Unique wallflower breeding programme produces breakthrough results for Tozer

A major breakthrough in the breeding of Tozer Seeds' F1 hybrid English Wallflowers series will see the company significantly expand its range and seek new agents for sales and marketing.

The company, which has become synonymous with vegetable seed, is ready to introduce up to five new colours to its Sunset series and is offering seed for trial to commercial growers, parks authorities and potential agents.

Tozer Seeds managing director Peter Dawson said: "We think it's very exciting. We have been working with wallflowers for a while now and we are reaching an interesting stage in the development of these hybrids. We hope to resurrect the use and growing of wallflowers by parks and gardens and by the home owner because they really do give a colourful display."

Director of plant breeding Frances Gawthrop has added a red, three shades of pink, a new orange and a darker purple to the colours already on offer - white, primrose, yellow, apricot, sunset orange and purple.

Existing colours have also been improved and Gawthrop now plans to experiment with more compact plants. "I wanted to develop the widest possible range of colours," she explained.

"We know there are going to be less growth regulators used so there could be demand for them. There is seed available now so we just want our clients to grow them and see what they would like and which ones work best."

According to Gawthrop, success in breeding the first pink wallflower capped what has been an exceptional year, with more pure lines introduced than ever before. All the varieties are scented and survived temperatures of -10 degsC this year.

They are bushy, perennial plants that flower from March to June, with an average height of 30-40 cm and flowers of approximately 2.5cm. The range has proved popular with parks managers and is currently planted in St James's Park.

Although Tozer is predominantly a vegetable seed company, the wallflowers are genetically similar to cabbages. The breeding programme was initiated 17 years ago, with the first seeds sold around the turn of the millennium.

Until recently all the seeds were sold through Ball Colegrave. But now it has developed seed production worldwide, Tozer is seeking new opportunities for the sale and marketing of the range.

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