A. Just my luck. When I
needed a picture of a male flower flanked by two females I found I
didn't have a plant in the greenhouse so this one is one from the
seedlings in the garden. I would only cross named plants in the
greenhouse and this picture is for illustration purposes only. The male
is the large bud in the centre and the females are either side and may
be recognized by the ovaries or pods at the back of the petals.
B. This is a male flower showing typical stamens with polyps
carrying pollen. This is one of the cuttings in three inch pots in the
greenhouse that I took earlier in the year.
C. I use a fine hair paintbrush to transfer the pollen from the
male to the female stigma. This is another outdoor picture for
illustration purposes only.
D. Transferring the pollen onto the stigma of the
female flower. Yet another outdoor picture for illustration purposes
brush should be sterilized between crosses of different male varieties
and either of these liquids will do the trick. I use the one on the
left as the one on the right is far too expensive to use for brush
cleaning. Besides, I wouldn't drink the one on the left!!
F. Back in the greenhouse now and a selection of
females that have been pollinated. Note the different coloured wool
attached to the neck of each separate female. This is how I record my
crosses for future reference. One colour equals one cross so the two
white strands indicate I have crossed each of these females with pollen
from the same male variety. As both are obviously on the same stem they
will be the same female variety but it is quite possible to use a
different male to pollinate either female whilst on the same stem, but
remember you will need to sterilize the brush before you use another
male variety and a different colour wool to denote the separate cross.
The two females with petals still attached were later crosses and the
petals will fall in due course.
G. As I take my crosses I record them on a piece of scrap paper as
shown. This stays in the greenhouse until I've finished taking my
crosses then it's taken indoors where it is kept for reference. Once I
have cleaned and packaged all of the seed I then transfer the
information into my "Crosses Book" where I can make notes of the crosses
worth for future use. I should inform you that the pollen parent is
mentioned first in all of my crosses but "officially" the female should
be shown first. I was unaware of this fact when I began my crossing
career so my book started off wrong and has been so ever since.
H. As can be seen this seed pod is beginning to ripen and a close
watch will be needed now as it dries out.
I. This one is now
ready for removal from the plant. Note how the ovaries are beginning to
crack at the top. I will remove this pod and place it in a container to
take indoors to finish drying out. The coloured wool will be kept with
it in the container so I know what the cross is.
J. Another one ready to be put into its own container. I take great
care here as I don't want to shake out any seed as I remove the pod from
K. Indoors now and waiting until the pod is really dry before
tipping out the seed ready for cleaning before storage. I usually end up
with a few separate pods ready at the same time and when I'm in the mood
I set to and begin the annual seed cleaning ritual.
L. To start with I get an A.4 sheet of white paper and cut it in
half width ways. I then fold one piece in half and the other in quarters
M. Next I assemble my
tools which consist of the cross's list, a pen, a cellophane envelope, a
strip of white sticky back label, my magnifying glasses and the seed
N. I then tip out the seed and the chaff from the pod onto the
quartered piece of paper. A word of warning here. Exhale gently near the
seed and whatever you do DON'T SNEEZE over it as you will never find it
O. This is all that came out of the pod. Note the big bits
which are pieces of the pod and will be removed by hand as I begin
sifting the seed from the chaff.
P. The idea here is to tilt and very gently tap the edge of the
paper with the seed/chaff mixture over the halved piece of paper and the
seed will roll off the paper onto the piece below. Constantly turning
and tapping the quartered paper will allow the seed to come to the edge
of the chaff where it will easily roll down the paper onto the piece
Q. When I have a good
portion of seed collected on the bottom piece of paper I check it with
my magnifying glasses and remove any "rubbish" that has fallen onto the
paper before tipping the seed into the cellophane envelope. I continue
this until I'm sure that there is no seed left amongst the chaff on the
quartered piece of paper.
R. Once I have collected all of the seed in the envelope I write the
cross information on the white strip of sticky back paper and attach it
so as to seal the end of the envelope. You can just make out the seed in
the bottom left hand corner of the envelope as a dark patch. The next
thing I do now is make sure each piece of paper is wiped clean before
starting to clean the next seed pod so no missed seed from the paper is
carried into the next cross.
S. When I've finished all of the cleaning and packaging I then
enter everything into my "Crosses Book". I have found I sometimes get no
seed from one or more of my crosses so I wait until I've sorted
everything before actually entering it in the book. All of the packets
are then pegged together and placed in the salad compartment of the
fridge ready for sowing in February next year. I've used this cross as
the illustration as "Can Can" is the pollen parent of "Whispers" and it
will be interesting to see if anything special appears in the seedlings.
T. The first page in my "Crosses Book". Note the "Note" on the left.
I now only grow "Fred Martin" from amongst the list and I no longer list
the Colour Code. I've just noticed the spelling mistake after 20 years!
this page is a broad overview of how I go about crossing my plants with
the aim, and hope, of raising a new variety worthy of naming. There are
many other aspects of Hybridizing that I have not mentioned here and I
would be pleased to offer further information on request.
BEGONIAS MY HOBBY by DAVE STAINES