Hand-pollination

Tim Eck teck11@embarqmail.com
Sat, 28 Oct 2017 12:15:48 PDT
Jane,
What I know of pollen receptiveness is mostly limited to chestnuts and
hippeastrum.  I suppose you are more interested in hippeastrum.

Hippeastrum styles start out straight and stigmas compact.  When they are
receptive, the style curves upward and the stigma trifurcates - more in some
species than in others.  This sort of maturation is common with many other
amaryllids too.  Pollen will not adhere well to immature stigmas,so you can
play around a few days after the flower matures to get an idea how your
plants mature. Typically, the pollen matures up to a week before the stigma
of the same blossom, so you may want to save pollen.  
I store the whole anthers in glassine envelopes and you can store all your
envelopes in one small ziplock together with a silica gel dessicant pack in
the fridge or freezer for years.  You can harvest anthers before they open
(dehisce) as long as you store them with dessicant.  When you come back the
next day, they will be about a tenth the volume and fully open.  That way,
you can use your fingers to harvest instead of tweezers or a comb and you
won't lose any pollen.
When you want to use it, remove the pollen from refrigeration ahead of time
so it can come to room temp before opening the plastic bag.  This prevents
moisture condensation on the pollen packs, which is the enemy.
I use a 'camel hair' brush for pollination.  Most other artists brushes will
not attract pollen.  Composition is important - in the world of itty-bitty
things, electrostatic forces are king.  That is how pollen adheres to bees
and other insects and wind pollinated plants repel their own pollen while
their stigmas attract the pollen.  This is most likely true to some extent
with insect pollinated plants too. 
Good Luck
Tim


> -----Original Message-----
> From: pbs [mailto:pbs-bounces@lists.pacificbulbsociety.net] On Behalf Of
> Jane McGary
> Sent: Friday, October 27, 2017 2:29 PM
> To: Pacific Bulb Society
> Subject: [pbs] Hand-pollination
> 
> I'd like some expert guidance on hand-pollinating various genera of
> geophytes. I never used to worry about it because I grew my bulb
collection in
> a rural area in frames, open in mild weather, and bees and other
pollinators
> such as hummingbirds found them readily. Now I live in an insect-poor
> suburb, where the only early pollinators are a few bumblebees, and they
can't
> seem to get through the wire mesh sides of the bulb house (they could if
they
> would land and crawl through, but they just fly at it and bounce off). I
rarely
> get seed on early species now, notably crocus and fritillaria, although I
have
> attempted to hand-pollinate them.
> 
> How does one tell when the flower's reproductive parts are mature? I can
tell
> when the pollen is dehiscing, but I don't know when the stigma is
receptive. In
> many plants, the two processes occur at different times to avoid self-
> pollination. Is there some visual cue to this?
> 
> Thanks,
> 
> Jane McGary, Portland, Oregon, USA
> 
> 
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