Tulip breeding cross-fertilizing over distance and blocks -- how much room to leave


It was suspected that tulips can cross-fertilize even if they aren’t next to each other, and even if there’s a row of compost between them. (How much space do I need for a rather obsessively accurate lab?)

Has this been explored further? From the description of the experiment, the new colours might have been recessive colours being uncovered rather than contamination.


I personally haven’t explored it yet.


I think you’re correct Cricket. I do not believe that tulips above or below another tulip can affect cross-pollination. The question I was attempting to answer was if you had three tulips in a row, and you harvest the middle one, will cross-pollination affect the other two?

If I understood milla’s response correctly, the other two tulips WOULD be affected by cross-pollination, so long as all three tulips had been in bloom simultaneously.

Does that answer your question?


So 1 will affect 3, but not 4, and a single spot with no tulip will insulate?


Mo no. 2 will affect both 1 and 3 (if they’ve all bloomed at the same time), regardless of when they are harvested. 1 will not affect 3 as they weren’t planted side by side.


@cricketB and @Joe Would you like to conduct this experiment to confirm these findings at some convenient time? Please PM me and I will advise where this could be carried out. Thanks.


Wish I could come and see.


Thanks for the offer. I might try it in SP. Vacation ends soon, so it’s not a good time to join a multi-player. Also, no guarantees when or if I’ll even do it. If I do, I’ll share the results, maybe even with pictures!

Brain dump and thinking out loud here. Definitely needs improvement. (I’m open to suggestions. Worst I’ll do is ignore or ask more questions. I like well-designed experiments that give accurate answers quickly.)

Am I right that red is the best colour for the contaminant? If a white base is used, and any red at all reaches the plant, it will show. (Conversely, if a red base is used, it’s possible for the other colour to be recessive and not show for several generations.) If it isn’t, we need to add several generations, to test the seeds from each experiment.

Are bulbs from the wild (SP world) pure, or might they be hiding a recessive?

Is there already have an efficient process for getting recessives to show?

(So many ideas and questions whirling about in my brain right now. How to organize the lab and my notes. How to get recessives to show.)

Possible Plan for Side-By-Side test.

Be pessimistic about the vertical contamination, for this test.

  1. Mass produce many pure white and a few pure red. Ensure no colours hiding in the DNA.

  2. Plant R W W W W , all at one time. (How many repeats? I’m thinking 4-10.)

  3. Harvest. Plant the seeds in the same order.

Observe: Assuming that red will show up if any exists, the “contamination field” is the flower that shows any red at all, that’s farthest from the original red. If that’s not a safe assumption, then uncover them.

Vertical Test:

Again with white and red. Bottom row is red. Next few rows are white. Start with no space between rows, just compost, visible part of plant, compost, visible part of plant. Also try with red in the top row, just in case gravity affects things. (How much complexity did Dave put into this?)

If no contamination, experiment is complete and greenhouses can be smaller. If 1 row of compost not enough insulation, is 1 extra space enough, or does it need blocks?


Edit: More questions: Which of the 103 bulbs in my chest are white and red? Do I have enough compost to plant all of them? Why am I not cleaning the kitchen after supper?

Edit: Did I really ask a question about the camera that I could answer for myself in five minutes? Now answered. Camera made and test picture found. Great feature of the program!

Edit: Result of first experiment (to determine if lights or fires or marble back wall or no back wall makes a difference): Tulips beside fires do not burn during a short test. They do, however, burn nicely once the experiment starts going. (Lost the last 30 harvested, probably from sky islands. :cry: )


Am I jaded in thinking that it is not as complex as this?

If you are planting seeds (because bulbs will yield the exact same species)… then the change in color could just be attributed to the randomized chance of getting a hybrid or mutation. Unless you are able to reliably replicate the same hybrid/or mutation using the exact same process multiple times… I still believe it to be a random process.

Though it will be interesting to be proven wrong. Would be nice to have dependable formulas… though, I’ve not yet happened upon any (and I have done pretty extensive tulip farming myself).


Yeah, I tend to over-complicate things, then, often enough, un-complicate them again.

I suspect the person who thought his (her?) tulips were being affected by plants above and/or below was actually seeing recessive traits being uncovered, but it raised a good question. If I don’t want my new plants to be affected by those around them, how much space do I need to leave? That’s my next experiment.