You are now ready to cross pollinate. Either with a brush or by hand, coat the Stigma of the Seed Parent with pollen from the Pollen Parent. If you are doing it by hand it may be easier to detach the Pollen Parent flower, remove the Stigma and bunch the Anthers together and coat the Stigma of the Seed Parent. If you are using a brush it should be thoroughly cleaned if doing several different pollinations.At this stage you could cover the Seed Parent flower with a small paper bag but thoughts are that, like humans, once fertilisation takes place the doors are closed to any further fertilisation. You should identify the Seed Parent flower by coloured wire or wool loosely fastened around the Pedicel behind the seed head. Records should be kept as to the parentage, in this case it would be - Seed Parent ‘Wilf Langton’ X Pollen Parent ‘Millenium’. If you are doing several crosses on one Seed Parent plant but using different Pollen Parents you could further identify each Seed Parent flower with different colour wire or wool and add each colour to your records. If your new plants eventually end up on the show benches growers do like to know the parentage.Now you have to wait until the seed pod ripens. This can take around 6 - 8 weeks, sometimes longer, and will swell and generally turn a dark purple colour like the one below, some may stay a greenish colour. Either way it should feel quite soft
Whilst taking cuttings of fuchsias can give enormous pleasure a step further is to actually raise them from seed yourself. This way you have the chance of introducing a totally new and unique cultivar and the option of naming it yourself. Remember though that taking seed pods at random from around the garden will not lead to plants with the same characteristics of it’s seed parent, this can only be done by taking cuttings, but it can still be good fun. Hybridizers having been trying for years to produce a yellow fuchsia using the one in the picture above, which is Fuchsia Procumbens, a specie and the only yellow fuchsia, but they still remain unsuccessful.
Hybridizers will look for characteristics such as colour and shape of blooms, whether they are floriferous, more disease resistant, the growth habit (trailing, upright, etc.) and colour of the foliage. The majority tend to go for cultivars which will do well on the show benches.First of all let’s familiarise ourselves with the parts of a fuchsia flower that you will need to know connected with hybridising.The flower on the left shows the Style and Stigma. The Stigma is the female receptive organ and leads up to the Ovary or Seed Pod. During hybridizing this flower is refered to as the Seed Parent.The one on the right shows the Filaments and Anthers. These are the Male sex organs and during hybridizing this flower is known as the Pollen ParentThat’s as much as you need to know. Some websites on this topic wander off into genetics and technical jargon. Here it’s kept plain and simple!
Just what time of the year to start hybridizing is a matter of choice. Obviously it has to be during the flowering period but one theory is that the end of August or the beginning of September is better because the plants will be slowing up for winter and will hang on to their seeds pods (which is what you want) better than the main summer months. Be aware that most cultivars will keep their seed pods after the flower drops anyway but some will drop flowers and seed pods together.
Having decided which 2 cultivars to cross pollinate you have to make sure that the Pollen Parent does have fresh pollen present at the same time as you prepare the Seed Parent. The flower above on the right has none at all on the Anthers whilst the one the left is just showing signs on a couple and will be ready in a day or so.
To prepare the Seed Parent select a bud from the top of the plant which is just about to open. A bud from the bottom may already have been pollinated by flowers above it. Carefully open this bud without damaging the Stigma.Above right you can see the Stigma and Anthers still enclosed by the petals/corolla. Carefully cut away the Anthers with a small pair of scissors leaving the Stigma intact.
POLLEN PARENT ‘Millenium’
SEED PARENT ‘Wilf Langton’
Another sign is the Pedicel shrinking and becoming brittle so be careful the pod does not drop off and become lost.Once it is ready, place the ripe pod on a tissue and cut down the length and separate the two halves. With the tip of a knife or tweezers remove the fleshy part. This is where you find out if your efforts have been worthwhile. There could either be no seeds at all, just one or two, or quite a few. You can see them in the picture on the right (much enlarged and a bit blurry I’m afraid) but you can see they are quite tiny. With a pair of tweezers or a pin remove any fertile seeds (which are hard and usually dark brown) from both halves and any stuck to the fleshy bit to a clean tissue to soak up any moisture. You may find a magnifying glass useful as well.Leave to dry for 24 hours and then sow them into seed trays or pots filled with sieved compost which has been moistened beforehand. The seeds should be spaced out and fractionally below the surface. Cover with a plastic lid or bag and place out of the sunlight but somewhere where the temperature should be around 18 Centigrade/64 Fahrenheit.
Whilst waiting for germination and the compost surface looks as though it is drying out then dampen it with a fine mister.Some or none of the seeds may be fertile but, given the right conditions of moisture levels and warmth, your efforts should be rewarded with germination taking place in 4 to 8 weeks or so. Germination can be erratic and the seeds might not all germinate at the same time. Whilst the seedlings develop the best way of watering is to briefly dip the pot or tray in liquid feed.Once they have developed a pair of seed leaves they should be carefully pricked out and potted up individually into 2” pots. Only handle them by their seed leaves and don’t forget to label them with their parentage. If you are lucky enough to have 20 seedlings from one pod then you should introduce a numbering system of some sort for each seedling. This makes it easier to keep track if you eventually take cuttings later on.As the plant grows then pot them up accordingly adding canes for support.Hybridizers intent on releasing new cultivars, especially for the show benches, will evaluate their new seedlings for at least three years. Any showing weak or spindly growth in the early stages will be dispatched to the compost bin. The remaining are usually left unstopped and allowed to flower as soon as possible. If the flower is imperfect or the colour and shape is the same or similar to a cultivar already in circulation then, again, these are discarded. Any showing uneven growth (branches growing much longer on one side than the the other) will also be discarded. The colour and form of the foliage is also taken into consideration as well as their resistance to pests and diseases. Any left showing signs of making it have cuttings taken from them to see if these carry the same characteristics. After all this, any seedlings left they think are suitable are generally given to a specialist fuchsia nursery for them to grow on and evaluate. Out of 300 seedlings a hybridizer raises, only several, if they are lucky, will make it to the public or the show benches.So you see it is all very hit and miss and results can be unexpected. The seed and pollen parents own parentage may reappear. Of course if you are hybridizing just for the fun of it then you do not have to be as critical as the serious hybridizer but you should really leave them unstopped and allow them to flower as soon as possible. Keep the best and discard the weak.Its hard to say just how many different cultivars have been introduced over the years but its estimated at 10,000 to 12,000 with about 7,000 still in circulation. If you are successful you can quite rightly claim these as your very own fuchsias and there may be no others like them.
Roll Over with mouse to see enlarged fertile seeds