Research in Penn State's Exacum breeding program has revealed genotypic variation for the development of zinc deficiency, which may indicate the presence of zinc efficiency factors. Through preliminary experiments, we have identified both genetic families and individual genotypes that can be classified as either zinc-efficient or zinc-inefficient. Chi-square contingency analyses indicate significant differences (P < 0.001) in segregation patterns for zinc deficiency among hybrid families. Segregation patterns within families ranged from 100% of the progeny developing zinc deficiency to 100% of the progeny remaining healthy. Two genotypes contrasting in zinc efficiency have been identified and used in experiments designed to investigate physiological factors related to zinc efficiency. The zinc-efficient genotype has a significantly higher ability to decrease solution pH (P < 0.01), significantly higher root cation exchange capacity (P < 0.007), significantly lower root/shoot ratio (P < 0.001), significantly lower water loss/cm2 leaf (P < 0.03), and significantly higher fresh weight/dry weight ratio (P < 0.001). Research on zinc uptake rates is currently being conducted utilizing the efficient and inefficient genotypes. Based on all of our research, we conclude that 1) a strong genetic effect is involved in the zinc nutritional status of interspecific Exacum hybrids and 2) a number of physiological traits differ between zinc-efficient and zinc-inefficient genotypes.