nasturtium seeds in hand

What is an F1 Seed?

Buying quality seed assures gardeners that their flowers and vegetables will get off to a flying start. Some packets, however, are labelled as F1 hybrid, a term that sounds quite baffling. In fact, F1 hybrid can be at the top of your shopping list because these are seeds that boast superior performance. In short, you’re buying premium seeds that guarantee great results. Breeders have worked their magic with F1 hybrids.


To create an F1, they take two different plants that both have sought-after characteristics and ‘cross’ them, to combine the best features of both. Further breeding work is carried out to ensure that the resulting plants are stable and true to type. The specialist nature of F1 hybrids means that they cost a little more than standard seeds, but they come with the promise of outstanding garden performance.


orange flowers close up


What are the benefits of F1 seed?


F1 hybrid seeds offer a multitude of benefits. It goes without saying that seed will have an excellent germination rate, but that’s just the start. Seeds labelled as F1 hybrid will produce uniform plants, so you won’t have to worry about some getting off to a flying start while weaker seedlings struggle, lagging behind the rest of the batch. That’s important if you’re a fan of traditional summer bedding displays, with uniform plants bursting into bloom at the same time and flowering profusely.


F1 hybrids pack a punch when it comes to vigour, too. Improved vigour means more flowers – often bigger or better blooms – or superior yields when growing edibles from F1 hybrid seed. If you only have a small veg plot, hybrid seed holds the key to enjoying the biggest harvests in tiny spaces.


An abundance of F1 seed is available for gardeners who grow their own produce. You’ll find popular selections of tomato such as ‘Celano’, ‘Sungold’ and ‘Orange Paruche’ available as F1 seed, along with many different veg plot staples such as broad bean, carrot, sweet corn, courgette, pumpkin, pepper, cabbage, Brussels sprout, aubergine and cauliflower.


Gardeners in the UK are accustomed to our unpredictable climate, but that’s where F1 hybrids provide another advantage, as their built-in vigour creates robust plants that are more likely to thrive in less than favourable growing conditions. They’re ideal if the great British summer is a washout, or if you live in a cooler region of the UK where the growing season is shorter than average.


You’ll find plenty of your favourites offered as F1 hybrid seeds in the Unwins range, including courgettes, sunflowers, carrots, geraniums and aubergines.


Are F1 hybrid seeds worth the extra cost?


Many years of specialist breeding work goes into producing, testing and maintaining lines of hybrid seed before it’s ready for sale to gardeners, so this investment by breeders is reflected in the cost. As with any premium product, you’ll pay a little bit more, but when you consider that a packet of F1 hybrid seed will usually set you back just a few pounds, growing plants from the highest grade of seed still represents exceptional value for money. Add on the fact that you’ll benefit from superior flowers and bumper crops of vegetables, and the tiny additional cost of a packet of F1 hybrid seed makes it an even more worthwhile investment.


Frequently Asked Questions


Can I save seed from plants that were raised from F1 hybrids? Unfortunately, seed from F1 hybrids will not produce plants that are true to type, so it’s best to just enjoy the flowers and veg during the growing season.


Why aren’t all kinds of flowers and vegetables available as F1 seed? Highly skilled plant breeding work that’s required to produce F1 hybrids is time-consuming and expensive, so suppliers have to be confident that they’ll sell high volumes of seeds for the variety to be viable. For this reason, F1 hybrid seed is often restricted to selections that are in high demand, or where vigour and uniformity are essential characteristics.


Do F1 hybrid seeds need special conditions to germinate? No – hybrid seed can be sown and grown on in exactly the same manner as any type of seed. Even though these seeds offer excellent performance, sowing seed in quality growing media is essential for good germination and giving seedlings the best start in life.


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