Have you ever seen two different flowers and wished there was one in a fusion of the two? Luckily for you, it’s actually possible – and it’s a lot easier to do than you might think. The process is called “cross-pollination,” and you don’t even need a lot of space to do it.
The world is currently home to over 400,000 flowering plants, and humans have had a huge impact on this development.
However, we have intentionally only been cross-pollinating for about 9,000 to 11,000 years.
The first English gardener to become 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 facilitate his studies of genetic inheritance in the 18th century.
Today, gardeners around the world are investing time in cross-pollination, creating new variations of extravagant flowers, bigger vegetables, and tougher plants.
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And what’s more – it doesn’t seem like too difficult a process to complete; you just need to time it right.
Tom Hilton, Director of Hydroponics Specialists at National Greenhouse, said: “Your own plant variations can be created in the smallest of spaces, and the main things you need are patience and good planting skills. ‘observation.
However, Mr. Hilton continues: “Mid-morning is the best time to start and pollinate.
“You will find that any morning dew should be gone and the temperature will have risen enough for the pollen to be effective.”
“Wet weather pollination should be avoided, as water can kill pollen.”
After nailing this part, you should be ready to crack with cross pollination, and here’s how.
How to Raise Your Own Flower Variation
The first step
Mr Hilton said: “Plant a bed of each of the two types of plants. For the plant you intend to pollinate, be sure to use flowers or buds that have developed color but have not yet opened.
Mr Hilton said: “Choose your buds and open them very carefully. You will then need to remove the anthers that contain the pollen.
“Using a delicate brush, you can apply dust pollen (the pollinator) to the stigma of the plant you wish to pollinate.
“If your pollinating plant is a member of the Daisy (Compositae) family – such as Dahlia, Chrysanthemum, Rudbeckia and Tagetes – they will have flowers made up of tiny florets that open from the edge towards the middle.
“These tiny florets will need to be pollinated for several days in a row when they start to open towards the center.”
Mr Hilton said: “By using your brush – or gently rubbing the two flowers together – you can start the pollination process.
“When the stigma is most receptive to pollen, you may see a shiny or sticky solution on the tip, or it may change shape or swell.”
Mr Hilton said: “As each flower is pollinated, cover it with a bag or put the whole plant in an insect proof cage to isolate it.”
Mr Hilton said: “Successful fertilization can be demonstrated in many ways. Some plants will begin to shed petals, or the stigma will shrivel and turn black on others.
“After a while, the ovule – where the seeds are formed – will start to swell and mature, and from there you can continue to pollinate the other flowers as they are ready.”