What Is a Hybrid Seed or Plant?

What Is a Hybrid Seed or Plant? image by Microsoft Office clip art , DRW & Associates Inc
What Is a Hybrid Seed or Plant? image by Microsoft Office clip art , DRW & Associates Inc


When hybridization of a plant is successful, the child is an improvement over the parents. Scientists may use the pollen of one type of corn to fertilize the eggs of another to produce better taste or a higher yield. If they are mating two lilacs, the child may be a different color or smell sweeter.

Hybrid children may be different from each parent--and from their siblings.

Plant Reproduction

Every plant has a set of chromosomes that it shares when the pollen of one plant fertilizes the egg of another. If the parents are different, the child will be a hybrid that is different from both parents.

The dark pollen on this lily may end up on any flower in the garden.

Natural Mutation

Plants change naturally from generation to generation; bees do not check chromosomes before transferring pollen.

A daylily may be a diploid or teraploid (three sets of chromosomes).


Most hybrids contain two different sets of chromosomes (diploid); when parents with more than two sets of chromosomes form an offspring (polypoidy), the hybrid may reproduce copies of parent or grandparent plants rather than itself.

Plants must be the same species have similar requirements to form successful hybrids.

Geography and Species

Climate zones and plant species often limit natural mutation and determine the success or failure of artificial hybridization.

What Is a Hybrid Seed or Plant?

Crossing Strains

Humans have cross-bred similar plants for centuries in attempts to improve them---usually by cross-pollination, but also by grafting.

This citrosa may be a hybrid of lemongrass and chrysanthemum and must be propagated by cuttings.

Sterile Hybrids

Polyploid hybrids are often sterile and must be propagated by division, and developers often treat hybrid seeds with chemicals to control propagation.

Who Can Help

  • The Science of Hybrids
  • Hybrid Varieties and Saving Seed
  • Hybridizing Daylilies

About this Author

Laura Reynolds began writing professionally in 1974. She has worked as a nonfiction author and editor, and as a newspaper editor. Reynolds has been appointed and elected to local offices as well. She has a Bachelor of Science in education from Northern Illinois University.

Photo by: Microsoft Office clip art , DRW & Associates Inc