Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Streptocarpus Propagation, Part 2

Now that the streptocarpus leaves have made "baby plants", what do you do with them?

When the young are getting to be 1/2" to 3/4" or larger they can be gently separated away from the parent leaf.

Sometimes the "mother" leaf will have rotted away by the time the young are ready to be moved into individual pots.

Take the row of young and very gently "tease" them apart with a toothpick or tweezers or even a chopstick. Chopsticks work well because they are narrow, not sharp and usually won't damage what you're working on if used with care.

The parent might have produced more young than you wish to pot up, so select the best and strongest. Use a very light potting mix. Streps, young and old, do NOT like to be soaking in water. That is one of the fastest ways to kill them!

After you have the individual plants in their solo cups (or small pots with good drainage) put the group of pots back under some sort of humidity dome or cover so that they are in approximately the same conditions that the newly propagating leaf was in.

With luck you should have a good size offspring in just a couple of weeks! Thanks very kindly to Sharon Johnson for demonstrating the strep propagation process for us!!!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Hybridizing, Part 3 The Pollination Process

Hybridizing - Session III: Here are the actual steps to pollinate the plants. I believe each step of the process is covered, but if you have any questions or you think something needs more detailed explanation, please post a comment and I will respond.

The piece of paper is simply for picture contrast. Fortunately, the new blossom pistils on Rebel’s Scotty have been strong and well formed. Many hybridizers remove the pollen sacs (anthers) from the mother plant. I usually don’t bother, but since I am reverse pollinating and will be using them, I have. You want to be sure the blossom is freshly opened.

I use a cuticle scissors to cut off the pollen sacs from the paternal plant, trying to get at least three or four good plump sacs. Fresh sacs and fresh pistils will give you the best results.

Cut the edge off the sac to form a hole and gently squeeze the sac so the pollen is exposed. Push the sac over the tip of the pistil so that it is well coated with pollen.

I mentioned above getting three or four sacs. I like to pollinate two or three blossoms on a bloom stem (peduncle). On each blossom, I use the pollen from two different sacs to be sure it takes.

Winter months for most of us will have our plants showing signs of powdery mildew.

That will kill of the bloom stems and seed pods very quickly. So I keep a eye on them and use a paint brush soaked in fungicide to clean the stem.

This same process will be repeated for each of the parent plants. Not much happens now except for the seed pods to form, grow and dry up. The full process will be about six months. However, there will be pictures monthly to show you the progress of the different crosses. Some may not take at all and will be started over. We shall see.