When we see the first signs of spring we all get excited to start seed.…
If you are growing vegetables indoors then there is a very important step that you must take or your efforts to grow vegetables will be in vain. You have to learn how to pollinate indoor vegetables.
Luckily it is easy to learn how to pollinate indoor vegetables!
You have to pollinate!
Outside the pollen is transferred from one flower to another by wind and insects. Inside you have to do the work. Luckily indoor hand-pollinating is not hard.
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Why is pollination important?
Vegetables and many flowers need to be pollinated to produce seed. The vegetables that we eat are, for the plant, simply a way to produce the seeds to continue their life cycle. Every species has a need to reproduce, even plants.
So how does it work?
There are male flowers and female flowers. They have different parts and perform a different function.
I am sure there are lots of jokes here! I will leave those to you.
The male flower has a stamen that produces a sticky power, pollen.
The female flower has a pistol. The seeds, by way of fruit, is made at the bottom of the pistol.
The same plant, with few exceptions, will produce flowers of both sexes.
So your job as a pollinator is to take the polling from the male and put it in the female
How to tell a male flower from a female with a quick look
Here is an example of cucumbers from my garden.
A female flower will always have a stem that will look like a very small version of the fruit it will produce. While the male will have a thin plain stem.
Here is a picture of male and female squash. As you can see some flowers have the beginnings of a fruit and some are plain.
How to pollinate your indoor vegetables
It is a simple process to pollinate your plants.
This method will work for most vegetables. Any vegetable that has male and female flowers:
- Take a small paintbrush or a cotton swab.
- Touch the inside of the male flower gently to get the poll in on you swab.
- Then put the swab on the pistol of the female plant.
That’s all you need to do.
Do this several times as your flower grows to ensure a good pollen count.
Your plants will go on to produce their new seeds and our tasty fruit.
How to pollinate indoor tomatoes
Tomatoes grow a little differently. Tomato flowers contain both male and female parts.
To properly pollinate your indoor tomato plants you need to give the flower small but firm shakes. This will move the pollen into the correct spot. You don’t need to go into the flower or see what that the pollen has transferred. The flower is designed to drop the pollen correctly into place. The University of Maryland has a great article about tomato pollination in a greenhouse. It is worth a look.
To pollinate your tomatoes place your finger at the base of the flower, we’re the flower meets the stem. Make rapid flicking motions with your finger. This will move or shack the flower. That all you need to do.
A popular method to pollinate tomato flowers is with an electric toothbrush. Place the toothbrush at the base of the flower, where it meets the stem. Simply turn on your toothbrush and leave it on for a few seconds. This is an easy and effective way to pollinate.
How can you tell when and how to pollinate your vegetables
You should pollinate your vegetables as soon as the female flowers open. Many common vegetables will have a window of time of a few days in which it is most effective to pollinate. So keep an eye out for the female flowers and when they are opened.
Most plants will produce many more male flowers than female flowers. The male flowers are often fully opened well before you see any female flowers. This is normal. It helps ensure that there will be plenty of pollen available to continue the species.
If you see all female flowers with out any males then they may be unisex or self pollinating. It is a good choice, in that case, to use the same method as you would for tomato plants.
Let me know if you found this helpful.