How to Crossbreed Two Fruit Plants
It take two to tango, but nobody says those two have to bear the same genus and species name. Crossbreeding is the botanical mixing of two plant species to create a hybrid, ideally one with all the best characteristics of the parent plants and none of their faults. Those of us who are parents know how tricky this can be, but many successful fruit hybrids can be found in grocery stores, such as pluot (plum and apricot), tangelo (tangerine and pomelo) and marionberry (olallieberry and chehalem). Creating a great hybrid requires a high tolerance for a hit-or-miss approach, but it makes for fun experiments in the home orchard.
Find and identify the sexual organs in the flowers of the fruit trees or bushes you hope to crossbreed, using a magnifying glass. The reproductive parts are called the stamen (male) and pistil (female). The exact shape varies among flowers, but the stamen will have yellow pollen emerging from its tip and the pistil is located just above a swelling ovary.
Determine whether the plants you wish to crossbreed have perfect or imperfect flowers. Perfect flowers contain both sexual organs, while imperfect flowers have one or the other. If some flowers do not have pollen and others do, your flowers are imperfect. Pollination involves moving the pollen from the stamen to the pistil; this often happens in nature by means of wind or insects.
Choose healthy, sturdy plants. Select flowers that have not opened for crossbreeding to make sure that natural pollination has not already occurred. Choose the pollen parents from plants whose flowers have heavy yellow pollen. Choose the seed parents from plants whose flowers have a generous supply of a sticky substance on the pistil; this catches and holds the pollen.
Snip off the stamen from the seed parent flowers with a small scissors if the flowers are perfect. If you do not do this, the plant may pollinate itself before you can pollinate with another species. Cover the seed parents loosely with plastic bags to protect against unwanted pollination.
Pluck out the stamens from a pollen parent using tweezers. Remove the bag from a seed parent. Grasp the stamen with the tweezers and use the stamen tip as a brush to pass pollen to the seed parent’s stigma. Replace the bag on the seed parent. Mark the bag with a label, giving the two parent species and the date of the cross.
Provide the plant with irrigation and ideal conditions for fruiting. When the cross-pollinated flowers develop ripe fruit, harvest them. Remove and air-dry the seeds, and then plant them appropriately. Label the seedlings of each different crossbreeding so you will know which is which. When the seedlings mature into fruit-bearing plants, you can taste the new hybrid fruit you have created.
How to Crossbreed Two Fruit Plants. It take two to tango, but nobody says those two have to bear the same genus and species name. Crossbreeding is the botanical mixing of two plant species to create a hybrid, ideally one with all the best characteristics of the parent plants and none of their faults. Those of us who …