Cross pollination happens when the pollen of one flower is placed on the stigma of another. This can happen accidentally, with the aid of wind, water, insects, birds, or other animals, or a person can intentionally cross pollinate two plants to produce a new variety. The genetic material of the two plants is now combined and the resulting plant will have traits of both. Cross pollination can only happen between varieties of the same species, never between two different species.
In gardening this cross pollination may create desirable or undesirable results. The genetic hybrids produced by cross pollination often possess, “hybrid vigor” which is often helpful in warding off disease. However, hybrids may be composed of two species that create a useless plant product when combined. For example, I have grown cucumber and squash plants in close proximity. I saved some of the seeds and planted them this summer. The result was a very vigorous squash plant that produced large fruit. However, the actual fruit material was green, spongey, and frankly pretty gross. This is why many plant varieties like apples are not, “true to seed” and often produce unexpected results. In terms of apples these hybirds often have small apples with strong flavor ranging from the best apple you have ever tasted, to un-edible.
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