Hand pollinating Crocus

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DieramaDave
DieramaDave's picture
Title: Admin
Joined: 2009-10-30
Hand pollinating Crocus

Hello All
The [glow=yellow,1,10]sun[/glow] is shining, and the Crocus are starting to flower. I've never had any seed set on Crocus, but hope to alter that with a liberal application of paint brushes. It might just be our normal, heavy rains that prevent the pollination of Crocus, but perhaps there are other things I need to consider. Are there timing issues regarding maturation of pollen and the receptiveness of the stigmatic surfaces? Are there also issues of self-sterility? My interests center on species, Crocus and most everything else. Thanks for any advise.

Dave Brastow (Tumwater, Washington-zone 7A)

Boland
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Title: Member
Joined: 2009-09-25

I expect Ian (Young) is the expert in this...hopefully he can answer your question.

Todd Boland
St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada
Zone 5b
1800 mm precipitation per year

IMYoung
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-31

Tough luck, Todd and Dave.... with the time difference Ian is fast asleep and there is just the insomniac Croconut here: Maggi Young

Crocus are among the more obliging of bulbs... they really do seem to want to please us by making seed.
For a lot of the early bulbs, when natural pollinators are not around, it is a good idea to keep a selection of little paintbrushes dotted about the place so there is always one to hand when you see a flower open.

Crocus, in continuance of their helpful nature, are not too difficult to pollinate ( anyone who has attempted sex with an Iris will attest to the possible difficulties there!) ....with crocus anthers is it is easy to see when the anthers dehisce.... on a good day one can sit and watch them open up and see the pollen grains expand in the sun... once the pollen is "running" that is the time to get busy with your paint brush and keep at it each day until you see that the flower is beginning to fade. This diligence will greatly increase your success rate. You will soon develop a good eye to see when a stigma really seems to accept the pollen and when you get to that stage of expertise you can reduce the daily brushing . One of the great  things about attending to the work of the bee in this way is the close observation which one perforce achieves in the act.... this is a bonus and very rewarding in so many ways.... the person who REALLY looks at their plants  and thinks about what they are seeing, is a person who learns most about the plants!

Ian  and/or Margaret Young ( -here it is usually Margaret)

Aberdeen , North East Scotland, UK
Zone 8a

www.srgc.net

Kelaidis
Kelaidis's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-02-03

I'm intrigued with the concept of having sex with iris: and I thought I was a lover of the genus! Obviously, the Scots carry their enthusiasm to a very high level indeed.

No one seems to have mentioned that crocuses' seed is cryptic and some species seem to disperse it with amazing promptitude. The only North American plant resembling them that I know of is Leucocrinum montanum: I remember the day I realized the seedpods had formed underground. Then one miraculous day, with a gentle breeze, I actually found a field of them where the seed was emerging and being blown about before my eyes--like magic! the wind and temperature were perfect to summon (as it were) the seed from underground. I thought insects must have been the vector, until I happened to be in just the right pot at just the right time. I wonder if anyone else has observed that phenomenon? I'll bet something very similar occurs with crocuses.

For every minion of the peaks there are a dozen steppe children growing in the dry Continental heart of all hemispheres still unknown to horticulture.

HughGmail
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-07-08

I have not seen the seed dispersal but have the good fortune to witness the yearly blooming of Leucocrinum montanum at my home early in April.  They are indeed a harbinger of a new season!  A few pictures from the Spring of 2007!

Hugh Mac Millan
Former NARGS Web Master, Moderator
Eriogonum enthusiast
Zone 5+- - Front Range, Colorado (Denver area)

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Hi Dave!

I grow my crocus planted 4-6" deep, then with a cover of 2" course pine bark mulch.  They are planted at the base of late-to-leaf tap-rooted shrubs and trees (Hibiscus syriacus cultivars, Oxydendron, Chionanthus virginicus, etc) where spring bulbs get all the light they need, then when they go dormant and the trees/shrubs enter into active growth, the theory is that moisture is wicked away by thirsty tree/shrub roots allowing the bulbs to rest and stay dryish.  The loose airy mulch layer also stays relatively dry, a good envirnment for the pods to develop, and as such, I get a tremendous amount of Crocus seed set.  When the Crocus flower here in northern New England, it is in a short contracted season of approximately 2-3 weeks (early April), and there are typically lots of pollinating bees about. 

I have noticed that some species seem to set lots of seed every year (malyi, chrysanthus hybrids, biflorus varieties, kosaninii, etruscus, angustifolius, suaveolens, etc), whereas a few species rarely set seed here (C. vitillinus).

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Hoy
Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

Crocuses are among the corms I can grow here, not all of course but quite a few. Some of hybridise and spread. I let them do!

Should look like the first now, but looks like the last!

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Hugh wrote:

I have not seen the seed dispersal but have the good fortune to witness the yearly blooming of Leucocrinum montanum at my home early in April.  They are indeed a harbinger of a new season!  A few pictures from the Spring of 2007!

I have heard that this plant is difficult to grow; seems like it is doing fine for you.  Where did you get your plants from?  Maybe there are easy-to-grow forms around.  Do others have experience with Leucocrinum?  I'm adding it to my list, tho my list is getting very long!

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

HughGmail
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-07-08

Sorry Mark for the late reply -  I am blessed with 5 acres where they grow naturally - I do not know of a source - perhaps I can attempt to dig a few this year and send them!

Hugh Mac Millan
Former NARGS Web Master, Moderator
Eriogonum enthusiast
Zone 5+- - Front Range, Colorado (Denver area)

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Hugh wrote:

Sorry Mark for the late reply -  I am blessed with 5 acres where they grow naturally - I do not know of a source - perhaps I can attempt to dig a few this year and send them!

I would be ever so grateful to get a couple starts sometime, I'm sure we can manage a mutual swap of plants of interest.  Thank you!

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Dave wrote:

Hello All
The [glow=yellow,1,10]sun[/glow] is shining, and the Crocus are starting to flower.  I've never had any seed set on Crocus, but hope to alter that with a liberal application of paint brushes.  It might just be our normal, heavy rains that prevent the pollination of Crocus, but perhaps there are other things I need to consider.  Are there timing issues regarding maturation of pollen and the receptiveness of the stigmatic surfaces?  Are there also issues of self-sterility?  My interests center on species, Crocus and most everything else.  Thanks for any advise.

Dave Brastow (Tumwater, Washington-zone 7A)
 

Dave, see the image of the day, I posted pics of just one of the nice hybrid Crocus that opened up recently, in their 4th year from seed.  More to come.
See:  http://nargs.org/smf/index.php?topic=24.msg1002#msg1002

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

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