Difference Between Self and Cross Pollination (With Table)

Pollination is one of the important steps for plants. They follow different methods, and in some cases pollination, unintentional pollination can also happen. But it will lead to loss. The two most commonly used pollination methods are self-pollination, and the other one is cross-pollination. These two can happen in flowers and also in plants. 

Self vs Cross Pollination

The difference between Self and Cross-Pollination is that in self-pollination, the pollen transfer will be limited by the process. But in cross-pollination, the pollen can be transferred in large amounts without any limitation. The self-pollination process used to follow the inbreeding type, but the cross-pollination used to follow the outbreeding type. 

Self-pollination is a process that will occur in plants where the pollens will get transferred. There is a limit to self-pollination. You can’t keep on using self-pollination. Because that will result in bad growth. It will lead to plant tweaking when you do continuous self-pollination. This will affect the offspring’s quality. Sometimes defective characteristics will make the breed get eliminated. 

Cross-pollination will happen in plants with the help of pistils. Sometimes cross-pollination will cause some serious problems to the gardener where they wish to save their seeds from year to year. Unintentional cross-pollination will muddy your traits as well. You can also prevent cross-pollination by shedding the pistils earlier. You can do that either before or after to prevent them. 

Comparison Table Between Self and Cross Pollination

Parameters of ComparisonSelf PollinationCross Pollination
Pollen TransferIt will be limitedThey are transferred in large amounts
Variation of geneticsEither they don’t have, or they are decreasedThey are in increased form
Type of breedingThey follow inbreeding typeThey follow outbreeding type
New SpeciesNew species cannot be createdNew species can be created
PollinatorsThey require pollinatorsThey don’t require any pollinators

What is Self Pollination?

Self-Pollination is a process in which the pollen of a flower will be transferred to the stigma of the same or different flower. It will be sometimes transferred to the genetically identical flower. It can also be placed on another flower or the same plant. This kind of pollination happens in flowers where it will contain stamen and carpel. These stamen and carpel will mature at the same time. Once they are matured, they will be positioned so that their pollen will land on the stigma of the flower.

You can see this type of pollination in many plants, and some of the examples are wheat, rice, and potatoes. There are many other examples available, but these are some of the commonly used examples to describe the process. But remember that some plans which are self-pollinating can also be used for cross-pollination. They also can cross-pollinate themselves. Sometimes self-pollinating will be called bad.

Because the plant will result in bad breeding or the offspring won’t be healthy. Not only do plants can self-pollinate flowers can also self-pollinate. Some of the common examples to describe self-pollinating in flowers are Arum Lilies and some orchids. The agent that helps in self-pollination are birds, wind, water, and in some rare cases, the plants itself will self-pollinate. This happens when the self-pollination happens within the closed flower. 

What is Cross Pollination?

Cross-Pollination is a type of pollination where the pollen of one flower will be applied to the pistils of another flower. Here the pollination will happen with the help of insects and wind. One of the best examples to explain cross-pollination is cross-pollinating the tomato. In this example, the varieties will be cross-pollinated on purpose. In some other cases, cross-pollination will happen on purpose, and they will happen due to some external factors.

When you do cross-pollination, you will get both advantages and disadvantages. In the advantages part, Offspring’s will be more resistant and viable. You can have the possibility of getting newly desirable characters. You can easily maintain the crop yield in this process. Getting an undesirable plant is not a good process, and eliminating them is another headache. But it will help you to eliminate them easily. 

Some of the disadvantages of cross-pollination are since you have some distance barrier in pollination, the pollination will get failed. And the flowers which are in the process of pollination will have to depend on external agencies for their pollination. Your pollen will get wasted in excess. Sometimes undesirable characters will get introduced. It is also considered bad because the harvest will increase much. But cross-pollination will not affect the fruit flavor. 

Main Differences Between Self and Cross Pollination

  1. The transfer of pollen in self-pollination will be limited. On the other hand, in cross-pollination, they can be transferred in large amounts.
  2. In self-pollination, there will be either the variation of genetics that can happen, or they won’t be available. On the other hand, in cross-pollination, they are available in the increased form.
  3. Self-pollination will follow the inbreeding type. On the other hand, cross-pollination will follow the outbreeding type.
  4. In Self-pollination, you cannot create any new species. On the other hand, in cross-pollination, you can create new species.
  5. In self-pollination, they require pollinators for pollination. On the other hand, in cross-pollination, they don’t need any pollinators.


Both these methods are used by farmers for pollination. The main difference lies in this method is the type that is used for the pollination. Sometimes in this method, unintentional pollination will also occur. But there are some necessary precautions and measures available to stop them. Depending on the type of nature, you can act on them either before or after.

There are also advantages as well as disadvantages that will occur in this method. To avoid that, we should first separate which plant will go well with what type of pollination. So that discrepancies can be avoided in the future, and the plant yield will also be good. There are also some further types available in self-pollination as well. 


  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1439-0523.2002.00689.x
  2. http://pub.epsilon.slu.se/5693/
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