Anthuriums, with their vibrant and exotic flowers, have become a popular choice for both indoor and outdoor gardening enthusiasts. One of the more fascinating aspects of these plants is their pollination process, which involves the collection of pollen from one plant to fertilize another. By mastering the art of collecting anthurium pollen, gardeners can enhance the diversity and beauty of their anthurium collections by creating new hybrids and unique flower colors.
Collecting anthurium pollen is a fairly simple process that requires just a few tools and some keen observation. The key to successful pollen collection lies in timing, as the pollen is ready to be collected when it becomes visible on the surface of the spadix after the stigmatic fluid has dried up. This event typically occurs over a few days, and gardeners must carefully monitor their anthurium plants to ensure the perfect timing for collecting the pollen.
Once collected, the pollen can either be used immediately if another anthurium plant is in its receptive phase or be frozen for later use. With proper storage and accurate application of the pollen, successful pollination can lead to the formation of small berries containing seeds that can be harvested to grow entirely new anthurium plants.
Understanding Anthurium Pollen
Anatomy of Anthurium Flowers
Anthuriums are tropical plants known for their heart-shaped leaves and unique, exotic flowers. The flowers consist of a brightly colored spathe, which is actually a modified leaf, and a central spadix. The spadix is a cylindrical spike that holds the plant’s tiny, closely packed flowers. Each flower on the spadix contains both male and female reproductive structures: the anthers (male) produce pollen, while the stigma (female) receives pollen during pollination.
The pollination process in Anthuriums is fascinating and straightforward. It involves transferring pollen from the anthers to the stigma of the same or another Anthurium flower. An important fact to note is that the male and female reproductive structures of an Anthurium flower mature at different times, preventing self-pollination.
- Anther maturation: Wait until the flower produces pollen. When the anthers mature, they release pollen, which you can see as a fine, powdery substance on the spadix.
- Collecting pollen: To collect Anthurium pollen, use a small brush or cotton swab to gently swipe across the anthers. This action will pick up the pollen on the brush or cotton swab. Then, transfer the collected pollen into a small, labeled vial or container for storage. If you have another flower ready for pollination, you can use the pollen immediately. If not, you can freeze the pollen to apply later.
- Stigma receptiveness: For successful pollination, the stigma must be receptive. The receptiveness of a stigma is indicated by the secretion of nectar or a change in texture. This readiness usually happens a few days after the flower blooms.
- Applying pollen: When the stigma is receptive, use the previously collected pollen on the brush or cotton swab to gently apply it onto the stigma. This action will introduce the pollen to the female flower part, completing the pollination process.
After successful pollination, the Anthurium will develop small berries containing seeds. Those seeds can later be harvested, germinated, and grown into new Anthurium plants in a moist potting mix. The growth and development of these new plants may result in interesting and unique Anthurium specimens from cross-pollination.
Selecting the Right Blooms
When collecting anthurium pollen, it is crucial to choose the right blooms. You should look for flowers in the male phase, which is when the spadix releases pollen. This phase typically lasts a few days. If you have another anthurium plant in female anthesis (the female receptive stage), it’s an ideal time to begin collecting pollen.
To collect pollen from an anthurium plant, follow these steps:
- Prepare a small paintbrush and a folded piece of paper or foil to hold the collected pollen.
- Gently whisk the pollen off the spadix using the paintbrush.
- Transfer the collected pollen to the paper or foil.
Remember, you can continue gathering pollen as long as the male phase lasts. If you don’t have an anthurium in female anthesis, you can store the pollen for later use.
Storing and Labeling
Proper storage of anthurium pollen is essential to ensure its viability for future use. Follow these guidelines for storing and labeling the collected pollen:
- Store the pollen in a cool, dark, and dry place, away from direct sunlight, and moisture.
- Keep the pollen in a small, airtight container such as a plastic bag, or a small jar.
- Label the container with the date of collection and the name of the anthurium species.
By adhering to these collection techniques, you can successfully gather and store anthurium pollen, paving the way for successful propagation and expanding your anthurium collection.
Propagation and Breeding
When propagating anthurium plants, you will need to first collect pollen from the flowers. Here’s how: locate the spadix on the anthurium, which contains the bright-yellow male flowers that produce pollen. Since these flowers are receptive to fertilization at different times, you can increase your chances of success by collecting pollen from multiple flowers on one plant or several plants [^1^]. To do this, use a small paintbrush to gently collect pollen from one flower and spread it onto others.
The best time for cross-pollination is when the spadix has a sticky surface and the male flowers have begun to produce pollen. Once pollinated, the flowers will start to produce seeds. It is important to be patient, as seed development can take some time.
Creating New Cultivars
When breeding anthurium plants, it is crucial to consider the phenotypic traits of the parents you select. By carefully selecting parents with desirable traits, you can create new cultivars with improved features like flower size, color, or overall plant vigor.
After the pollen collection and cross-pollination process, seeds will start to develop and can be harvested when they are fully mature. The seeds can be germinated and grown into new anthurium plants.
To encourage germination, follow these steps:
- Moisten a paper towel and place the anthurium seed(s) on it.
- Fold the paper towel around the seed(s) and place in a resealable plastic bag.
- Store the bag in a warm location, ideally between 70 – 80°F (21 – 27°C).
- Check for germination regularly and gently transplant seedlings into a small pot once the roots have developed.
Through careful breeding, selection, and cultivation, you will be able to create new anthurium cultivars and expand your personal collection.
Frequently Asked Questions
Identifying male and female flowers
Anthurium flowers are bisexual, meaning each flower contains both male and female reproductive organs. The spadix, or central spike, holds the male and female reproductive structures. The male structure usually matures first, producing pollen, and the female structure matures later, becoming receptive to fertilization. To identify the phase, observe the presence of pollen or stigmatic fluid on the spadix.
Harvesting pollen from anthurium
Collecting anthurium pollen is a simple process. Wait for pollen to be visible on the spadix’s surface, which occurs after the stigmatic fluid dries up. Use a small brush or cotton swab to gently collect the pollen by dabbing or brushing over the spadix. Be gentle to avoid damaging the flower.
Storing anthurium pollen
To store anthurium pollen, you can either use it immediately for pollination or store it in a cool, dry place. Put the pollen into a small, airtight container or sealable plastic bag. Label the container with the type and date of collection to keep track. Store it in a dark and cool place, as exposure to light and heat can affect its viability.
Freezing anthurium pollen
If you don’t plan to use the pollen right away, freezing the pollen is an option. Place the sealed container or bag of pollen in a freezer. Remember to label it with the collection date and type. This method can help preserve the pollen’s viability for a longer period.
Pollinating anthurium flowers
For successful pollination, apply the collected pollen to another anthurium flower in its receptive phase, when the spadix shows no signs of stigmatic fluid. Use a small brush or cotton swab to gently dab the pollen onto the spadix, covering the female reproductive structures. After successful pollination, the flower will develop small berries containing seeds for germination.
Dealing with anthurium pollen allergies
If you have a pollen allergy, take precautions when handling anthurium flowers. Wear gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, and a mask to minimize direct contact with the pollen. Work in a well-ventilated area or outdoors to reduce the risk of inhaling pollen. If you experience any allergic reactions, such as sneezing, itching, or redness, after handling anthurium pollen, consult your doctor for advice and recommendations.
My name is Daniel Elrod, and I have been houseplant love ever since I was 17. I love how much joy they bring to any room in the home. I’ve always been amazed at how a few pots of flowing leaves can turn a drab and sterile office into an inviting place where people love to work at.