It's winter, but we're welcoming a new abutilon season up here. This year -- spectacularly early, but it works for me. Here is what I have to say. Mind you, I keep thinking and reflecting upon my amateur abutilon breeding, and gradually come to realize things which might have been clearer from the start, should I be versed in genetics and biochemistry. But alas!
The first thing that bothers me is how to store seeds correctly over the winter months. Of course I could purchase a phyto-lamp to germinate seeds all year round, but I don't want to. If you're a plant grower, you know that it's a 24-7 job. So I use up winter months to get some rest, to take (at least partly) my mind off the malvaceae. Thus the question: how to store seeds so that they wouldn't lose their vitality? Last year, I kept well-dried abutilon seeds in my fridge in the vegetable department. When I sowed them in spring, sadly, only 3-5 out of many germinated. I blamed the refrigerator, but I might have been wrong. Let me tell you why.
This year, I kept the abutilon seeds in my double-glazing enclosed balcony with the temperature of +15+17C. After storing them this way, prior to sowing, I cut the teeny-tiny tips of each teeny-tiny seed off with manicure scissors. Tedious job! Exhausting! But I guess it worked, as many of the seeds germinated. Not all of them, though. In some pots only 1-3 seeds out of 10-15 started. In one pot there were (and still are) none alive. I wonder why. Is it due to the storage or the crossing was not that compatible so the embryos were not life-compatible? Was there anything that I could do to help them develop? I did soak all the seeds in a liquid stimulant.
Another thing on my mind is what kinds of abutilons are best for indoor growing in St.Petersburg, Russia (i.e. here where I live). We used to think that the Bella series were the best. Lately, however, many people started doubting it. You see, Bella hybrids are so much of a 'hybrid' that it's kind of difficult for them to survive the gloomy winter period here. Bellas are very sensitive -- to light, to temperature change, to everything. Lots of abutilon growers lose their Bellas over the winter, which is obviously sad.
Other, more recent abutilon hybrids, however, prove to be more vigilant and hardy. I'm talking about various pictum and megapotamicum abutilon hybrids. The most famous Russian fruit trees breeder Ivan Michurin (1855-1935) trained his hybrids in different conditions. He said that in tough conditions, plants resort to their natural, wild features to withstand the hardships. On the contrary, in good conditions, the plants demonstrate their cultured features (bigger flowers, better fruit). And here is my point: abutilons from the Bella series are genetically SO far from their natural, wild selves that when the conditions are unfavorable, these plants have no resorts and die, whereas pictums and megapotamicums are not so far genetically from their wild ancestors, so they have a lot of resources and survive Russian winters indoors easily. They clearly need much less light to bloom than Bellas because they are extensively budding now. This is my 'under-educated' guess.
To end this post, I want to answer your pending question: why am I posting photos of the same plant? Well, like I said, it's still winter here, so my abutilons are only starting to bloom. This one is the first of the 2016 season, and quite a nice one, too. So here are two last pictures, and let me wish you a productive breeding year to celebrate!