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How to Preserve Orchid Pollen

By Frank Whittemore ; Updated September 21, 2017

Orchids, as a group, demonstrate remarkable diversity. This has made them something to be appreciated and cultivated. Thousands of different hybrids have been created, each with unique colors, shapes and patterns. These are the result of cross-pollinating two different orchids, each having desirable characteristics. Storing pollen from orchids can facilitate breeding and production. Pollen storage offers a method for producing hybrids from plants that may have different blooming habits or locations. It can also be used as a means of conservation, storing pollen for future use to preserve the genetic material of different unique and rare species of orchid.

Locate the column, the slender extension within the flower that holds the anther cap and the stigma.

Remove the anther cap from the end of the column using a pair of pointed tweezers and place it on a clean sheet of white paper.

Locate the pollinia on the anther cap. The pollinia are tiny packages that contain the pollen. There may be as many as eight pollinia, depending on the species. Ensure that the pollinia are brightly colored and not gray or discolored. Remove the pollinia using the tweezers.

Place the pollinia in a glassine envelope and label the envelope with the time and date of collection, the plant it was collected from and any other pertinent information.

Place glassine envelopes in a container along with a dessicant, such as a calcium chloride or silica gel packet, to keep the contents dry.

Store the pollen for less than three months at room temperature. Store for longer periods in refrigeration. The colder the temperature, the longer the pollen will last. Pollen shelf life is dependent on the species. For very long storage, place the collected pollen in cryostorage.


Things You Will Need

  • Pointed tweezers
  • Sheet of white paper
  • Glassine envelopes
  • Plastic container for envelopes
  • Desiccant package


  • Glassine envelopes can be obtained from sources that provide products for stamp collecting.

About the Author


In Jacksonville, Fla., Frank Whittemore is a content strategist with over a decade of experience as a hospital corpsman in the U.S. Navy and a licensed paramedic. He has over 15 years experience writing for several Fortune 500 companies. Whittemore writes on topics in medicine, nature, science, technology, the arts, cuisine, travel and sports.