Monday, January 19, 2009

Creating Schlumbergera hybrids

Holiday Cactus. Obviously, I don't need more of them, but it's interesting trying to see if I can create hybrids and grow them from seed. I transferred pollen among the 3 colors that I had blooming at the time, red, pink, and white. According to various web sources, most are self-infertile, so hybridization is necessary in order to get fruit - and then seeds.

I wonder, what is the advantage to the species to be self-infertile? Some plants are self-fertile, and others are self-infertile. It seems like it would take a special mechanism to become self infertile. I suppose that 'enforced' genetic exchange might result in hardier plants due to mixing of genes, and also result in faster transfer of beneficial genes throughout a population.

Another possiblity is that since the modern varieties are all hybrids, the pollin-producing mechanism and the pollen-receiving mechanisms might originate from different, incompatible species, so another plant with matching mechanisms is needed from a different hybrid. Again, this is just a wild guess.

I pollinated these 2 or 3 weeks ago. Each was pollinated from another variety of a different color.

Here is a web posting about hybridizing and growing Schlumbergera from seeds.

Here is a posting on the gardenweb, with some individual challenges and successes.

It's interesting that the young fruit of the white-flowered variety is not pigmented, so is green.

And the pink variety is a bit more pigmented than the white one.

And the red-flowered variety has the darkest fruit pigmentation as well.

Now comes the long wait. According to some sources, it can take a year for the seed to mature, then 2-3 years to obtain flowering plants from seed. Faster than Clivias, which take a year for the seed to mature and up to 7 years to bloom. But patience is still needed. And luck.


  1. Sorry to comment on an old blog post but I was curious to know how these came along. :)

    I've pollinated my plants and have had seed pods. So far I've had bad luck. I planted seeds of one pod and little ones would grow but they would die off before ever establishing themselves.

    But I'm not giving up. Last winter, I pollinated tons of flowers so I got a handful of pods swelling on the plants. More seeds to play with.

  2. You might want to see this forum that has several Schlumbergera growers Epi-Cacti Forums