Need Hybridization Help w/ Cryptanthus

nobodyshero(8)February 26, 2010

Hi there. I have recently been setting up a nice plant & frog room for myself, and also with the hopes to start a business at some point down the line. One kind of bromeliad I'm really focusing on, and have gotten a number of starter plants of is cryptanthus. I really want to hybrid my own. I bet that feeling is just amazing. Anyways out of the first few cryptanthus I ever got I have two that are blooming. So I rubbed their flowers together, after they were married of course, and now am waiting. Here's where I need help:

I've heard you have to kind of tear the plant up to get where the seeds are. How do I do this, and how do I know if either one was even successfully pollinated? How long do I wait? I basically need to know everything.

I am pretty confident I did step one right: Rub the flowers together. But, as stated, I am just not really sure all that comes next.....

Also, when/if I do finally get viable seeds, what's the best to germinate them? In a container, like an aquarium, with a heating pad beneath it, and coco fibre as a growing medium w/ perhaps a little shredded sphagnum? What's their germination time? And how about light? 12/12?

Ok, any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

And I'm glad I found gardenweb, which was just today. So being here for the first time, I'll say hi too: HI!


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bromeliaddict(z6 MI)

Cryptanthus is just about the only genus that I've never had success with hybridizing. I'm not big into saving pollen like some growers are, so that's my own fault. It is possible to have perfect flowers, male flowers, and female flowers all on the same plant. However, there does seem to be a preponderance of male only flowers, so just rubbing two flowers won't insure that you'll get seeds!

Having said that, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you have success. Look for a berry to develop in the leaf axil at the base of the flower. It takes approximately 3 months for the fruit to ripen on Crypts. Look for signs of a swelling berry before that. Ripe fruit usually gets softer or changes color. You may need to use tweezers to remove the fruit and its seeds from the leaf axil. I've noted a link below on growing Neos. from seed. Cryptanthus seed will respond well to the same treatment. I follow the same basic procedure, though I start my seeds under flourescent lights. Bottom heat is helpful to start seeds during the winter months. You should see evidence of germination in 10-14 days. I keep the seedlings in sealed plastic bags for 4-6 months.

Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Starting Neo. from seed

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 2:51PM
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Tobias, it's a bit more complicated than just rubbing two flowers together, particularly with Crypts. Cryptanthus have two types of flowers, one with both male and female parts and the other with male only. You get the best results taking the pollen from the male-only flowers and putting it on the stigma (female part) of the perfect (male/female) flower. For some reason the pollen from the perfect flowers doesn't seem to work very well, maybe it's just there for looks! The best time to do this is mid-morning, but actual times may vary depending on where you are.

As for harvesting the seeds, you don't exactly have to tear up the plant, but you do have to poke around a bit with a sharp object. The berries will be nestled down in the leaf axils, kind of hard to see, and the only way to tell if they are ripe is to poke them and see if they are soft. They don't pull out the way Neo berries do, so you just have to dig around in there and extract the seeds. Each berry will only have a few seeds, and they will be fairly large.

I like milled and sterilized sphagnum (I buy the pellets you soak in water) as a seedling medium, but others here have had better luck with other media. Whatever works!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 2:52PM
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Hi Tobias,

It's great to welcome another new member to the forum and a prospective new hybridizer no less.

I'm sure you'll find this a very interesting and rewarding aspect of bromeliad culture which sometimes ends in disappointment, sometimes produces unexpected rewards, but is always interesting and stimulating.

As for your questions, I think Lisa and Chanin are the most qualified to answer your questions on Cryptanthus as they both have the "runs on the board" having previously bred and registered some beautiful hybrids (which can be viewed on the FCBS Photo Index).

Enjoy being a member, sharing your experiences with us, and who knows, maybe breeding some champions down the track.

"Long live the hybridizer"

All the best, Nev.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 3:32PM
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Hi Tobias (^_^)
To demonstrate what Lisa has mentioned,...

Selected a good seed parent plant, here is one of the most beautiful Crypt. on earth.

Crypt. 'Lisa Vinzant'

Now, the lady I just mentioned her name, Mrs Vinzant with her honey in hand,

Crypt. 'Ken Vinzant'

Well, 'Mr Vinzant' ready to be the best pollen parent plant now.

But you have to know first, which flower is your target!
Here are only male part flower.

These are both male & female part flowers.

They are able to occur on the same time, now you know which one, right?

You can use small paintbrush, thin prism or fine forceps to collect the pollen from male flowers.

Be careful ! someone will take your scene, bees and ants are around.

Now..put them with love on selected oozy stigma :^))

Dont forget to tag, who's the daddy.

If nothing wrong, seed pods will appear within month or so.

The fast food box, perforated at the bottom, filled with peat moss could be your seeding box.

And if you do the right thing, you will got a bunch of seedlings like this, in 5-8 months.

Ready to be potted individually.

One and a half year old seedlings.

May be you can win a lottery!

Good luck my friends...

Chanin, in wonder land (^_*)

    Bookmark   February 27, 2010 at 9:24PM
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Textual info AND visual info! You can't get any better than that! Is that an argyrophyllus Chanin? I can't get it to grow like that with out brown patches all over the foliage.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2010 at 10:14PM
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Three cheers, Chanin! Did you actually cross LV with KV? If so, I want to see the little Vinzants. ;-)

    Bookmark   February 27, 2010 at 10:30PM
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Thanks Chris (^_*)"

BTW, could you show me yours, I wonder if that brown patches came from fungal damage?

My biggest one, nearly foot C.argyrophyllus. dear Lisa.. not yet, because that's your business, Haa Haaa :^))

    Bookmark   February 27, 2010 at 11:21PM
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Hi everyone,

Well Chanin, what can I say? I knew you and Lisa would be able to help Tobias out, but never in my wildest dreams did I expect something as in depth as this.

This is a fantastic training tool for all would be hybridizers of Cryptanthus and together with the articles on hybridizing Neo's from Lisa's past post we almost have the complete works of hybridizing.

This is a great reference article and I will be printing it out and filing it with all the previous hybridizing notes and pic's from Lisa (Almost a complete book by now)

Thank's again, it's great.

All the best, Nev.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2010 at 1:36PM
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Here ya are Chanin.


    Bookmark   March 1, 2010 at 12:29AM
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Jeepers...either Ken is a monster Cryp or Lisa is very small!!!

Wow thanks for that Chanin great assistance to me.

Love that C.argyrophyllus. Must find one!



PS is there a way we can make this a sticky topic on this board?

    Bookmark   March 1, 2010 at 1:59AM
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Okay Nev, Lisa and I will have a book, "Long live the hybridizer" soon...Haa Ha :^))

From the pic, Chris, I think your plant need some more light, I grow mines under 50%
shade cloth. Though, this Crypt. seem to prefer much water, as other do,
but it's a kind of xerophytic succulent species that also need good air circulation too.

Hi Dennis, matter what's, we know Lisa has a very big heart (^_^)"

    Bookmark   March 1, 2010 at 2:48AM
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True Chanin!!!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2010 at 6:05AM
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Ha! Definitely not my favorite picture of yours truly, but it does show KV's impressive wingspan better than a solo shot. No, I am not small..... umm, let's just leave it at that.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2010 at 1:02PM
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Thanks for the tips Chanin! I shall let you know how it performs under your suggestions.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2010 at 11:11PM
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Thank you sooo much for all the help! I hadn't received a single e-mail saying I had any responses, as I thought I picked an option that said I would. Anyways, I came back to check, and my expectations have been exceeded!!

On to the plants:

I didn't take good note of the flowers before they were all gone, but if memory serves one plant was male only and the other had both. I'm sure some of you out there will know about these specific cryptanthus, and might know what sex they are, or if they're sterile. So with no further ado, here's what they were: A Black Mystic and a Nivea. I chose those two because they were the only two I have/had blooming and wanted to give it a whirl.

Although, I need to get my hands on one or two of those Lisa Vinzants. Beautiful!!

More about me and what I'm doing:

First off, I'm relatively a newbie. I've been into plants for a long time but only recently took it to the next level.
I'm just getting plant operation going and mostly focusing on Episcias in the Gesneriad family, and Cryptanthus. I also have a few different kinds of frogs. My dream is to support myself doing plants & frogs, which I love. I guess doing what you love for a living is everyone's dream.

Anywho, I've been stocking up on many different kinds of Episcias & Cryptanthus, as well as a few other bromeliads here and there. I'm always interested in expanding too, so if anyone has something real pretty I can purchase, that'd be great! I'm a student who works, so I'm not rich, but anything amazing & affordable I'd be interested in. Especially if it works in a terrarium.

I'm also open to more advice. If anyone has pictures, or better yet, video of them hunting for the cryptanthus seeds, I'd be ecstatic to see them/it.

Thanks again all!


    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 12:56AM
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Great work Chanin ,can't get better instructions than that and great plants ,just wonderfull this exchange you can get on G.W on anything needed for Brom growing /breeding .

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 4:48AM
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Your are all welcome (^_^) actually, most of you know that I jointed this board
few years ago, without anything in my head about hybridizing.

I've received many many useful things from all of you too, so as someone said..
"It's not where you are, it's where you want to be"

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 11:41AM
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Dear Chanin

Your instructions and illustrations are good enough to warrant a new book. Thanks for such a great lesson on hybridizing cryptanthus.

So, when can we put in our orders for the book entitled 'Long Live The Hybridizers'?

    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 2:59PM
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I think when is about Cryptanthus, Chanin is one of the best.

We should give to Chanin a book with his name, giving him thanks for their enriching contributions, support and benefits.

He always helps everyone.
He always impresses us with their photos.

Thank Very Much Chanin!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 4:24PM
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What a fantastic thread to help potential hybridizers of Cryptanthus. Chanin's pictures clearly demonstrate exactly what to do and what to look for as the seed pod ripens.

I have dabbled in hybridizing Crypts myself here in the northern part of the U.S. and have found that with my less than ideal conditions, it has taken about 3 months for the seed pods to ripen enough to harvest the seeds. Once I sowed them in a rich, humusy medium in a clear,closed container, they sprouted fairly quickly and I had almost 100 percent germination.

My growth is not as fast as Chanins again because my growing conditions and light are not perfect. But I have to say that it ia a great and rewarding experience. You never know what new and interesting seedlings are going to develop and that's the challenge and fun of it all.

I say, "try it, you'll like it" and I believe you will!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2010 at 7:46PM
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Hello to you all I have been looking for a blog like this for a long time,its a answer to a maidens? prayer!! I live in New Zealand, and have been a gardener all my life, belong to Brom group, but about two years ago, saw my first Cryptanthus and fell in love. I have a small collection and Im, slowly adding to it, as we in NZ seem to have a very small gene pool, plus at the moment Cryptanthus are not the flavour of the month. I'm in fear that we could loose all the Cryptanthus that are here!! Sooo I have been trying!!! to get some Cryptanthus seed from further afield, not getting much help. Is there anyone who could send me seed, I will pay all costs etc, it would be wonderful if someone could!!! Maybe if I could get some of the amazing Cryrpthanus I see I you grow, it would get people collecting them again, and all would not be lost. Thank you in advance dotel.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 7:40PM
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