- Controlling Cross Pollination – How To Stop Cross Pollination
- Can You Control Cross Pollination?
- Saving Chili Pepper Seeds for Growing Later
- Cross Pollination
- How to Save Chili Pepper Seeds for Growing
- Best Pepper Seeds for Saving
- Can You Save Seeds from Store Bought Peppers?
- Storing Your Dried Chili Pepper Seeds for Growing
- Additional Information
- Heirloom Expert: Avoid Cross-Pollination
Controlling Cross Pollination – How To Stop Cross Pollination
Cross pollination can cause problems for gardeners who wish to save the seeds of their vegetables or flowers from year to year. Unintentional cross pollination can “muddy” the traits you want to keep in the vegetable or flower you are growing.
Can You Control Cross Pollination?
Yes, cross pollination can be controlled. You need to take some extra steps though to ensure that cross pollination does not occur.
Prevent Cross Pollination by Growing One Species of Plant
One method is to only grow one variety of a species in your garden. Cross pollination is unlikely to happen if there is only one variety of a species of plant in your garden, but there is a very slight chance that a stray pollinating insect could carry pollen to your plants.
If you would like to grow more than one variety, you need to determine if the plant you are growing is self or wind and insect pollinated. Most flowers are wind or insect pollinated, but some vegetables are not.
Stopping Cross Pollination in Self-Pollinating Plants
Self-pollinated vegetables include:
Self-pollinated plants mean that the flowers on the plants are designed to pollinate themselves. Accidental cross pollination is more difficult in these plants, but still very possible. You can eliminate a significant chance of cross pollination in these plants by planting different varieties of the same species 10 feet apart or more.
Preventing Cross Pollination in Wind Or Insect Pollinated Plants
Almost all decorative flowers are wind or insect pollinated. Wind or insect pollinated vegetables include:
With wind or insect pollinated plants, the plants need pollination from flowers on other plants (either the same or different varieties) to produce healthy seeds. To prevent cross pollination, you would need to plant different varieties 100 yards or more apart. This is normally not possible in the home garden.
Instead, you can select a bloom that you will later collect seeds from the fruit or seedpod. Take a small paintbrush and swirl it inside the flower of a plant of the same variety and species, then swirl the paintbrush inside the flower you have selected.
If the flower is large, you can tie the flower shut with some string or a twist tie. If the flower is smaller, cover it with a paper bag and secure the bag in place with string or a twist tie. Do not use a plastic bag as this can trap heat around the seedpod and kill the seeds inside.
Saving Chili Pepper Seeds for Growing Later
Learn how to save chili pepper seeds from your garden-grown peppers so you can store them and use them to grow peppers the next season.
As a chili pepper grower, you may want to save the seeds from your current batch of chili peppers rather than purchase new seeds each year. Saving seeds also saves money, and ensures your harvest will include your very favorite peppers from season to season.
Luckily for us, chili peppers lend themselves to easy seed saving. Harvesting the seeds is a simple process, and they require very little effort to dry and store.
The only major issue to consider, however, is the possibility of cross pollination from other peppers in your garden. Pepper plants can cross pollinate, so if you do grow multiple peppers in your garden, you’ll want to take steps to limit cross pollinating.
You may be familiar with the idea of cross pollination in the pepper world with hybrid peppers, like many of the superhot varieties. The concept generally means that genetic material from one type of pepper plant will exchange with another.
This genetic variant will not show up in your current plants, but may show up in future generations grown from those seeds. This is a highly popular method for creating new pepper strains with new and interesting characteristics, such as thicker pepper walls or greater heat.
If you want the same peppers from year to year, it is best to not save seeds from cross pollinated pepper plants. If you are growing plants for seed, then grow them at sufficient distance from one another, or better yet, use specialized netting to protect them.
Note that not all chili pepper species cross pollinate. Annuum will cross easily with Chinense, sometimes with Baccatum and Frutescens, but not with Pubenscens, which generally does not cross with any other species.
If your goal is to grow seed and sell them commercially, you will need to isolate your plants by type and take steps to ensure no cross pollination occurs. If you are simply growing a home garden, you may not care what types of peppers you get, and it might even be fun to grow your own hybrids.
Regardless, the process of saving pepper seeds for growing later is the same.
How to Save Chili Pepper Seeds for Growing
First, cut into your fresh peppers to expose the seeds. Use only fresh, healthy, mature peppers, which is very important. Mature seeds are hard and dull white in color, where immature seeds are softer, bright, glossy white. Only mature seeds are viable for saving for future growing.
Next, clean and dry the peppers. Cut them open and remove the seeds. Some seeds are easier to remove than others. Bell peppers, for example, are quite easy, as the seeds are prominently located at the top of the pepper. Smaller peppers, including superhots, aren’t quite as easy to remove, though still aren’t that difficult.
There are techniques, such as finely chopping or processing the peppers then mixing them with water in a bowl, allowing the seeds to sink to the bottom, but use whatever is easiest for you, whether that is using tweezers or just chopping and removing the mature seeds.
Just be sure to wear gloves when handling hot pepper pods.
Next, spread the seeds out on a flat surface indoors and away from direct sunlight in a well ventilated room. There should be no humidity. Do not use paper plates or paper towels, as the seeds will clump and stick to them. Ceramic or coated plates work well, or even cups.
Allow to dry for 2-3 days, or up to a week. Shake or flip them each day to ensure even drying. They will be ready when a seed is brittle and breaks rather than bends when pressure is applied.
You can also use a dehydrator to dry the seeds, though temperature is very important. Do not exceed 95 degrees F. 85 degrees F is ideal for drying pepper seeds for growing.
Best Pepper Seeds for Saving
You can save seeds from younger pods, but you will have more success from ripe chili pepper pods. As a best practice, let some pods grow on the plant until they become fully ripe, and even start to wrinkle a bit.
Remove the seeds and dry them per the instructions above.
Can You Save Seeds from Store Bought Peppers?
Seeds saved from store bought peppers, like bell peppers and others, aren’t likely to sprout because of the picking timing and the way they’re grown. You can try it and the seeds might sprout, but it’s unlikely. It would be best to get viable seeds and grow them, then save those seeds from your own garden grown plants.
Storing Your Dried Chili Pepper Seeds for Growing
For longer term storage, store the seeds in airtight containers. Be sure to label them with pepper type and dates. For shorter term storage, many people use baggies or envelopes, which work as well. Store them in a cool, dark, dry place, such as your cupboard or refrigerator. The refrigerator is the best for storage.
These seeds will be viable for approximately 2 years, though it is best to use them within a year as the genetic material can degrade and the likelihood of non-sprouting increases with age.
Learn more about growing chili peppers here – A Guide to Growing Chili Peppers.
- Learn More about Preserving Chili Peppers
- Learn More about Growing Chili Peppers
- Check out our Chili Pepper Recipes
- Growing Chili Peppers from Seed
- Growing Chili Peppers in the Ground
- Growing Chili Peppers Indoors
- Growing Chili Pepper Plants in Pots
- Harvesting Your Chili Peppers
- Winter Gardening for Chili Peppers and more
Beans are self pollinating
Do you want to save your own bean seeds for growing next year? Do you want to re-grow the same fabulous beans next year that you grew this year? It may not be as easy to do with any other plant than the “bean bunch”… ya know why?
Beans are self-pollinating and rarely pollinated by insects. Bean flowers release pollen the night before the flowers open. The next day, as the flowers open, the anthers brush against the stigma and pollination occurs. So, even if you see insects on your open bean flowers, you can be fairly sure that pollination happened before the visitors arrived. For this reason, it is possible to grow bean varieties close together with little worry of cross-pollination if you are planning to save some of the resulting seeds. Bush beans can be grown closer together than pole beans, which should have at least 2 feet of separation. Runner beans and Lima beans are pollinated by bees and are more likely to cross-pollinate than other varieties, so would require more distance apart.
Heirloom Expert: Avoid Cross-Pollination
Letting crops cross also might create a new and improved variety. Anyone who has a compost pile loves the surprises which sprout up from the warm organic material. The plant might be unidentifiable, but could also be wonderful.
Once cross-pollination issues have been solved, the seed saving is pretty easy.
Open-pollinated varieties, like most heirlooms will produce seeds similar to their parents. Hybrid seeds will not. That’s why most seed saving is done with open-pollinated varieties. The only way to know the difference is to read the seed packet or plant label.
When I save seeds from any plant, I study the variety to see when and how it delivers seed. In most cases a plant flowers as a way to produce seeds and each one does it a little differently. When the plant is about to discard seeds, that’s when the gardener swoops in to collect them.
Part of the seed-saving experience is selecting the best varieties. For tomatoes we save seed from the first fruit to perpetuate earliness. For something like lettuce, the last plants to develop seeds is chosen. We want the plant which bolts last in order to select for that trait. There are lots of other factors to consider like production and vigor, and it’s fun to see which plants will produce the best seed.
I store my seeds in paper envelopes which are in turn put into airtight mason jars. The jars have a little bit of silica gel in the bottom to keep the environment dry. They are stored in a cool dark place until ready to be planted.
You’ll be surprised at how high the germination rate is. Most of my seeds are above 90 percent.
There’s a simple way to test seeds to see if they are still viable. Take 10 seeds and wrap them in a moist paper towel; put this into a plastic bag. Store the bag in a warm place and check to see how many seeds sprout after several days. If more than 50 percent germinated, keep the seeds; if it’s less, you’re better to start with a new packet of seeds.
Saving your own seed is a worthwhile endeavor. All it requires is a passion for learning from season to season.
Doug is the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Backyard Gardener and co-host of The Organic Gardeners radio program on KDKA.