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Tricks for selfing Vanilla

Discussion in 'Everything Else Orchid' started by DPfarr, Jun 2, 2012.

  1. DPfarr

    DPfarr Well-Known Member

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    Sacramento, CA
    Last time it bloomed I couldn't get a selfing of it to take. I tried in the early morning, dissecting out the rostellum, and still no pods would set.

    There has to be something I wasn't doing correctly and would appreciate the assistance in setting some pods!
  2. Reyna

    Reyna Orchid Obsessed Supporting Member

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    Arkansas, USA
    Yes, please. I tried on mine as well without success.
  3. theLab

    theLab Member Supporting Member

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    which species of Vanilla did you try to self?
    Vanilla planifolia x-self fails in almost all cases. It´s about the scar which is not ready accepting the plant´s own pollinia. Some species cannot be self-ed within this genus, some accept their own pollen.
    There are tricks to force a plant to accept the own pollen but what it takes here is the possibility of an intergeneric hybridism. As far as I am informed Vanilla could never be crossed with any other orchid-genus. And that makes it difficult.
    I think to recall correctly that a self-x of planifolia never resulted in any viable seeds, some other species of Vanilla can be self-ed (more or less sucessful).
    I can only offer you some basic hints to increase the ratio that the own pollen will be accepted (but which doesn´t implicate to obtain viable seeds later !):
    * "dissecting out the rostellum" ... likely wrong! Never damage the flower you are intenting to self. Not even lift the anther-cap and take the pollinia, provided you dispose of pollinia from another flower.
    * in most books you will read that the flower has to be pollinated as soon as possible. That´s correct for an intended out-cross but not for a self-x. For self-ing a plant wait as long as possible because initially the flower is ready to accept the pollen of a second clone to give way for the genetic diversity of the species. The self-ing mostly is the emergency-way what means in the early stage the own pollen is blocked, whereas in the progress of time it will be rather accepted.
    * the pollinium shouldn´t be too fresh. Fresh pollinia carry a thin layer of a liquid covering the pollinia. Most orchids aren´t impressed by that, but some are - recognizing that it is about a fresh pollinium which likely will be of the own plant - thus it will rather be neglected. If you have the chance ... harvest the pollinium, wait at least a few hours and then press it onto the scar. You can conserve the pollinium by freezing either. It keeps for months, if not for years or even decades.
    * "Dupe the plant" (regrettably this doesn´t work with Vanilla as - as far as I am informed - no intergeneric hybrids are known so far [correct me if I am wrong]
    Example: you have an Aerangis you want to self and it doesn´t work what often happens. Take its pollinia and take the pollinium of a genus you know that a cross will reliably work like ... Angraecum. In this very case for instance take pollinia of Angraecum sesquipedale or scottianum ;). Press both pollinia onto the scar side by side. Orchids are ... sorry ... bitches longing for everything which is different, new and "excited" to them. The plant will be readily pulling the Angraecum pollen to the ovaries. And in most cases the x-self-Aerangis pollen will follow hidden in the slipstream. In the best case it results in 2 sorts of seeds within one (!) pod:
    Aerangis x self AND
    Aerangis x Angraecum
    Sowing will be the next step and you soon soon will be able to distinguish the seedlings of the hybrid from those of the Aerangis x self. That´s why we take crosses with a partner carrying terete leaves like scottianum or a large plant like sesquipedale stands for.
    *confuse the plant by taking two sorts of pollinia - the own one and a pollinium which will never work to result in a successful pollination like Vanda x Dendrobium.
    * a next method works reliably but is difficult to manage for hobbyists. Ntl let me explain it to you. Take the pollinia and ... put them onto M&S-medium. Yes it´s the anther-culture and it works (with some additional tricks). It results in obtaining haploid-pseudo-protocorms. In early stages you care for a cell-fusion but what is rather simple doing it with plant-cells compared with human cells. The resulting plants are supposed to be in-fertile as the female chromosomes are missing as far all/most or just some orchids dispose of female sexual-chromosomes.
    * learn German as it will be easier to me explaining things then as the specific terms in English are regrettably missing ;)
    lepetitmartien likes this.