Artificial Pollination

In species where self-sterility predominates, artificial pollination is necessary. Pollen must be transferred by hand from one flower to the stigma of another flower on a separate plant.

For the best chance of successful pollination, it is wise to fertilize different flowers by transferring pollen from other flowers situated as far away as possible. If possible, flowers from different floral stalks should be used. In Aponogeton, Echinodorus, and Sagittaria it is common for a single plant to develop 2 or 3 stalks at one time.

As a practical point it has proved useful to fertilize a flower with a mixture of pollens from both its own species and a different but closely related species. If, for example, the self-sterile Echino-dorus paniculatus and the self-fertile E. cordijolius bloom at the same time, E. paniculatus can be pollinated by a mixture of the pollens of both species. This method is used in other branches of horticulture and experiments have shown that by this means seeds of the self-sterile species of Echinodorus can be readily obtained. The pollen of another species makes possible the fertilization of flowers by the proper pollen, but no hybrids will develop.

The technique of artificial pollination is not difficult to master. The pollen of one flower is transferred to another by means of a fine brush. In species that produce many flowers pollination can be accomplished by picking flowers and rubbing the mature anthers against the stigmas of other flowers or by shaking off yellowish clouds of pollen into the flowers which are to be fertilized. Pollination should take place in the morning about 10;00 or 11:00, as the pollen is not mature earlier than this and is not loose on the anthers.

We have not yet had any experience with the pollination of some popular species of aquarium plants, such as cryptocorynes, which are undoubtedly self-sterile. The pollen perhaps is transferred in these pi ants "by small insects attracted to the spathes. Perhaps only one species of insect is able to enter the flower and carry pollen, and it has not been imported with the plants. This is also a possible reason why Vallisneria, although flowering readily, does not produce seeds in the aquarium.

The Aponogeton species are self-fertile, responding to pollen from the same or different plants. The production of seed is heavily dependent on the environment, and the complicated conditions for successful seeding are described fully in the introduction to the family Aponogetonaceae.

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