Pollination Myths and Seed Saving
By Carl Wilson, Horticulturist, Denver Cooperative Extension
Popular myths allow that two different vegetables can cross in the garden and produce
"mutant" fruit. The vegetable that would be harvested is different than either
The truth is that when plants cross, characteristics are not expressed until the seed
produced by the cross is planted and produces a new crop. When field corn and sweet corn
cross, however, the kernel appearance and taste are altered the first year.
With this in mind, what vegetables will cross with what? Plants cross when pollen from one
plant is moved to the flowers of another by wind or insects.
- Cucumbers do easily cross with other cucumbers. They do not cross with squash, pumpkin,
watermelon or cantaloupe.
- Summer squash easily crosses with other summer squash and with pumpkin. Summer squash
doesn't cross with winter squash.
- Cantaloupes do not cross with cucumbers, watermelons, pumpkins or squashes.
- Tomatoes do not cross with potatoes.
If you want to save seed from your garden, the best plants are standard varieties of
beans, lettuce, endive, peas and tomatoes. Saving seed from hybrid varieties is not
advised since offspring will produce quite different vegetables.
Photograph courtesy of Judy Sedbrook.
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