Nightshift: Pollen Collection

Sarracenia Heavy Veined

It’s that time of year again! Blooms are forming fast and rising over the mass of last years foliage wreckage! This year promises to be a much better year than last in many aspects. The first two crosses of the season were done yesterday, 5 March 2013, and the crosses were S. (rosea “Big Mama” x flava ornata) x flava “Heavy Veined” and S. (areolata x ‘Dana’s Delight’) x flava “Heavy Veined.” Good stuff! In this post, I wanted to share a few photos of how I collected pollen a few nights ago. (Now that I have the lights set up, my work hours in The Asylum aren’t limited by the daylight.) See, the plants will bloom at different times depending on species or parentage; storing pollen offers up more flexibility and more options become available in possible crosses. I am not sure how long pollen can last, but some have said that if it is stored in the freezer, it can last much longer. I think I heard 6 months but not entirely sure about that. Our subject (photographed above) is S. flava “Heavy Veined.” The plant develops a wonderful deep dark solid interior color underneath the hood with a very nice stocky shape to the pitcher. I hope to use this influence in future crosses. Since nothing else is really in bloom that I want to use it on just yet, I save the pollen just for that purpose.

Sarracenia flava "Heavy Veined" Pollen Collection
HAWT! We dropin’ pollen. Makin’ it rain all up in here…

In past years I’ve used empty paint canisters, or used plastic shot glasses to store pollen. This year I just went down to a local restaurant supply store and picked up those little containers they use for condiments for pollen storage use. Now keep in mind, many others have various different ways and styles of collecting and storing pollen. I’m simply sharing what I do that works for me.

Sarracenia flava "Heavy Veined" Pollen CollectionSexy! Sexy pollen!

I wait for the pollen to drop into the style (see illustration of flower parts in this post) to harvest it. I try to do this as early as possible to ensure fresh pollen collection. Also, right before collecting, I’ll also give it light tap on top of the flower to encourage more pollen to drop out of the anthers. Next, I will carefully tilt the flower, then gently give it a light gentle shake so that the pollen slides into the container. One can even tilt the entire pot with the plant to minimize flower aggravation. Again, it’s important to do this early enough when pollen freshly drops and it makes it easier to slide the pollen out of there between the stigmas. I find it easier to do this with the larger flowers that have the stigmas located higher up away from the pollen. If you’re careful enough not to get any pollen on the stigmas, the flower can also be used as a pollen recipient. If you are only after the pollen of said plant, you can just freakin’ chop the entire flower off, rip that style off, dump the pollen in a container, then discard flower in compost. Alternatively, you can cut the flower off at the base, stick in a small vase of water, then place the entire thing in the fridge. I know others who do this too. Again, lots of different ways to do this.

Sarracenia flava "Heavy Veined" Pollen CollectionLabel yo’ stuff.

Next – and very importantly, LABEL the container! I took a fine sharpie and wrote it on the lid AND on the side of the container to make sure there’s no mix up. Finally, I put the container in the fridge to store. I didn’t get a photo of it, but finally got a fridge for the greenhouse!! YEAH! (Thanks again Dez n’ June!) In the past I’ve gotten use out of the pollen for about a month or two. I don’t know to what extent the pollen can be stored and still be viable as I’ve never had to really go outside of 1-2 months for crosses. Hope that you found this post helpful! Looking forward to seeing what this year will bring and what everyone else will be working on. Now get out there and get crossing!

Cheers everyone!

8 responses to “Nightshift: Pollen Collection

  1. can’t wait for bloom season here…in three months. i store pollen in little envelopes i make out printer paper and tape. takes up very little storage space. as long as you’re not thawing and freezing the pollen multiple times, it can last longer than 6 months. i’ve used pollen from the previous year before, viability just drops considerably. looking forward to seeing individual plant pics from you again.

  2. i should mention that i store my pollen in the freezer not the fridge.

  3. Ah, envelopes are a great idea Cody! That’s awesome man. Also great to hear you’ve had success with it lasting longer than 6 months — sweet!

    The individual plant pics will be coming soon, plenty of new pitchers forming. So exciting! 🙂 Looking forward to seeing your blooms and plants when they’re up. Good growing!

  4. I do have some pollen stored from last year! I just remembered it thanks to your article! 🙂
    Somebody thinks that it is possible to store pollen for a year….well, I will let you know this year!

    In my greenhouse, flowers are still 4-5cm tall -_-

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