How to create your own flower, all you need is ‘tiny space’ – cross-pollination guide

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Have you ever seen two different flowers and wished one existed in a merge of both? Luckily for you, this is actually possible – and it’s much more simple to do than you think. The process is referred to as ‘cross-pollination’, and you don’t even need a lot of space to do it.

The world currently houses over 400,000 flowering plants, and humans have had a vast impact on this development.

However, we’ve only been intentionally cross-pollinating for around 9,000 to 11,000 years.

The first English gardener said to have gotten involved in the practice was a man called Thomas Fairchild, who became the first person to scientifically produce a hybrid by crossing a Sweet William and a Carnation Pink.

Inspired by this practice, scientist Gregor Mendel used cross-pollination of plants to aid his studies into gene inheritance in the 18th century.

Now, gardeners across the globe invest time in cross-pollination, breeding new variations of extravagant flowers, bigger vegetables, and hardier plants.

And what’s more – it doesn’t appear to be too hard a process to carry out; you just need to time it right.

Tom Hilton, director of hydroponic specialists at National Greenhouse said: “Your own plant variations can be created in the tiniest of spaces, and the main things you need are patience and good observation skills.

However, Mr Hilton continues: “Mid-morning is the best time to get started and pollinate.

“You’ll find that any morning dew should have disappeared and that the temperature will have risen enough for the pollen to be effective.”

“Pollinating on a wet day should be avoided, as water can kill the pollen.”

It’s also important to note, that before you move on to start planting all and everything, the plants should be of the same classification.

Fiona Jenkins, gardening and plant expert at MyJobQuote told “The parent plants you select must be closely linked to breed and create a new hybrid plant successfully.

“They can be different species or varieties of the same species, but they should be in the same genus.”

A genus is a biological classification ranking between family and species, and the genus of the plant will be stated in the first part of its botanical name.

Ms Jenkins said: “The next step in parent plant selection is to choose the characteristic you want your hybrid seeds to have. For instance, if you want to create a variety with bigger flowers, both plants should have big flowers.”

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After nailing this part, you should be good to crack on with cross-pollination, and here’s how.

How to breed your own variation of flower

Step one

Mr Hilton said: “Plant a bed from each of the two plant types. For the plant you intend to pollinate, make sure you use flowers or buds that have developed colour but haven’t opened yet.

Step two

Mr Hilton said: “Choose your buds and very carefully open them up. You’ll then need to remove the anthers that contain the pollen.

“Using a delicate paintbrush, you can apply dust pollen (the pollinator) onto the stigma of the plant you wish to pollinate.

“If your plant to be pollinated is a member of the Daisy family (Compositae) – such as Dahlia, Chrysanthemum, Rudbeckia and Tagetes – they will have flowers made up of tiny florets that open from the edge to the middle.

“These tiny florets will need to be pollinated on consecutive days as they begin to open towards the centre.”

Step three

Mr Hilton said: “Using your paintbrush – or by gently rubbing the two flowers together – you can start the pollination process.

“When the stigma is at its most receptive to pollen, you may be able to see a shiny or sticky solution on the tip, or it may change shape or swell.”

Step four

Mr Hilton said: “As each flower is pollinated, cover it with a bag or place the whole plant in an insect-proof cage to isolate it.”

Step five

Mr Hilton said: “A successful fertilisation can be shown in a number of ways. Some plants will start to lose petals, or the stigma will shrivel and turn black on others.

“After a period of time, the ovule – where the seeds form – will start to swell and ripen, and from there, you can continue pollinating the other flowers as they become ready.”

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