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Begonias - My Hobby
An Occasional Page by Dave Staines
 HYBRIDIZATION


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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 only.


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E. The 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.


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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 the stem.
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 as shown.


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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 pod.
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 again!!
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 below.


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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!

  By necessity 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
TITLE PAGE

INTRODUCTION          PREPARATIONS          SEED SOWING          PLANTING
PROPAGATING          CONSOLIDATING          SHOWTIME          AUTUMN         
...and Finally

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