F1" refers to a type of hybrid seed that results from the selective breeding of a plant. Two different parent plants are cross-pollinated. If you're working with genetics, the term "F1" is an abbreviation for Filial 1, which means "first children."

When two plants pollinate each other and create a new type of hybrid plant, the seeds of that plant are called F1. While cross-pollination occurs naturally, F1 seeds are produced in controlled situations.

Gardeners and scientists look for plants with ideal traits and pollinate them to create a lineage of plants with beneficial traits.

Producing healthy lines of F1 plants takes a lot of time. It involves using parent plants from the pure lines and can take up to 7-8 years to produce. It takes gardeners years to establish pure lines that allow them to cross-pollinate.

You can find F1 seeds in catalogues, where they are often among the most expensive on the market. Although they can cost more, these plants are bred to have the most desirable traits.

Some characteristics of F1 hybrids are:

  • High power
  • High yields
  • uniformity
  • early maturity
  • disease resistance
  • Good holding ability

Some people look down on these types of seeds because they are made "in a lab." But even if this is not the caseheirloomPlants, that doesn't make them inherently bad. They are still a viable option for all gardeners.

You will find gardeners who only use heirlooms, but it's up to you to decide.

(Video) F1 F2 F3 HYBRID SEEDS? | POLLINATION and SEED SAVING in Home Gardening

Examples of F1 hybrids

Let's learn a little more about these types of seeds to help you decide which ones are right for your garden.

You probably already know some F1 plants. Some of the most popular tomato plants sold in stores are hybrids.

F1 Plants and Seeds: What Are They and Should You Be Using Them? (1)

Here are some examples of F1 plants that you may already be familiar with.

  • ‘Burpee’s Big Boy’-Tomaten
  • "Celebrity" Tomatoes
  • ‚Early Girl‘-Tomaten
  • Super Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes.
  • „Sweet Success“-Gurken
  • Brokkoli „Premium Crop“.

Hybridization isn't always a bad thing

Some people hear the term hybrid and immediately think something crazy happened in the science lab to create these seeds. So they stay away from them out of concern; They don't want to feed their family anything below average.

I understand this concern!

However, hybridization is not a bad thing and can happen naturally in nature without our help. Last year I had no idea that planting two corn varieties together was a bad idea. I planted a popcorn seed and candy corn.

Well, they pollinated each other, and while my popcorn plants turned out great, the candy corn was inedible. It was too hard for candy corn and refuses to pop on the stove.

We know that hybridization began in the 19th century when Gregor Mendel crossed two different pea varieties and cross-pollinated them by hand. He worked on this project and created the very first F1 facilities.

The pros and cons of F1 plants

As mentioned earlier, F1 plants can be a bit controversial. Some people refuse to use hybrid seeds, but it's important to realize that there are pros and cons.

The professionals

Let's take a look at the positives to help you decide if these plants deserve a spot in your garden.

F1 Plants and Seeds: What Are They and Should You Be Using Them? (2)

1. Faster ripening rate

One of the reasons hybrid plants became so popular was that the number of grocery chains increased dramatically. Farmers had to grow more and more vegetables to keep customers happy. This meant runtimes had to be faster.

Not all F1 seeds mature faster, but they usually mature faster than old plants. This means F1 plants and seeds could be a better choice for your garden if you have a shorter growing season.

(Video) F1 seeds and why you should avoid them

2. Potentially higher yields

Remember when grocery stores were full, farmers had to grow more food? As a result, many of these plants also have higher yields than heirloom crops. If you have a smaller piece of land, planting these seeds could give you a larger yield on the same amount of land.

3. Fewer problems with pests

F1 plants tend to be stronger and have a higher survival rate than other plants. They usually have fewer pest problems, meaning you don't have to spend as much time controlling them.

The chances of using chemical pesticides are reduced, which is good for your garden and the environment overall.

4. Combines the best of both hybrid parents

One of the best parts of hybridization is that many of these plants are disease resistant. When these plants cross-pollinate, the parent plants are chosen for their qualities. Plants with strong properties, such as B. high yields, disease resistance, etc. are picked to cross them with each other to bring out their positive qualities.

Here is an example.

Let's say you have two different types of pea plants. One produces large quantities of pods, and the other never has any problems with pests and diseases. When you cross them together, the goal is to get a plant that produces high yields and is disease and pest resistant.

The disadvantages

They sound pretty good, but what are the downsides of F1 seeds?

1. Most plants are sterile

Most F1 plants are sterile and cannot propagate by typical methods. This is not true for all hybrid plants, but many of these plants cannot reproduce.

That means you won't be able to salvage seeds from these plants, which is a real disadvantage. I prefer to keep seeds of my strongest plants to create a set of seeds that will grow well in my garden. Using hybrid plants might mean you can't do this.

Not all plants are sterile, but if you find one that isn't, chances are the seeds aren't truly propagating. So if you're trying to save seeds from a delicious F1 tomato plant, next year's harvest may not be the same.

Some seed companies do this on purpose to prevent their hybrid plants from being stolen or replicated.

2. More expensive

F1 plants and seeds are often more expensive than other options because they cost more to produce. Heirloom seeds are often among the cheapest since they are saved directly from the same plant with no extra steps.

(Video) Heirlooms Vs Hybrids what's the difference? What are open pollinated, F1, non GMO?

For the hybrid seeds, hand pollination and all the work involved in cross-pollination results in more labor and laboratory costs.

F1 Plants and Seeds: What Are They and Should You Be Using Them? (3)

Since you often can't save the seeds and plant them next year, you can't save money by saving seeds either. That might be fine for someone with a small garden, but if you have a large garden with dozens or hundreds of plants, it's not always profitable to buy seeds every year.

3. Loss of taste

Many people find that growing hybrid plants leads to a loss of flavor. Flavor might be sacrificed in the search for consistency and the best producing plants.

You have to see what you think for yourself!

Which one is right for you?

You don't have to just pick heirloom or hybrid seeds. Much of my garden contains heirloom plants, but I throw in a few hybrid F1 plants and seeds for variety.

If you have a large garden it may not be practical to only use F1 plants, but if you want to try a few new hybrid plants a year, give them a go!

The bottom line is that you need to choose what works for you and suits your needs.

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