Any "Hand Pollinators" out there?

Toston, MT(Zone 4a)

I've spoken to a couple people who hand pollinate their own flowers. I'd love to give this a try, and would like all the do's and don'ts before attempting it myself. I'm only going to do a few flowers to see if I have the knack this year. Mabe I'll attempt more next year.
I have a bogunvelia (sp) that I have already poked and prodded. :o) The flowers that I have done are twisting, so I'm assuming a miracle is taking place *I hope, I hope, I hope*

I'm already doing some hand pollination. I've several blooming flowers in my greenhouse that I am hand-pollinating (since I don't have any wind or bugs to do the job indoors).

I'm serious about maintaining purity in all my veggie seeds this year, and will be strictly following the guidelines set forth in the "Seed to Seed" book. For many of these plants, it will require hand-pollinating.

The best advice I can give you: get the Seed to Seed book (by Suzanne Ashworth). It is THE book for this kind of thing.


Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

I have tried it just to see if I could over the last few seasons and as everyone knows,honeybees have been in short supply in this neck of the woods lately too.

I have done watermelons with good success and squash too.

I'm like Dave in the fact that I'm working hard for genetic purity and the last 2 seasons have really been diligent at doing this.

Heidi,I'm not sure about your bouganvilla.The only experience that I've had with those is with cuttings.Keep us posted on the progress.

Toston, MT(Zone 4a)

Thanks Dave! I'll plan on getting that book.
I too want to keep my plants pure, (who would want a watersquash? :o)

Thanks Melody! We have plenty of honey bees around here, but I would like to try some of my own to try an get the best colors I can.
I'll keep you posted on the bouganvilla. (Thanks for the proper spelling). Do you have one?


I'm not sure Bougainvilleas produce viable seeds - I've tried to get them, but even the seed company in Australia said they didn't. Nor do Breadfruit (Artocarpus communis), but I'm still looking for them anyway.

I've just pollinated my Passiflora antioquiensis - a bit cold for insects. It was right at the apex of the roof in the conservatory, so I had to poke around carefully with a feather duster! It worked, though, as the fruit is growing fatter by the day.

I also ferried pollen of Hymenosporum flavum (Australian Native Frangipani) from one side of the conservatory to the other on a small paintbrush last year, and that worked and I got seeds.

Theoretically, all you have to do is make sure a bit of pollen sticks to the stigma. Some experts even send the anthers of valuable plants to one another by post!

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

I think Mary is right about the bougainvillea. I don't think you can get seeds from them.

I have a watermelon pink one and I've never seen any seed at all.
You may want to check out with the people in the propagation forum and see how they get the different colors.This is way out of my league when it comes to that sort of stuff.
Wouldn't mind having a crash course in the subject though.

Toston, MT(Zone 4a)

Mine is Watermelon Pink too. I'm dissapointed to hear that I won't be getting any seeds. I too wonder how they get the colors if not by seeds. I'll ask.

Thanks for the info Mary. Although swapping the anthers is interresting, it's a bit more extreme than I want to do.
I wonder how long pollen is viable?

Springfield, MA(Zone 6a)

last year i tickled my tomatoe plant buds. i read that this helped in the pollination process and would yield a higher volume of tomatoes. since it was my first ever veggie garden, and every bud i had was rewarded with a beautiful tomatoe. :-)

so once again this year, I will tickle my tomatoes. :-)

Richmond, KY(Zone 6b)


What do you mean by tickle them?

I usually shake the cages twice a day (once in the am and again in the pm) because I've been told it helps the pollen drop. Don't know if it really does any good, but it doesn't hurt.

Richmond Hill, GA(Zone 8b)

debi_z, I've heard of "tickling" tomatoes. LOL Many folks use something like a wooden stick or a dowel to gently tap the cluster of blossoms. Commercially they use vibrating machines to stimulate the tomatoes. Really! (Get your mind out of the gutter, Brook. LOL)

Richmond, KY(Zone 6b)


Wha'd I say? Wha'd I say?

Well, I am venturing into this 'land' for the first time this year! Seems I have HP'd my amaryllis, it is getting fatter by the day. And two of my gymnocalycium's are blooming at the same time, so have tried my luck there as well.

I need to find something of quite small caliber. My gastworthias are blooming as well as some of my haworthias and an aloe, but the tubular forms are so tight I can find nothing that fits that I feel confident is transferring anything of note. These are not 'named' ones and can't imagine what an intermingling would do besides tickle my fancy.

We'll see what comes of this.


Valinda, CA(Zone 10a)

I hand pollinate daylillies. Don't keep records, just make interesting crosses.

Have some really nice ones blooming. Two are miniature, the leaves and blossom stalks maybe 6 or 8 inches tall but with full size blossoms. Almost grotesque.

From the tall, scented yellow one I have children that are peach colored and scented.

A couple of clear pink.

What was recommended for me to HP my aloes is a cat whisker... since both my cats shed quite regularly will not have to chase the buggers down and do a dirty deed. Am getting ready for my next phase.

Do we report back here with results?



I hand pollinate just about anything I have 2 of in my yard for fun. I generally never cross the same species or hybrid to itself though. I prefer a bit of genetic diversity and vigor as they say. Pollen stays viable for different periods of time depending on the family, genus, species, etc. Often times one can collect pollen on a q-tip and freeze it for use later though to extend its shelf life. In that way, pollen that is only viable for 6 days outside can be made to be viable for a year or more. Of course many hybridizers open the flower prematurely to apply the pollen before the flower has opened. In this way they ensure that the pollen from the flower in question has not self pollinated and they can remove the unripe anthers. Pollinating a plant early like this can also get a jumpstart on seed production and as is the case with a few hybrids it is the only way to get seed to form on a consistant basis.
Please no more inbreed jed type plants. Inbreeding is for sick people, not our plants. Yes, I know lots of people like to inbreed, but how often do these plants inbreed in the wild. If the answer is always, then there is no question as to keeping genetic diversity and diversity would be something I would desire. If the answer is frequently or sometimes, what does it hurt to follow suit with nature and outbreed? Pretty, fragrant, etc, all traits I like and all traits one can get with minimal to no inbreeding. I don't advocate not inbreeding, but I do advocate only doing it when it is the only route or the quickest route. I don't want the same plant as everyone else, I want people to be dazzled and perplexed and say wow!!! What a wonderful plant, never seen one like that before....but that is me.
Hope this helps,
Just a Brugmansia lover that hybridizes everything under the sun for fun,

This message was edited Wednesday, Jun 20th 11:27 AM

Santa Barbara, CA

I never heard of bouganvillea setting seed either. In the nursery trade, plants are started from cuttings. New forms and colors are usually found as "sports" which are mutatated shoots differing from the mother plants. Find a good one, propagate it, patent it, and make some money licensing its propagation and sale to a major nursery.

Handpollinating is fun. Fun to control the crossing of two or more known parents and then select over several generations of growouts and recrossings to come up with your own special plant. Years ago I did that with petunias and sold ourright the rights to a plant company. Wish I just licensed the use!

Excuse me. What would be an "inbreed jed type plant"???

I am confused here.

Was wondering how folks kept their logs, which parent first, what denotes who you know the seed came from. Need an idea of a book, I guess, to explain all this. Hoping to be taking notes of plants I start from my own seed. Hope fully they will not be in anyway related to Jed...?

Cena, who has been hand pollinating her gymnocalciums, hoping for spectacular, not jed, results.


By inbred Jed, I mean to say that many hybridizers cross siblings to siblings and siblings back to parents to get recessive traits and if the plant is self fertile they cross it to itself to keep the line pure. If incest is best, then it is most surely best when dealing with heirloom type plants that one wants to keep pure so to speak. The reality of the matter is though that in nature planys often do cross pollinate--just not by someone who is selecting for a certrain desireable trait or traits. Inbred plants tend to be more disease prone and such and lack what is known as hybrid vigor. Hybrid vigor happens when you outcross plants and not when you inbreed them. Inbreeding makes weak, but beautiful and "pure" plants while outcrossing makes strong healthy plants. How much inbreeding and how much outbreeding is a constant struggle with some hybridizers and often times one inbreeds for such a long time over so many decades the plants can become prone to all manner of diseases, fungus, viruses, etc that it was not prone to before. The struggle for beauty or strength, inbreed or outbreed. Keeping the balance----Ahh, by the way-just picked off another batch of seed pods I hand pollinated off of my Hemerocallis...can't seem to keep my hands off of my flowers. Another ziplock bag for the fridge.
Hope this helps,

dobie, ON(Zone 3a)


I have cross pollinated lily's as they are one of my favorites. I now have some unusual colors. When I cross pollinate I take a flower that is just starting to open and put the pollen from an open flower (with a q-tip). Then I bag the flower so the bees can't add pollen from another flower and wait for the seeds. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. But we have nothing to lose by trying.
Good luck with it.

Toston, MT(Zone 4a)

Thanks Trailingon!!
I agree... We have nothing to lose and so much to gain.
Do you have an pictures of your lilies? I would love to see them! I only have the popular orange ones, but love all the varieties. One day I'd like to have more.

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