HOW TO HYBRIDIZE &
HOW TO PLANT YOUR SEEDS
Welcome to the wonderful “club” of Hawai’i folks who first began hibiscus hybridizing in the 1870s!
THE HYBRIDIZING PROCESS:
Each hibiscus flower contains both the male (pollen/sperm) and female (stigma/pollen pads) necessary to create seeds. The new “hybrid” hibiscus which grows from the seeds created by your hybridizing efforts will contain approximately 1/2 of the genetic material from each of it’s parents.
1. Generously apply pollen from the pollen parent to the stigma/pollen pads of the pod parent. The flower whose stigma has been dusted with pollen is the “mother” and must remain on the plant for the cross to take. The best type of day to have a high success rate is an overcast or misty day. If you are making a cross on a no-cloud, hot day, you might consider lightly misting the pollen pads with a fine spray of water after you’ve made the cross, and if the plant is in a pot, turn the pot so that the flower is facing away from the sun, or put it in partial shade for a day or two.
2. Mark your cross with masking tape or bright construction tape. It is helpful to use an “industrial” permanent marking pen. Write your cross information as follows: Name of Mother X Name of Father, then add the date of the cross...i.e. Georgia’s Pearl X Faith 12/1/15:
Tie this just below the calyx (at the top of the stem) of the flower youʻve put the pollen on.
3. Several days after making the cross, the flower will fall off the plant. Let it fall off by itself. Inside the empty calyx, you will see a small bump. This is the ovary of the flower. If the cross has “taken”, the ovary will get larger and larger over approximately 4-8 weeks, until it fully ripens. Inside this ovary, if fertilization has occurred, miniature seeds are beginning to mature. At about the one month point, you can cut or tear back the top of the calyx if you want. Removing the calyx helps prevent small insects from chewing away at your seed pod. You can also enclose the maturing seed pod in fine netting to prevent the seeds from falling out if you don’t happen to check the pod on the day it opens. When the pod is mature, it will begin turning tannish one day, and the following day it will turn brown and open, revealing 5 chambers with one or more seeds in each chamber. These are now ready for planting, and the excitement begins!
PLANTING YOUR SEEDS!
1. Fully empty the seed pod in an area where there is no wind, and count the seeds. You will be planting up to 8 seeds per 4” pot. Therefore if you have a windfall of, say 25 seeds, you might consider planting 5 pots with 5 seeds each, or 4 pots with 6 seeds, 6 seeds, 6 seeds, and 7 seeds...no more than 8 seeds per pot.
2. Once you’ve determined how many pots you’ll need, prepare the pots as follows: The bottom 1/4 of the pot should be perlite, and the next 1/2 of the pot should be any well draining potting soil. Run water into the pot so that the potting soil is thoroughly wet.
3. Prepare plant markers for each pot. On the marker/tag, record the name of the pod parent (mother) X pollen parent (father), the date you planted it, and the number of seeds that pod will hold.
4. You do not NEED to nick fresh seeds. They may be planted “whole” onto the wet potting mix. However, it does not hurt the seeds, and may help germination, if you do choose to nick them. Consider using an Exacto knife or a single edged razor blade, and carefully nick the rounded part of the seed.
5. Place seeds on the wet potting soil (up to 8 per pot), and lightly dust dry potting soil over all seeds...perhaps 1/8” of “dust”. Spray/spritz with water to dampen the dust.
6. You will want to keep your pots damp during the germination process. You can do this by spraying/spritzing with water several times a day, OR you can fill a small bowl with water and let the pot sit (not immersed) in the water until you can see that the moisture has dampened the top of the soil.
7. The seeds will germinate in about 1-8 weeks. Because you marked the number of seeds you planted in that pot on your marker, you will know when most/all of the seeds have sprouted. Once these seedlings have developed 2 or 3 true leaves, you can separate the seedlings and plant into their own individual pots, using whatever planting medium you will use for the mature plant. We recommend a well draining potting soil, but you must amend it by adding 1/3 perlite or lava cinders to 2/3 potting soil. Hibiscus LOVE water but MUST have good drainage.