Saving pollen

J.E. Shields
Fri, 19 Jul 2002 15:42:42 PDT
There was a discussion in the Bulbs_Images list about saving pollen for 
later use.  this is well known to the daylily folks, who do it all the 
time.  It is used by Clivia breeders as well.  I have used it on Crinums 
myself, as well as on daylilies and clivias.

The pollen should be ripe and dry.  Some pollen, like daylily pollen, will 
ripen after the anther has been snipped off.  Others, like crinum, need to 
be allowed to complete ripening of the anthers ("anthesis") on the flower 
before the anther is collected.

I dry all pollen over "Drierite" (anhydrous calcium sulfate granules) with 
blue indicator before storage.  Once dried, the anthers can be stored in 
small ziptop plastic bags or in Eppendorf micro-centrifuge tubes.  If you 
store the pollen in gelatin capsules, the capsules will need to be stored 
in an air-tight container.

Place the pollen containers in the freezer.  How long pollen retains its 
viability in the freezer depends on how well it was dried before freezing 
and on the genus you are working with.

Thoroughly dried daylily pollen stays viable in the freezer for several 
years.  Hippeastrum pollen lasts for about 12 months in the 
freezer.  Hymenocallis pollen lasted only about 6 months for me (many years 
ago), so I will try that again for Hymenocallis.  Clivia breeders maintain 
that clivia pollen lasts at least several years in the freezer; they 
further note that ripe clivia pollen is already so dry that it needs no 
extra treatment before storage.  I have used frozen crinum pollen that was 
about 6 months old with success.

You only need to let the pollen (in its container) reach room temperature 
before using it.  An anther in a small (2 inch X 3 inch) plastic ziptop bag 
will equilibrate to ambient temperature in 5 minutes or less.  The contents 
of an Eppendorf tube may need 10 minutes to reach room temperature.

I use a small camels hair artists paint brush to apply the pollen.

Jim Shields
in central Indiana

Jim Shields             USDA Zone 5             Shields Gardens, Ltd.
P.O. Box 92              WWW:
Westfield, Indiana 46074, USA                   Tel. +1-317-896-3925

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