The Daylily Place: Freezing Pollen

The following information has been contributed by members of the Daylily E-Mail Round Robin for your enjoyment.
Remember, tis is my method, and may be worth exactly what you paid for it. Not responsible for your outcome. (Does that get me off the hook?).

As you know, there are about as many ways of freezing and storing pollen as there are hybridizers (I just happen to think mine is the correct way) :-). I may have sent this before but since there are so many new robiners' I will do it again.

Items I use:
1. A pair of cross-lock tweezers (they open when squeezed, and close when released). Available at jewelry supply stores.
2. An array of strip pill containers. I use several including, a) a tray which includes 7 strips of pill boxes with 5 compartments each; b) I found some that have 14 compartments, 7 on each side with the lids opening to the center (on this one the lids may be removed and the whole thing put in the dishwasher to clean); and lastly, 3) some strips with 7 compartments only.

These are normally available in the pharmacy areas of drug stores. The double strips may be the hardest to find and you may need to go to an independent pharmacy and ask them to order for you. If you need to have them ordered, I can provide the mfg. and stock no.

I begin by collecting pollen (anthers only) before it is fully open. The stamens are removed and I slide a thumbnail and forefinger down the stamen and remove the anther. I use an egg carton and place each individual cultivar's pollen in one compartment. I then leave this to dry during the day on the table or kitchen cabinets. After collecting the anthers, the tweezers are used in handling and transferring.

Now for the pill containers . . . if I am collecting for storage for future use, I use the tray and strips, placing an adhesive label (these are Avery labels available in most office supply stores or WallMart, etc., and are about 1/2" x 3/4" and sold by the small box) on the lid with the cultivar name. I then place each cultivar in its' own compartment, sometimes having 100 or more anthers stored depending on how much or how long I want to use that particular pollen. Some individuals will place a piece of tissue in the bottom of the compartment, but I have found the pollen stores just as well without. This tray is then inserted in a plastic ziplock bag and placed in the freezer.

When I want to use the pollen, I will take the tray out of the freezer and let it warm to room temperature for about 20 minutes, and remove from the ziplock bag. I then use the other strip compartments (I prefer the double ones with 14 compartments), remove the pollen anther(s) that I want to use from the tray and place it in the strip compartment. Depending on how much I plan to use that particular pollen depends on how many anthers I transfer. When this strip is not out being used for hybridizing, it is also kept in a ziplock bag in the freezer for use the next day (taking out about 20 minutes before using). Using this method, I think you can safely use the pollen from the strip for four or five days before it starts getting weak. Also it helps to keep it out of the sun when outside hybridizing.

I use practically all frozen pollen in my hybridizing efforts because it is available when I want to make my crosses early in the morning and I can't wait for pollen to mature. If I am later and the fresh pollen is available that I want to use, I will use it. Early in the hybridizing season, cultivars that you might want to use may not be blooming yet, so this is one way to start early with good a good parent, not just what is available.

Using a similar method, Bob Carr of Ocala, FL has successfully used pollen stored in the freezer for nine years.

Lee Pickles, Chattanooga Daylily Gardens

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Last revised: June 8, 1996.

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