Freezing Pollen

Here in Houston it tends to get too hot during the latter part of the bloom season to set seed. As daytime temperatures get closer to 90 degrees, the number of pods that form for each cross drops off. Above 90 I find I'm wasting my time making any more crosses. There are some really good daylilies that don't start blooming here until that time so in order to be able to use them in my hybridizing, I have to freeze the pollen.

I tried brushing the pollen on to Q-tips and freezing in empty film containers. It seemed like all the pollen stayed on the Q-tips and I wasn't very successful. I also tried using empty gel-caps but the high humidity here turned them into sticky, gooey mess. There had to be a better solution.

I used to wear hard contact lenses and one day I found one of the el-cheapo cases they come in from the optometrist. I immediately thought that this would make a great pollen freezing container if I could only get my hands on a quantity of them. The next day I dropped by my optometrist's office and one of the lab guys looked in a supply catalog and found some. I forget how much they cost me but I purchased a bag of 144 pair for fairly reasonable.

Lense case
Lens Case

They work great and they don't take up much room in the freezer. All I do is remove the anthers with tweezers and place 3 in one of these lens cases. Sometimes the anthers seem too long but after they dry they shrink. I leave the case open in an air conditioned room for 24 hours to dry. Then I close the lid and into the freezer it goes. Next year I just remove one frozen anther and the case goes right back in the freezer. After letting the anther thaw for a few minutes, I grab it with tweezers (reciprocating tweezers are real nice) and away I go. I have had excellent success with this method.

I also found a plastic box with lid that has 18 compartments. After trimming a little of the excess plastic off the lens cases (the plastic is relatively soft), they stack very neatly with 12 cases in each compartment. Doing the math, I store 648 anthers in a box that's 6.5" x 11.5" x 1.75".

Storage box
Storage Box

I probably should mention that I left a few in the garage (where it's hot most of the time) and they became brittle and the plastic would break. Most however remained in an air conditioned area except when frozen and I have been using the same ones over and over for years.