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The Definitive Guide to Crossbreed Plants (5 Steps)

You can crossbreed plants by transferring pollen from one kind of plant to the flower of a different but compatible plant. 

You can transfer this pollen by using a paintbrush or even your finger. 

But, in the end, the result will be a hybrid of the two plants.

There are many instances in which you might want to crossbreed a plant, and a vast number of today’s plants come about using this method. 

However, you do need to do it correctly, or you’ll find that your plants aren’t what you expected, or even that they fail to produce seeds.

What Do You Need To Crossbreed Plants?

You will need two compatible plants to crossbreed them. 

So, research what belongs to the same family as the plant you wish to create a hybrid with and whether the two can breed before you attempt to cross them.

But, for the most part, there are many different combinations you can create.

Also, some plants you might not expect to be related to each other are, so this research step is important for success.

Read Also >> Hybrid vs. Heirloom Plants

Preparation for Crossbreeding Plants

Overall, you will need at least one of each kind of plant that you hope to crossbreed, although having more may be beneficial.

You can start crossbreeding once both plants are in flower, and it is best to do this around mid-morning when the dew has gone and the temperature has risen a bit.

These conditions give the pollen the best chance of being effective when applied to the flower, so it’s a good time. 

Also, you should know that you shouldn’t try to pollinate on wet days. 

5 Steps to Crossbreed Plants

Step One: Prepare The Recipient Plant

When you crossbreed, one of your plants will give pollen, and the other will receive it. 

So, decide which plant will be the giver and which will be the receiver.

Next, select a closed bud on the plant that you wish to transfer the pollen to and gently open its petals so that you can get at its inner parts.

You will then need to remove the anthers if the flower has them (the anthers are the part that produces pollen) using a pair of small scissors.

Removing the anthers prevents the flower from pollinating itself and not accepting pollen from the other plant.

When you have done this step, get a paper bag and place it over the flower. 

Then, go to your pollinating plant.

Step Two: Choose A Pollinating Flower

Select an open, healthy flower on the giving plant, and use a pair of tweezers to pull out the stamens, or simply pick the flower intact.

If your two plants are side by side or one has been grown in a pot, you can take the whole plant over to the other one.

You can also use a paintbrush or your hand to transfer pollen, but this may prove less reliable and can be fiddly for some kinds of flowers.

Step Three: Transfer The Pollen to The Recipient Plant

Once you have the pollen, temporarily remove the bag from the recipient plant and rub the pollen onto the stigma of this plant.

Some plant stigmas are only receptive some of the time, so look for a sticky, shiny tip or swelling. 

These signs indicate that the plant is ready to receive pollen.

Step Four: Cover The Pollinated Flower

When you have transferred the pollen, put the paper bag over the flower again and tie it around the flower’s stem.

Covering prevents the flower from being pollinated by another plant and increases the chance of getting a crossbreed of the two you have chosen.

Some people use plastic bags to cover the flower, but this increases the risk of the flower rotting because the plastic will trap moisture around it.

So, you should use paper bags when covering for the long term. 

You should now leave the bag over the plant, but it is okay to peek inside occasionally to see if you have been successful.

Overall, if your plant head begins to shrivel and drop its petals, your experiment was likely successful.

You should gradually see the ovule, which is where the seeds form, beginning to grow fatter as the seeds ripen.

If you see this, it indicates that you transmitted the pollen correctly and that the flower accepted it.

Step Five: Store The Seeds and Re-Plant

Finally, when the seeds have fully formed, you can remove the flower head, take the seeds indoors, and prepare them for storage.

You can get them ready for storage by drying them out and placing them in envelopes in a cool, dark, dry place.

The next year, you can plant your seeds and see if you have managed to crossbreed the plants correctly.

You can determine a crossbreed because it should show traits from both parent plants. 

However, be wary of eating vegetables from hybrids.

Hybrid offspring may not always be safe to consume.

Read Also >> How to Harvest and Store Seeds?

Can You Crossbreed All Plants?

As stated above, not all plants are compatible, so you cannot crossbreed a plant with just any other.

The two plants must belong to the same genus because this ensures that they are compatible, just as animals belonging to the same family can mate with each other.

However, it is best to avoid using F1 hybrids when you are crossbreeding plants, even if they belong in the genus of the other plant. 

F1 hybrids usually already have very mixed and complicated parentage, making it difficult for them to breed.

Generally, it may be better to choose heirloom seeds to crossbreed to try to enhance desirable traits, especially if you have particular favorites among your garden plants.

Read Also >> How to Save Heirloom Seeds?

Do Wild Plants Crossbreed?

Wild plants constantly crossbreed, which is why there is so much variety among them.

For example, the orchid genus contains over 28,000 species because these plants have persistently crossbred. 

This crossbreeding has led to changes in their genetic makeup, ability to adapt to new conditions, and altered their shape and survival strategies.

Overall, crossbreeding is what has made the plant world so diverse.

However, you don’t always get a positive outcome when trying to breed specific varieties together.

Yet, there is a lot of fun to be had in crossbreeding, and if you’re a keen gardener with some favorite plants, it’s well worth trying.

Conclusion

You can crossbreed plants by transferring the pollen from any plant within the same genus to a flower from another plant. 

This cross-pollination should pass the genetic information from both plants into the seedlings, resulting in a hybridization, which will create a new variety with entirely new traits.

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