Friday, August 2, 2013

Storing Pollen.

Hello Daylily Friends,

Recently on the "Robin," there was discussion of how pollen should be stored, and then sometimes frozen.  My good friend, Nan Ripley, from Iowa, asked me to prepare a presentation to show at the AHS National Convention in Minnesota.  When I spoke I included the storage of pollen as part of my subject.  After my presentation, I was asked several questions about the use of "match boxes" in storing pollen, so I thought that I would again go through my thoughts on this subject here on the blog.  And thanks Nan for inviting me to speak; it was fun.  Let me go back to FANCY
LACE, which I spoke about earlier, here on the blog, on Wednesday, July 17, 2013.  I started gathering pollen from FANCY LACE, and to do this I used my scissors.  I was careful not to disturb the "Pistol," because I wanted to try to set a seed which requires a healthy Pistol.  Anyway, I cut away the six Stamen.  Then, I took the "Anthers" on the Stamen, and gently put them into one end of a match box.  Next, I mostly closed the match box, and gently pulled on the Anthers so that these could be separated from the stem on the Stamen.  I'm showing two pictures so that it will be easier to see what I did.

One question I was asked at the National Convention was why I used match boxes.  Well, a match box is designed to absorb moisture to protect the integrity of the matches.  So, when the Anthers are stored in the boxes, the moisture in the Anthers is absorbed by the box, and all that is left is the useful pollen.

Speaking of "useful pollen," we should look at the match box where the Anthers containing the pollen, was placed.  The first picture shows the pollen only moments after it was separated from the stems of the stamen.  The pollen is not mature.  There is moisture in the Anthers.  The match box containing the pollen is placed in the refrigerator for one day. The next day the pollen is mature and the moisture has been absorbed by the match box.  I then take the match box, and put it into a plastic sandwich bag.  The sandwich bag is then placed in the "freezer."  I know for a fact from personal
experience that the pollen can be used for as long as two years.  I even know of another hybridizer who reports that the pollen will last up to five years.  When I want to use the pollen I simply take the pollen from the match box using "surgical scissors" or tweezers.  I usually remove only one Anther of pollen at a time, and then quickly close the match box and the sandwich bag and put this right back into the freezer.  I try not to keep more than 10 or 12 anthers in a match box because I will be opening the match box as many times as needed to use the pollen.  I think that too much pollen makes the usefulness of the pollen to be not as dependable.

Also, as I may have said, I write the name of the pollen on the sandwich bag so that it can be more easily identified in the freezer.  I know that many hybridizers use plastic containers to sore pollen, and I know that some use Q-tips in their work in gathering and storing pollen.  I've also tried these methods, but I found these additional processes to take too much time.  Just too much time.  The match boxes are cheap, they are readily found in the grocery store, and they are dependable.

If a match box containing pollen is not frozen, it can be left in the refrigerator for as many as two or three weeks.  The pollen will continue to live and can used to fertilize other daylilies and make new seed pods.

Well that is all for today about storing pollen.



  1. You can purchase the small match boxes at Dollar Tree stores, or similar places. The matches themselves contain potassium, so could be put in tomato planting holes next spring, if you have a few hundred left over. Some write the cultivar name on the end of the box, and put a few in a ziploc bag in the freezer. Frozen pollen allows you to use it on flowers not blooming when you collect the anthers. One of our friends calls them "antlers". I guess only males have antlers, so maybe there's something to it.
    Bud N. Branch (AKA David)

  2. Thanks David for your comment. I was surprised that there were no questions following my post. There were several questions when I mentioned this subject at the National in Minneapolis.

    The point about writing the name of the pollen on the end of the match box is important. Otherwise it would be hard to keep up with which pollen came from where.