As the bees and the wind rarely do their job pollinating desert roses, growers hand pollinate their own species. This creative art has led to many new, beautiful hybrids of adenium. You can do it too. Together let's see how.

Cross-Pollinating is not GMO

When we're pollinating between different adenium species, it is not gene modifying. It is simply a mom from Asia & a dad from America getting together.

Gene modification is when they extract a piece of gene from one specie & insert it into another. This is to make the new GMO stronger or more productive, with of course unforeseeable risks.

This is to say, it is totally safe doing pollination on your own at home or in your garden. The best thing of all is you get to name your new specie however you like.

Pollinating Guide: 7 Easy Steps (With Pictures)

This guide is put together by Dorset Horn Adenium. We think it's just so amazing that we need to share it with you. They put a lot of work into this & should get all the credit.

There are 7 steps from picking fresh flowers to getting the pollen in. We will see another method a little later. Let's now begin with step 1.

Step 1: Pick a newly bloomed flower

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The fresher the flower, the higher the chance of fertilization. Some folks even share that a flower of 1 or 2 days old is best for pollinating.

Step 2: Tear the flower

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They have done a very neat cutting job here, but you can tear the flower however you like. After tearing it up, you will see some hairy pink stripes & a white cone inside.

Step 3: Remove the anther cone

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Now, we remove one piece of the cone by tearing down the pink, hairy stripes. You will then see the pollen & stigma inside the flower.

Here you can see:

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The pollen is that little white grain. It's quite soft–like some tiny pieces of potato. Below that you can see the stigma. And right below the stigma is the receptive surface. This is the place where we will be transferring our little pollen to.

Step 4: Collect the pollen

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Use a wet-tip toothpick to lift the pollen up & collect it. This is the trickiest part because it's very tiny to see. Here is the pollen:

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When you've collected a good amount of pollen, it's time for the step we've been waiting for.

Step 5: Pollinating

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You can also swirl your toothpick around to make sure the pollen gets spread around the receptive surface. This helps higher the chance of successful pollination.

After this, all you need to do is to close the flower up with some tape or rubber band. Make sure no rain, snow or sun can inside. Place the plants in a shady area. And we can now begin the waiting game.

You've just seen the pollination within the same specie. If you like to do a cross-pollination, instead of dropping the pollen inside the same flower, you can just take that pollen to a flower of another specie.

The process is pretty much the same. After pollinating, you just need to close the flower & protect it from rain, sun, or snow. How about we check out another way to pollinate adenium, even without looking:

The paint brush pollinating method

The above method works well for folks with very good eyesight. But for folks with bad eyesight & shaky hands, there is another easier pollinating method. You can, sometimes, do this with your eyes closed.

You'll need:

  • A paint brush
  • Some water
  • Desert roses

What you do here is dip the paint brush in some water. After that, slide the brush inside the tube of a newly bloomed desert rose. Then, you swirl around & around like that Starry Night painting by Van Gogh (oh we are so irrelevant, please excuse us for a moment).

After swirling, take the brush out & repeat the same process on another flower. Using this method, you also need to close the flower. It can be done on the same or different species.

Here, you don't need to see where the pollen is to collect it. You don't need to tear the petals either. This is a randomness & probability in action. Some of the pollen will get on the brush & help pollinate the flower.

Here is a clear & easy-to-understand video on pollinating adenium if you would like a look:

After some swirling, close the flower up with tape. We can then exercise some patience to see which ones will eventually bear fruits. Also pick fresh flowers for better results.

Choosing adenium mama & papa

Some adenium mama don't match well with other adenium papa. Matching is possible to do, but from growers' experience the seed pod creation rate is low or the F1 generation is unstable.

Here are some adenium species:

Adenium species Characteristic
Obesum Average caudex
Arabicum Big caudex
Swazicum Uniform pink flower
Crispum Star-shaped flower

Arabicum doesn't seem to like matching with Obesum very much. It's challenging to get it fertilized & create seeds. Dr Mark Dimmitt, an adenium explorer, has had very little success with this cross. He did get one out of many failed trials.

For this reason, Arabicum is usually used in line breeding (not hybridizing) to create dwarf or semi-dwarf types that bloom heavily. After the pollination, the hybrid offspring gets the specie name/classification of the mother specie. Well, because moms always get to name the child.

Let's see some matches & their love/hate relationship:

Adenium match Success rate
Arabicum x Obesum Not very good
Obesum x Swazicum OK
Obesum x Crispum OK
Arabicum x Crispum OK
Arabicum x Obesum x Crispum Doable

The cross between Obesum (Red Everbloomer) x Swazicum (Boyce Thompson) creates this stunning Crimson Star:

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Beautiful red adenium hybrid by Mark Dimmitt | Source

Mark talks more about the successes & failures here:

What will the offspring look like?

This is an interesting & always exciting mystery like the black hole of the universe. If the plants are pure genes, then:

  • F1 generation will look like one of the dominant parents

When F1 is self-pollinated, then F2 generation will have:

  • 3/4 look like dominant parent
  • 1/4 look like recessive parent

For example, when crossing dark red x pink, we will get:

  • F1: either all dark red (dominant) or pink (recessive)
  • F2: 3/4 dark red & 1/4 pink

You will get more interesting combinations in practice with different characteristics like strong/weak caudex, stem strength, different blooming time, cold tolerance, etc. It's a great adventure to set foot on. Hopefully this has been helpful. Have fun with your creations & enjoy.

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