What do you do when you run out of pollen?

I collect pollen in small bathroom paper cups that I label with the name and date of the pollen collection. I keep the cups in large Rubbermaid containers, in my fridge.

As of a few days ago, I am totally out of pollen.

So today I found myself with a whole lot of blooms from my seed mothers, and nothing to put on them. I considered taking rose flowers from a nearby garden center, but I was never cut out for a life of crime.

This morning around 8am I collected the stamens from 3 cultivars that I use and placed them into dated paper cups.

It has been an hour and half, and no pollen has been released yet.

I have the emasculated flowers covered by the same small paper cups and I need to do something with them in the next few hours.

Have any of you tried to take freshly harvested stamens and just pile them onto newly emasculated pistils?

I have no choice but to try that this morning. I will take pics and let you know if any of mine produce a hip.

I have a bunch of new roses on order to increase my pollen supply, but sadly, they will not help me until next year.

As I was pollinating this morning, I had this song running through my head. If you’ve seen the movie you’ll know the song.

Every pollen grain is sacred,

Every pollen grain is great.

If a pollen grain is wasted,

God gets quite irate.

One of the early Canadian breeders (I think it was Percy Wright, but not positive) would just take a flower of the pollen parent and put it on the seed parent flower when he did his pollinations. I don’t remember how he held it on but I think tape would work. I don’t know how well it works because I’ve never tried it but it should work in theory.

As for containers I use the old film containers. They are air tight and you can freeze the pollen in them if you want. You can buy them on ebay real cheep, I think I got 50 of them for $10.00.

The pollen you collected this morning should be ready to use tomorrow. If there are lots of blooms on your seed parents, there should be some ready tomorrow and the next day as well. So try the putting the pollen parent flowers on some flowers today if you have any and plan on using the pollen you collected tomorrow and the next day.

I tried piling up the pollen anthers onto the pistils this morning, then covered the crosses with small paper cups to keep the anthers in place. I am attaching some pictures.

On one of my other seed mothers, I took an entire flower less petals, and placed it upside down onto the emasculated pistils, then covered the whole thing with a small paper cup.

Whatever would I do without those cups??? LOL

I am attaching some photos of what I did today, and will report in a couple of weeks if any of these turned into hips.

[attachment 1766 Anthersonpistils2.jpg]

[attachment 1767 closeupofanthersonpistils.jpg]

[attachment 1768 papercuptokeepanthersonpistils.jpg]

The question was asked: "Have any of you tried to take freshly harvested stamens and just pile them onto newly emasculated pistils?

I have no choice but to try that this morning. I will take pics and let you know if any of mine produce a hip."

I often took the whole flower (minus petals) and did that. The zip lock 2 X 2 inch bags were ideal in holding the 2 in the ideal postion to each other. I would guess that almost all of my crosses with John Davis as the pollen parent were done this way as John Davis was almost always in bloom.


Just a practical suggestion–

You can also delay the opening of the flowers by a day or two without hurting anything–just put a piece of tape around the opening bud, or (better, in general) slip a small paper cone over the top. I’ve used this tactic occasionally over the years. It’s no worse than having a cold spell come along and delay the development of the flower for a couple of days, as often happens early in the season.


At a National American Rose Society Meeting a rose hybridizer (I think from Indiana) had slides about using inverted cones held above the pollinated bud with a stick (or maybe 2 - memory?) that went to the ground.

Henry, I used your method for one of my crosses this morning, used a paper cup to hold it in place.

I will let you know if this method worked for me, the seed rose sets hips easily, so hopefully that will help.

Thank you for sharing your experience with this method.

Be sure that the cups used are low on wax. The ones heavy on wax can melt into the reproductive parts at even moderate temps. I found this out the hard way :]

Placing an open cut flower with stamens exposed on the flower to pollinate was described by Spanish breeder Pedro Dot 1885-1976.

In order to accelerate pollen release from fresh stamens I put them some 20cm below an incandescent lamp. Similar to intense sun.

I talked with Dee Bennett’s daughter, Sue, once and she said her Mom always just cut the bloom off of one plant and rubbed it into the bloom on the other to pollinate. She bred a lot of lovely minis so I guess fresh pollen must work. Besides that I don’t think the bees wait for it to dry while they go from bloom to bloom…