Cogitating Cryptanthus Coitus

That alliterative post title took a lot of searching on, so I do hope that it's appreciated over the less lyrical "Planning On Sexing Up My Cryptanthus."

Regardless of the title, if the topic makes you uncomfortable, blame the plants--they're the ones with all of their reproductive desires being put on display for any passer-by to behold!

Personally, I'm excited when plants decide to strut their stuff, because I usually choose to believe I'm doing something right for them--I view it as my reward for treating my plants right. Lately, I need a little bit of positive reinforcement, what with all the mealy bugs (which I mentioned), spider mites (which I didn't mention recently, but I've had for years), and aphids (which I also didn't yet mention, but really? In winter? How the heck did they get in?) I've had to deal with in the past few weeks.

So, thank you, Cryptanthus cf. bromelioides, for deciding to grace me with your sex organs! I have had this plant for only three months--I'm not even sure whether it has roots. But, it's flowering, and maybe I'll pollinate it somehow? A Google search yielded a few discussions of cross-pollinating Cryptanthus and bromeliads in general, but I can't find good detail in any one location, which is something I've come across often--it seems that growers either don't publicly distribute such information or they keep it in difficult-to-find websites or (gasp!) in books! I just think I don't know where to search for this, because I'm certain someone out there has written a tour de force on sexual propagation of Cryptanthus for the slightly eccentric, experimental, plant-torturing home gardener. The information I have found so far indicates that Cryptanthus are likely self-fertile, so I won't need a second flowering plant in order to pollinate this one; flowering can last a few weeks, although individual flowers may last only a few hours, if that (probably open for business in the morning); probably a paint brush is fine for pollination; the flowers in the center, which will bloom first, are likely all male, but the flowers on the bottom of the inflorescence are likely mostly perfect (so, both male and female), so I might be able to self-pollinate those ones (but the all-male flowers may have "better" pollen than the pollen in that of the male/female flowers--not sure on what this claim is based); stamens from the male flowers might be able to be preserved in a glass container in the refrigerator for a time without losing viability of the pollen (but for how long? In order for that to be a boon, it would have to be greater than one day, at least, unless you were intending on crossing different species that bloom at different times of day--so, save the stamens for just a few hours to pollinate a second plant that blooms later that same day); fruit/seed maturation can take from one to six months depending on whom you believe and which species you have, but seeds should be planted within one week (my personal jury is out on that one--I have doubts that seed that takes such a long time to develop could lose viability so quickly. But, then, I guess it depends on the environment--in nature, wouldn't these plants be in higher humidity settings than the dry environment we usually tend to store seed in? They probably sprout while the fruit is rotting and attached to the mother plant. Or, as written somewhere that I read, ants [which purportedly enjoy the sweet, rotting flesh of Cryptanthus fruit] might carry the fruit [and its seeds] away to their lairs, helping spread the particular Cryptanthus species in question.); and once sown, seeds take just a few days to weeks to sprout, a few months to get to respectable size, and one to three years to reach flowering size again.

...And after all that, I clicked through a couple of links elsewhere and ended up on GardenWeb, where all my questions were pretty much answered, both with pictures and words. Most of the assumptions I gathered from various sources were pretty much confirmed, and getting these things to reproduce sexually doesn't seem to be all that difficult (no vibratory foreplay required, at least).

In anywhere from two to seven months, I'll post about whether I harvested any fruit!

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2 Responses to Cogitating Cryptanthus Coitus

  1. Hopefully you get some fruit! Have you tried using Gimp for image editing? It's free and open source. Good set of basic features by default but a tonne of plugins to add whatever you want.

  2. Aaerelon, I currently use Gimp. It's not bad, but it doesn't seem to have the... Mmm... "finesse" of previous programs I've used. Mostly, now, I just use it to reduce image size or lighten/darken things that are horribly lit. It might just be that it's not software that's familiar to me and I just need to get used to it, however--I also didn't know about plugins, so I should maybe check it out a bit more deeply!


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