How do you get a new tulip variety?

Just imagine that a plant breeder has a tall yellow tulip. Everyone thinks that its color and shape are wonderful. The only problems are that its stem is not strong enough and the plant blooms too late in the spring. But the plant breeder also has a short white tulip. Its shape isn’t as pretty but it blooms earlier in the spring.

The plant breeder then crosses these two tulips. He puts a little pollen from one flower onto the pistil of the other flower.

He then collects seed from that plant. He plants this seed to produce flower bulbs. About five years later, these flower bulbs will bloom. This is when the plant breeder finally gets to see whether he will get what he wants: a tulip with the best characteristics of both the yellow and the white tulips. In this case, it would be a tulip that flowers early, is short and has beautifully shaped flowers.

As you can see, this is quite a long and complicated process. The plant breeder has to know exactly what he is doing and have a lot of patience, too. Otherwise, he wouldn’t get anywhere!

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