Hand pollinating vanilla orchids

honugirlhawaiiJuly 15, 2012

After three years I finally have blooms! I watched a few "how-to" videos but I haven't found one that clearly shows the process. I'd appreciate advice from anyone who has tried this.


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James AKA lumpy_j

I've done it a few times. I used a wood skewer to collect the pollen. Hold the flower so it is facing up and you are looking down at it, this way if the pollen falls off the stick it will be easy to pick up again. The flower doesn't open very wide so use your thumb and pointer finger to spread it open. Place the skewer below the anther cap and pull up toward you. The anther will flip up like a hinge leaving the yellow pollen sac on the skewer tip. Under the anther cap is a bump called the stigma. Put the pollen on the stigma. I attached a photo of a cattleya showing how to hold the flower.

I've seen people pull off the flower petals to make it easier to see inside. I've always had trouble getting the pollen to stick to the skewer, I like to wet the tip of the skewer a little to make the pollen stick better, if you have one of those clear blobs of sugar on the flower stalk you could roll the skewer in it to make it sticky.

Hurry up the flower is only open for one day!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 7:17PM
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Hand pollinated two orchids this morning. Well, at least I think I did.
Thanks for the instructions and great tips Lumpy_I.
I'm crossing my fingers for a vanilla bean harvest.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 3:42PM
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James AKA lumpy_j

The beans are another problem altogether.

Last year I got about 20 beans, it took about 10 months for them to ripen. I haven't figured out how to cure them yet. I did manage to get a few that turned out OK, I put them in a bottle of Absolute for a month. It tasted pretty good.

You may have better luck in Hawaii, New Jersey isn't known for it's vanilla production.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 7:28PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Good luck with the procedure besides the difficulty of pollinating there's also the problem of curing the pods. You'll figure why vanilla is so expensive?? lol
Interesting that while native to mexico madagascar is the largest commercial producer .Would love to tour one of those farms .Can't imagine how it's done on such a large scale?? gary

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 6:29AM
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