What is a double flower?

woman with a flower

A double flower is a plant in which there are extra petals that give the flowers a full or double appearance. Enjoyed since ancient times, the double flowers are somewhat difficult to grow as many are sterile and must be regenerated from cuttings rather than simple propagation. Genetic studies have shown that a double flower is the result of a specific genetic mutation, which is rarely found in nature.

Certain types of flowers are more likely to double bloom than others. Roses, camellias, peonies, and carnations often have double flowers. To determine if a flower is a double bloom rather than just a bunch of petals, look carefully at the structure of a flower’s petals; if it appears to have a fully structured flower within another fully structured flower, it is probably a double flower.

Most modern hybrid roses are likely to display a double flower, due to genetic manipulation through breeding. Old World roses often have a single layer of petals and are quite delicate in nature, while modern tea varieties often have layer upon layer of petals, giving a full and profuse bloom. When looking for roses, look in the scientific name for the term full bloom, usually abbreviated as Fl. please, to indicate that the rose has a double flower. The term comes from the Latin words for “full bloom” and plants with the term can produce at least a few double flowers.

The rare occurrence and breeding problems associated with double flowers have been a mystery for thousands of years. Only with the development of genetic science did an explanation for multi-petaled flowers come to life. According to a genetic study conducted at the University of California, San Diego, a double flower is the result of three mutated genes in a flowering plant. When this mutation occurs, instead of producing the male and female sex organ layers of most flowers, the plant continually produces asexual petals called sepals. The lack of sexual organs caused by the mutation answers the age-old question of why it is so difficult to create double flowers.

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Double-bloomed flowers are prized for their full, healthy appearance, and can be found in many different flower varieties. Garden catalogs, nurseries, and garden supply stores are good places to look for double-blooming flowers for the garden. Some gardeners recommend avoiding planting double flowers in particularly cold regions, as it is believed that this can hinder the production of double flowers.

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