The first need is to collect fresh pollen, and then transfer it to another receptive stigma-hence the disposable brushes, available from Amazon, and very cheap-(no need to keep sterilising)- please note- a brush is only one of several ways that pollen can be transferred.
I have now discontinued the use of these brushes, and use instead the pollen collection hairs of the lower petal.
The reason being –the bristles seem to be too firm and can damage the stigma knob.(second photo)
Since compiling this post have bought some water colour brushes fine pointed and now using these as one can see the amount of pollen collected as sometimes the lower petal may not contain any or little pollen. It is also a much more precise method than using a petal I have discovered.
The second attachment shows the stigma ready for pollen, should ideally exhibit a “sticky” top to ensure pollen grains adhere, and the third attachment, a muslin fleece, covering selected plants housed in one of my greenhouses, to keep bees etc away from the naked stigma.
As the nectar tube is removed prior to crossing by removal of bottom bloom, not sure if this is warranted as bumble bees are looking for nectar and collecting pollen on the way, and as this petal also provides a landing platform for the bee seeking nectar.
Perhaps an inquisitive hover fly might just be interested.Or wind induced pollen perhaps?
The last an essential help for the hybridisers’ eyes no matter how good. Probably the most important part of this whole exercise.
The crossing, and preparation needs some care and timing, and I will be interested to measure the results-hopefully showing an attachment of the development of seed pods – on this site.
So far 22/6/11 seven crosses have provided seed, five crosses have failed. In all over 30 crosses made so far, and each time I am using a more refined technique. The failures were from the earliest crosses when my methods were poorer.
Kind thanks to the member of the NVPS who has kindly encouraged me in this venture based on his successful Florist types breeding adventures in the past.
An article” summarised “from letters that have been has generously sent to me will, hopefully, be published in the next NVPVS publication for the benefit of potential breeders ,plus my own success /failures and observations-so if interested in learning more about this practical subject- why not join the Society NOW ( details on contact page), and ensure that you receive the advice in order that you may start breeding your own flowers for posterity.
I have bred sweet peas to RHS AGM standard, some still in commerce, since the1970’s,(KERTONS still sell some of my raisings) and so have a fair amount of expertise, but this new venture uses different techniques, and so at present still very much a beginner, with an open mind.
In my view the Society needs MANY MORE KEEN members eager to start hybridising Florist violas and pansies to ensure a continuation of new and improved plant types and flowers from the current cultivars available.
Sadly more and more of the named Florist Fancy Pansy, Show, and Exhibition Violas, seem to be vanishing each season possibly because they are old, and repeated cuttings do not stem the tide of aging, so that unless more reliable newcomers are introduced these already endangered cultivars(plants like humans get tired with age) with their bank of genes going back hundreds of years will be lost never to return, and not able to be viewed by future gardeners.