I was purchasing new items for pollen today (tray, brush, etc)for this coming growing season. I was curious about two things. One, are there any substances that can be mixed with pollen to provide better reception? Specifically for poor pollen producers or highly infertile crosses. Second, how long is pollen viable. I know that some plant’s pollen “could” last millions of years but were talking about the tempermental and unpredictable rose so… Anyhow, this question was brought up because of the availability of some florist roses I wanted to experiment with (Als Gold, Coral Passion, Jade, etc).
I usually try to use pollen within a few days, but some people keep it for weeks in the refrigerator or months in the freezer. The important thing seems to be sure that the pollen stays dry.
Many years ago I read a brief article in one of the science magazines about how bats who ate pollen as a large part of their diets first dunked the pollen grains in flower nectar. I have always wondered if applying a little sugar water to the pistils might help with “difficult” crosses. Imitating nature usually seems to be a good idea.
For several years I tried using non-polar organic solvents to give the pollen a longer storage life and to “paint” the pollen on the stigmas. This was based on some literature articles. My results were unconclusive.
Putrascene is supposed to help germination.
Thanks guys! I will try some experiments this coming summer on some of the one’s I have difficulty with (Disco Dancer and Tequila Sunrise have been horrible for me). At any event, it’s worth a try just for the sake of adventure and curiousity.
Some folks apply a solution of gibberellic acid the flower after applying pollen. It is a plant hormone that is said to increase seed set by keeping the flower receptive longer, thus allowing pollens that are difficult to have more time for the pollen tubes to grow into the ovary.
I tried a very unscientific experiment last season and saw no noticeable increase in seed production, but then I was trying to enhance seed set on a nearly sterile rugosa seedling of mine. I remember reading that some of the pros use this stuff, so maybe there’s something to it.