freezing pollen

Asked July 24, 2016, 12:12 PM EDT

Can I freeze the male flowers from my squash plants for later use when a female flower appears?

Washington County Oregon

1 Response

Unfortunately, no.

Squash pollen has a very short life whether it's fresh or frozen. Details are here: “Influence of Temperature and Humidity on Longevity of Squash Pollen” http://cuke.hort.ncsu.edu/cgc/cgc06/cgc6-46.html

Squash plants develop male flowers almost exclusively early in the life of the plant, perhaps because the plant lacks an extensive root system that can support the important tasks of absorbing sufficient water and fertilizer required by developing fruits.

If later on, males are produced in preference over females the reason is that plant is stressed. Often such stress is a water shortage, which occurs when soil dries excessively prior to the next irrigation. Evenly moist soil is the goal.

Whenever both sexes are present, the male’s sticky pollen must be carried to the female by insects or by the gardener. (See “Fruit set problems in Squash …” http://vric.ucdavis.edu/pdf/fruitsetproblems.pdf) Some gardeners miss that opportunity because both sexes of flowers are open for only a few short hours on the day they open.