Herbs Not Coming True From Seed
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Margaret Martin
Posted on: January 17, 2006

I noticed in your catalog that you mention some herbs don’t come true to name from seed. For example, I’ve read that mint taken as cuttings (or as divisions) is usually superior in flavor to that grown from seed. A few people have also told me that oregano from seed is poorer than that attained from division. I want to start some herbs from seed this year, but I worry that some plants might prove untrue to name. Specifically, I was wondering if it’s worth trying to grow French thyme, basil, and santolina from seed. Should I just bite the bullet and order these as plants?

How variable the seedlings will be depends greatly on how diverse the genetic heritage of the parents was. This variation in a seed grown population is especially great if the parents were hybrids to start with. You can then get any combination of characters from the grandparents appearing in the seedlings. If however the parents are both from the same species and from a fairly uniform population of that species, then since there are very few really different genes in their make-up, the seedlings will be quite uniform too. The seeds you mentioned are usually quite uniform and the variation in the seedlings will be minimal. The only variety that possibly may be an exception is basil. There are a great number of very different strains of the one species and occasionally we have the bad luck to get a seed lot that had some busy bees make a mess of the hybridizers plans by pollinating one lot of parent plants with some of a different lot in another field and so cause a breakdown of the strain in the resulting seedlings.

PS - Is there a way for Richters to get the basic plant info listed in the InfoCentre onto the online catalog descriptions? I e-mailed Richters a question the other day asking about zone hardiness on Cretan oregano and later realized this info was available through the InfoCentre. If I hadn’t stumbled upon the InfoCentre while casually browsing the website I probably would have continued to e-mail Richters redundant questions looking for basic plant info. I love Richters. You guys rock! I just wonder if your website could be a bit more user-friendly.

The zone information is listed opposite the latin name of the plant in the paper catalogue that we mail out to all of our customers at the beginning of every year. So this problem only exists for the first time customer. On the web-site we have plans to include far more growing information than we have there at present -- which is why we have separated it from the on-line catalogue.

But a link to that part of the web-site from the on-line catalgue could be established in the future when we get enough time to add more information than is found in the paper catalogue to this part of the web-site.

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