The question of how to cross pollinate is a common one. But before learning how to, it’s best to learn what it is. Cross-pollination is not only exclusive to bees! It is a process of transferring pollen from the anther of one flower to the stigma of another flower. Cross-pollination can be used intentionally to create unique varieties of plants and vegetables.
What is cross-pollination
When one plant pollinates another variety, the two plants genetics combine to create a new variety. This new variety shares characteristics from both plants. A popular cross-pollination is for tomatoes, to create new and better varieties. This is intentional cross-pollination but it doesn’t always happen this way. In some instances, external forces play a hand in cross-pollination, like the wind or bees, carry pollen from one variety to another.
Common cross-pollinate misconceptions
Unlike flowers, not all plants can cross-pollinate easily. Cross-pollination within vegetables is less about the pollen, and has more to do with the species. For example, a cucumber could not cross-pollinate with a tomato as they are not the same species. But, it can happen between a broccoli and cauliflower.
Secondly, that the current harvest has been affected. This isn’t possible. Cross-pollination only affects the fruit of any seeds planted from that fruit. If think your harvest looks odd then it might be worth exploring other options such as pests and diseases before jumping to conclusions.
Cross-pollination can be controlled, it just requires some extra steps. The easiest method is making sure to only grow one species in the garden as cross-pollination is unlikely to happen. If you want to grow multiple varieties you should determine if the plant you are growing is self pollinated or wind and insect pollinated. You can eliminate the chance of cross-pollination by planting different varieties of the same species at least 3m apart.
Whether is it intentional or not, cross-pollination isn’t always a bad thing. Your plants remain unaffected and you might even create a new variety that grows better and stronger than ever.
Looking to attract wildlife to the garden but not sure how? With some pollinators in decline in recent years (moths and butterflies), it’s more important than ever to transform our gardens into a pollinator-friendly haven. To help you liven up your garden, take a look at some of our favourite wildlife flower combinations for planting inspiration.
A romantic border
Are you a fan of pink and purple flowers? Then this romantic colour combination is the perfect choice for you. White Asters, purple Pansies and pink creeping Phlox are a match made in heaven for bees and butterflies. Plant and watch your garden become alive with pollinators in the summertime.
Hot, fiery flower beds
Bring the summer heat to your beds and borders with this sunny combination. Rudbeckia are bee-friendly superstars in the flower world, so try pairing flaming red Rudbeckias along with cheery yellow Coreopsis for the ultimate pollinator-friendly flower bed.
A serene white border
If you’re a fan of a more subtle look, keep it clean with white flowers. The pure, brightening effect of white flowers is a great way to make smaller spaces look and feel bigger. For the ultimate white wildlife combination, plant white lavender as the focal point of a flower bed or border, and underplant with fragrantwhitenemesia.
Who doesn’t enjoy seeing butterflies and bees in the garden? There has been a decline in the UK’S wildlife populations in recent decades, with studies stating a decrease of up to 60%, but there are ways to combat this issue in our very own gardens.
With these simple steps, it couldn’t be easier making your outdoor space attractive to pollinators, birds and mammals. Here are our easy tips for creating a wildlife haven in your garden.
1. Choose the Right Flowers
Flowers provide an excellent source of pollen and nectar for bees, butterflies, moths, and other insects. Here’s just a small selection of our favourite nectar-rich summer blooms to attract an array of pollinators.
Centranthus ruber coccineus
A cluster-forming perennial. This easy to grow plant blooms with stunning tiny pink flowers that are adored by butterflies and bees. Great for borders.
Some shrubs can provide a diversity of food and shelter that will certainly attract a range of birds, such as greenfinches. Plant these wildlife-friendly shrubs and watch as the number of feathered visitors in your garden will grow each year.
Pyracantha ‘Golden Charmer’
A mesmerising shrub. With nectar-rich flowers in the spring and golden berries in the autumn, ‘Golden Charmer’ is a haven for a myriad of wildlife.
Otherwise known as Callicarpa, this eye-catching shrub provides endless interest with their lilac summer flowers followed by vibrant metallic-like berries in the autumn. A valuable food source for birds.
A pristine lawn may look pretty but they do nothing for nature. Add a pile of old rocks, bricks, and tiles in a quiet corner of your garden to provide a sanctuary for many species of insects and small mammals and encourage biodiversity.
4. Set up Bird Feeders
No matter what season we’re in, a bird seed feeder is such a quick and easy way to help your local feathered friends. If you’re feeling crafty, you can build your own from scratch. Try upcycling food tins or plastic bottles (a great activity for kids!), then pile on a variety of food (peanuts, seeds or fat balls) to give your gardens a boost of life.
5. Add a Water Feature
Liven up any dull space in the garden with a pond. A small, ornamental pond is easy to build yourself and is a great way to attract a variety of wildlife creatures to the garden. If you don’t have the space to build a pond, large pots or upturned bins work too!
6. Start Composting
Not only is composting a great way to lower your household waste, it is also an excellent source of food for wildlife! The community of minibeasts who live among the waste help the decaying process, and in turn, these beasts are a delicious food source for hedgehogs and other animals.
#NationalPollinatorsMonth in June encourages the planting pollinator-friendly gardens with pollen and nectar-producing plants. When these gardens bloom, they attract bees, birds, bats, and other natural pollinators.
Woody shrubs provide food, shelter and breeding spaces for our wildlife. Nesting birds and hibernating insects make their homes in them and insects like butterflies use them as natural windbreaks. We have some great recommendations for shrubs that can make great habitats for wildlife in your garden.
Winning the RHS Garden Merit Award, Orange Glow is a sturdy evergreen shrub that produces spring blossoms and bright orange berries in the summer. This shrub provides nesting for birds and an abundant source of pollen and food for bees.
This vigorous deciduous shrub is smothered with large, fragrant, pompom-like clusters of white or pale green tinted flowers every May and June. Purple foliage appears autumn when vibrant red berries, which provide an excellent food source for the birds.
A true ‘wildlife hotel’. Bring a profusion of vibrant colour to the summer garden with the Honeysuckle plant. The sweet, heady scent carried on a warm summer breeze is one of the most delightful experiences of the season, and the scent is strongest at night, which attracts pollinating moths.
A must for wildlife lovers. Also known as the ‘Butterfly Bush’, this Buddleia’s beautiful cool violet-blue blooms produce a lovely honey fragrance that is guaranteed to attract masses of butterflies and bees.
Awarded the RHS ‘Perfect for Pollinators’ Award, this fantastic dwarf-growing shrub is certainly a wildlife haven. Weigela Pink Poppet is a long flowering variety that will attract a range of pollinators, from bees, butterflies and other nectar loving insects.
This variety produces small white flowers renowned for their vanilla aroma. After flowering, this compact and hardy shrub will also yield an abundance of shiny black berries that birds love, making it the perfect plant for a winter wildlife garden.
As the name ‘Constant Cheer’ suggests, this exquisite hardy perennial produces long lasting prolific orange red flowers that mature to purple. This creates an amazing multi-coloured flowering feature plant that is highly attractive to bees, butterflies and other insects.
Winner of the RHS Garden Merit Award for their reliable performance, stability of colour and form and good resistance to pests and diseases. This fantastic shrub is perfect for attracting bees into the garden, through their heady fragrance.
This upright deciduous shrub produces dense clusters of sweetly fragrant, light pink and white panicles over attractive heart-shaped foliage from late spring into early summer. When in bloom, the gorgeous flowers will bring butterflies to your garden.
The ideal border perennial with an abundance of star shaped flowers. Gaura Whirling Butterflies pretty free-flowering white flower spikes, which resemble a fluttering butterfly, and also are handy for attracting beneficial insects to the garden, such as bees.
When planting for nectar, avoid double flowers or sterile varieties that limit the feeding opportunities for insects.
Select suitable plants for your garden’s conditions.