A hybrid plant is one that has been cross pollinated by two or more plants of the same species. This is usually done to combine specific advantageous characteristics and traits of each parent plant. For example, many commercial varieties of plants are bred to combine long shelf life with uniform size. Others are bred for taste and yields.
Hybrid plants occur naturally in nature and result from pollinators moving between two plants of the same family (ex. cherry tomato with grape tomato). Hybrids can also be developed by scientists using carefully controlled trials and lab tests to bring out the desired characteristics. Certain types of plants cross more easily than others. For example, tomatoes, basil, and squash cross pollinate easily and so commercial growers tend to space plant species far apart to avoid cross pollination when developing hybrids.
Did you know you can grow seedless watermelon from seeds? This is just one example of a hybrid plant.
Hybrid plants are different from genetically modified plants in that hybrid plants will normally cross breed if placed close enough together in nature, while genetically modified plants are created by coming genes from two species that would normally not be able to breed. An example of this is inserting a fish gene into a tomato plant.