Questions on Neo propagation

neonutDecember 3, 2006

Several months back I found 2 full seed pods on one of my neos. I removed them, squashed out the seeds and planted them in a container. About a week later I had hundreds of small plants.

Encouraged by this result I madly rushed around exchanging pollen on every neo flower in sight.

I then read several postings on this forum, mainly by Lisa, on what I should be doing. (I took hdd's advice and printed out this information for future reference. Much better than any other info I have read on the subject.) For the last fortnight I have been following this informed advice. Now the centres of my flowering neos are starting to look like pincushions with all the little plastic tags sticking up.

This brings up my first question. Does it matter how many flowers on the one neo I treat or should I only do a few?

Also with watering does it matter if the wells of the treated plants are filled with water while the seeds are being formed?

We had a summer storm last night which filled the wells. I emptied the water out this morning so the flowers would be dry for me to work on tomorrow? Have I done the right thing here?

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Yup, sounds like you're using your head, neonut! ;-)

The only problem with water in the cup is if the floral parts you're working with get wet. Wet pollen won't work, and I suspect a wet stigma is not too good either. Dumping the cups out the night before and putting them in a dry spot will make them easier to work with in the morning. The rest of the time, however, water in the cup is fine. I'm not sure how long it takes for the pollen to "take", but I try not to water anything for at least an hour after I've pollinated it, or just wet it around the base and in the lower leaves. I don't like to leave them dry for too long, though. I don't know, a dry cup just seems wrong to me, even if the roots are getting watered.

As to how many to do, that is something that depends on a lot of factors, not the least being how much space you have to grow them all out! I usually figure that if I get two big berries full of seeds for any given cross, that is more than enough to give me a large population of seedlings to choose from. You never know if they're going to take, though, so you might want to repeat a particularly desireable combination a half dozen times. Doing it both ways will increase your odds of set (in case one parent sets seeds better than another), but I've never seen any significant differences in the resulting offspring. Some people swear that the seed parent weighs more heavily in the genetic mix, but I haven't found that to be true (except when you start monkeying around with variegation).

    Bookmark   December 3, 2006 at 9:20PM
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Thanks Lisa, much appreciated I can now carry on with more confidence. I will add this latest post to the others I have of yours on Neo propagation. It should be essential reading for the beginner like myself.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2006 at 10:32PM
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bihai(zone 9)

This may be a dumb question, but, what does a neoregelia seed pod LOOK LIKE? I can't imagine that with all the neos I have I have never had a plant undergo "accidental" pollination by bees or butterflies, but I have never seen anything I would think of as a seed pod. Can someone post a photo?

    Bookmark   December 4, 2006 at 5:01AM
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Hi bihai, Maybe I should not have called them pods in my post. Lisa called them berries in her reply so that is sure to be the correct term as they are not hard as a pod would be.

In the photo the flower buds are in 3 stages - after flowering(on the outer), flowering and still to flower(towards the centre with more green). Each is a potential pod or berry.

If pollination is successful the seeds will form down below the flower in a kind of sac which will swell. when ripe you can remove it by pulling it gently by the top. Sorry, I don't have a picture of a single berry, I don't have any ripe at present.

I'm sure I've only confused you more. Hopefully a more knowledgeable person will come to the rescue.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2006 at 7:45AM
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Pods, berries, doesn't matter what you call them, but to me a pod is hard, dry and splits open whereas a berry is soft and juicy. Memebers of the Tillandsioides and Pitcairnioides have hard pods and the Bromelioides (of which Neoregelia is a member) have juicy berries. In addition the Tillandsioides have bits of fluff attached and are wind-dispersed, but the Pitcairnioides don't. The 3 tribes are pretty distinct.

This is what my Neos look like after I'm done pollinating them-- billboard city!

If everything goes according to plan, every flower with a tag in it (and ONLY those flowers) will form a berry, while the rest will rot away:

Even if you can't see the berry, often the sepals of the ones that took will remain fresh and green while the others fade (although this is not always the case):

In some cases, as with Neo. olens and its hybrids, the sepals turn red. In other cases, such as Neo. johannis and compacta, the berries themselves will be red, but usually they're white. I didn't pollinate this one so something must have gotten to it, but I wouldn't be surprised if there's only one or two seeds in each one. I usually don't bother with these unless I *really* like the mother and am willing to adopt all of her illigitimate offspring.

In this one you can actually see the ripe berry in front, as well as the green sepals of another one in the rear that took (the one to the right of it may not have):

When it's ripe it should pop out easily when you give it a tug. If it resists it's not ready.

With many varieties, though, the throat is too tight to see what's going on, and the sepals all look the same, so the only way to know what you've got is to keep testing them and see if they come out. It should take @ 2-3 months for them to ripen.

If you see all of them ripen up whether you pollinated them or not, then you know you've got a self-pollinator. I forgot that this one was a S-P when I pollinated it, so I don't expect the crosses to have taken. I'm actually surprised that the tagged ones are setting up too-- usually with a S-P they'll all be fat EXCEPT for the ones with the tags in them! There's no way to know this beforehand unless you've observed its habits in the past.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2006 at 9:00PM
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NOW this goes in my book of Do's
applause to LISA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Bookmark   December 4, 2006 at 9:17PM
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Gee, maybe I should charge a consulting fee! ;-)

    Bookmark   December 4, 2006 at 10:45PM
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Hold classes and charge a nominal fee. I would attend if i lived there. :)

    Bookmark   December 4, 2006 at 10:50PM
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I'm with hdd, if you held classes I would be in the front row with my notepad ready. That was really great. Loved those photos. Thanks Lisa

    Bookmark   December 5, 2006 at 6:40AM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Six years later, I would like to also add my thanks. This was a gift that keeps on giving! I learned SO much!


    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 12:04PM
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