Introduction

Luther Burbank is a well-known plant breeder in the United States. He developed a nursery garden, green house, and experimental farms in Santa Rosa, California, influenced by Charles Darwin’s studies on domesticated plants, and achieved wonders. This article explains how Luther Burbank accomplished his dream of breeding and grafting fruit and vegetable varieties.

Great Gardener Or Magician?

What does the world title a man who changed the colour of a yellow flower to red, plum seeds to disappear, desert cactus to grow a thousand times quicker, blackberry to white, and 500 different kinds of cherry on a single tree? Was he a great gardener or a magician who performed tricks? His genius creations continue to have an impact on people’s daily lives all around the world. His most significant gift is a beautiful flower that did not even exist before him.

Luther was born on March 7, 1849. He was drawn to the natural world’s marvels and learnt how to produce a variety of crops. He chose to devote his life to growing new plant varieties, after reading Darwin’s book. He began market gardening when he was 21 years old. He had a lot of success selling high-quality vegetables. He started with 29 seeds from an early rose potato plant and has continued to produce exceptional quality till date. This potato is known as the “Idaho Potato” and it is farmed on hundreds of acres in the north- western parts of United States.

At the age of 26, he moved to California, since his native land was unsuitable for his career. On “Santa Rosa,” near San Francisco, he continued his experimental and creative work on plants for more than half a century. He referred to his new home as “The Chosen Spot” of the entire planet.

 His experiments used three fundamental techniques

  1. Gather many domestic plants and bring in different foreign varieties of plants; when cultivated under various conditions, they would prove robust and display many other desired modifications.
  2. He produced a wide variety of fruits, flowers, and vegetables by altering water, food, temperature, light levels. This was achieved by crossing plants with extremely different characteristics. 
  3.  He was able to identify and pick plants that had undergone favorable adaptations. He may potentially use them as subjects for future research. 

As a result, he was successful in producing a white blackberry, which he named the paradox. The pile of rejected seedlings was 12 feet high, 14 feet wide, and 22 feet long, with 65,000 berry plants within. There were less than two dozen of them that he opted to save for further research. 

He was able to grow 526 different varieties of apples on the same tree, which allowed him to save space while also speeding up his trials. Instead of 15 years, his tested plants only required 2-3 years to bear fruit.

He conducted over 10,000 independent trials with 600 different plant species. He created a better cherry, a thornless blackberry, a thornless cactus for cattle feed, and a peach tree that can withstand cold temperatures. He surprised flower enthusiasts with 73 new blooms, including the Shasta Daisy and a rose named after him.

Many of his attempts were unsuccessful. The tomato-potato cross was unsuccessful. But his passion was so powerful that nothing could possibly let him down. Miraculous discoveries were occurring in many fields, including steel mills, autos, and commerce and industrial marketplaces. Burbank’s finds are just as impressive as automobiles, bridges, tunnels, and singing wires.