Plant Breeding for the Fun of It

April 15, 2016
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This season try your hand at a little amateur plant breeding. Select plants that closely resemble the results you’re trying to achieve.  Select one plant to provide the pollen, the male parent, and another to receive the pollen and eventually develop the seeds, the female parent.

Start the process before the flowers even open. Carefully remove the pin-like pollen producing stamens from the female parent with tweezers. Tie the flowers shut or cover both the male and female parents to prevent unwanted pollination and contamination by insects. Use tweezers, a cotton swab or child’s paintbrush to transfer the pollen from the male parent to the female. Brush the pollen on the tip of the vase-like female reproductive structure known as the stigma.

Cover the flower immediately after pollination. Label and wait for seeds to form. The results will be evident once new plants are started from these seeds.

A bit more information:  Experimentation, including plant breeding involves fun and sometimes disappointing results. But that is part of the learning process. For more details on the process see the University of Illinois’ Plant Breeding as a Hobby.

For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com

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