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Re: RE: HYB: Freezing Pollen

Like Colleen, I've refrigerated pollen with a
dessicant and used it several months later with good
results. If I'm planning on using it a year later, I'd
probably freeze it. Here is the method I use to store
all kinds of pollen, (irises, daylilies, roses, etc.).

I brush the pollen onto a mirror and then scrape it
into empty gelatin capsules (actually I've been using
cellulose capsules lately that I found at a health
food store for vegetarians to repackage their pills).
I'm sure I must look like a drug addict (with my
mirror full of pollen and my razor blade, but it works
really well. I got a plastic tub of silica gel
(dessicant) from the craft store (it's intended for
drying flowers in). I have little plastic screw-top
tubes/vials that I store each capsule in. So, I put a
little scoop of dessicant in the tube followed by a
loose wad of cotton. Then the capsule sits on top of
that, and screw on the top. Voila! I started using the
cotton between the dessicant and the capsule, because
I had formerly used Calcium chloride as a dessicant,
which gets wet as it absorbs moisture. Then the
gelatin would get soggy -- not good. So, when I'm
ready to use a sample of pollen, I pull out a vial and
warm it in my hands, before unscrewing the top (since
any moisture is supposed to be detrimental). Then I
open the capsule and dump out a little pollen and it's
ready to use. The remaining pollen can be put back to
storage for later use. This method has worked well
enough for me, that I get successful crosses with at
least one-year-old pollen. I haven't had a need to try
out older pollen.

This storage of pollen allows for crosses that would
never have been possible otherwise. For example, if I
hadn't stored pollen from some Iris suaveolens clones,
I would have never been able to get the hybrids of
these with pallida and variegata. Both of the latter
species bloom so much later than suaveolens, that I
never would have had them in bloom when I had pollen
available. Similarly, very early and very late TB
irises (that didn't overlap in bloomtime) could still
be hybridized, by using stored pollen.

And it's actually pretty simple. 
Hope it works for you too. Tom

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