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Thread: Hand Pollination & Sterilization

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    Tropical Fish Enthusiast jimscott's Avatar
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    Hand Pollination & Sterilization

    I was asking a hobbyist about hand-pollinating pings and his answer surprised me a bit:

    As far as pollination goes, you need to sterilize tools so you do not spread viruses and bacteria as they can enter the seed capsule and damage or infect embryos as they develop. I use a paintbrush with fine soft bristles as it does not damage the plant in any way or the stigma. Sometimes toothpicks are a bit invasive and can damage the stigmatic surface of flowers so I do not use them because of that and also because it it is harder to get the same amount of pollen on the stigma with just a toothpick. Using a soft, small paintbrush will help collect more pollen and deposit more of it on the stigmatic surface and not damage the stigma in the process or the rest of the flower. I know I have said this on orchid discussions, but as I have read, all cells on all parts of a plant send hormones, chemical messages, water, vitamins, minerals, nutrients and other things to all cells and also get them from all cells. I just feel that by removing any part of a flower, you may unintentionally cause mutations or unwanted side effects or you may not have anything bad happen. I know that I may seem paranoid about it, but that is just me and I would rather not rip a flower apart just to pollinate it. I have pollinated paphiopedilum orchids and many other kinds of orchids without damaging the flowers and plan to do the same with any other carnivorous plants I have. That is just me though, and maybe nothing will happen by tearing a flower apart, I just would rather not do that. I also recommend sterilizing utensils and pollinating tools so you do not have active pollen on a brush and then use it on some kind of other flower and risk contamination. I also know some pings are sterile so you do not want to grab a brush and brush pollen from a ping 'aphrodite' onto a moranensis flower and have the pollen and flower go to waste. Like I said above, you also risk introducing bacteria and viruses into the actual capsule of the plant and damaging embryos or infecting them. I think using a paint brush is easiest and I will do a short video for you when I have another flower that blooms so I can show you how I pollinate the flower. I will let you know if I have anything that blooms again anytime soon. So far, most of the other pings I have are small but there might be a flower bud on this one larger moranensis I have. I also got seeds from my ping 'Sethos' but I fear the worst for them as they look small and dried out. I have not seen any pinguicula seeds before, but I have a feeling that seeds should be more robust and I just have this bad feeling that the seeds will not germinate and I will have wasted the plants energy trying to get pollination right.
    Whaddya think?

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    Zero's Avatar
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    Hi Jim,
    I think it's really hard too pollinate pings.
    My guess is that they have been cloned too much.
    SK-8 OR DIE

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    jurow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zero View Post
    Hi Jim,
    I think it's really hard too pollinate pings.
    My guess is that they have been cloned too much.
    The author of the pollination guide on pinguicula.org seems to agree with Zero:

    "There are several reasons why pollination may not succeed and they are not all well understood....One of your partners may be infertile. This has developed on several Mexican species that have been in cultivation for too long. The origin of this lack of fertility is unknown and may stem from past mass in vitro cultivation with the use of synthetic hormones. In this case, male and female parts may not be un-functional at the same time so that your plant may still be receptive to the pollen of another species or yield viable pollen while being auto-infertile. One classic example is made by P. esseriana and P. ehlersiae which are non auto-fertile in European collections. However, the 2 can be crossed successfully when the cross is carried in one direction only!"

    They also recommend using a toothpick because it is invasive to the anthers and less so to the rest of the flower:

    "The use of a sharp instrument to collect the pollen is also advisable because it helps in the breakage of the antherís membrane and the release of the pollen grains it contains. Personally, I use a wood toothpick. They can be used as such or flattened and sharpened on one end with a blade to fit the size of the stigma lip. This will allow more pollen to be collected and inflict less damage to the flower structures."

    The hobbyist is extremely risk-averse, but doesn't even offer anecdotal evidence to support his claims. I've been pretty rough when pollinating pings this season, and have been rewarded with good seed-sets. As far as virus-infection goes...I guess we'll have to see.

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    Tropical Fish Enthusiast jimscott's Avatar
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    Thanks for the background info and links. Aside from my lack of skill or luck, I may just be set up for failure as wel.

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