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Cross Pollination

Cross pollination has been happening to plants of all kinds, since the very first garden... the garden of Eden. Over that long span of time, cross pollination has brought us a wealth of varieties, with all kinds of plants. Without it, a red rose might be the only rose flower color. And, there would only be one size and shape of pumpkins, one type of tomato... how boring.

In today's garden, it is important for us to understand what cross pollination is and what it does.. to our flowers, fruits and vegetables. We are also interested in the effect upon the seed produced from a cross pollination. For, it is in that seed, that the promise of a new variety is carried.


The Big Question.....

Let's get right to the issue that so many gardeners want to know and understand........

By far, the most common question we are asked about cross pollination is:

"If I grow two different varieties of a type of garden plant (like a corn, or cucumbers,or peppers), will cross pollination affect the taste, flavor or texture of the fruit or vegetable?

The answer: No.. not this year. But, yes next year, if you use seed that has been cross-pollinated. For example, if you grow two different varieties of peppers, a green pepper and a hot pepper, this years crop of green peppers will not take on a hot flavor.

When cross pollinated, the seed produced from this years crop, now carries some of the genetic potential of the parent plants. It will show up in the fruit or vegetable next year.

So, if you suspect there might be unwanted cross pollination, simply discard the seeds and buy new seed next year.


Cross Pollination Definition:

Cross pollination in plants is the merging of (male) pollen from one variety of a type of plant, with the female(ovule) of another variety of the same type of plant. The resulting cross, takes some of the genetics from each parent.

Botanist use this to create new varieties, or to develop varieties that carry certain traits, like weight or color in pumpkins, sweetness in fruit, or disease resistance. Some types of plants like squash are notorious cross breeders, if allowed. That's why you see so many varieties of squash.

Cross breeding in nature is generally considered a good thing. It helps create new and different varieties, and helps to continue the species. In the vegetable garden, it is not seen as a good thing, if we want o keep the seeds for next year.

Note: You can cross pollinate two types of squash. But your can't cross pollinate two different kinds of plants, like a squash and a pepper.


When Cross Pollination is Desirable:

A botanist, or an avid rose gardener, can only hope that their purposeful cross pollination of two varieties of roses, results in a new variety of rose, with award winning qualities. A giant pumpkin grower crosses two varieties of giant pumpkins, in hopes of creating yet a bigger, world record pumpkin. A seed company cross pollinates two varieties of tomatoes, with the desire to create a more disease resistant plant. These are just a few examples of the benefits of cross pollination.

It is important to recognize, that cross pollination does not always create the desired results. But, it is nature's way of aiding in the survival of the species, and in creating new variations of the species.

Intentional crosses require keeping unwanted pollens from reaching the stigma a of a plant. To accomplish this, hand pollination is performed. And, the female flower is covered before and after hand pollination. More on Hand Pollination


Related Topics:

Pollination FAQs

Poor Pollination - causes and cures

Hand Pollination

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