Tomatoes are a delicious and nutritious fruit that can be grown in your garden. If you want to get the most out of your tomato plants, you need to learn how to pollinate them correctly. In this blog post, we will discuss 9 different ways to pollinate tomatoes and why it is important to do so. We will also provide some helpful tips for gardeners who want to produce an abundant crop of tomatoes!
Importance of Pollination for Tomato Plants
Your tomato plants will only produce tomatoes if they are properly pollinated. Pollination is the process by which pollen is transferred from the male parts of the plant to the female parts. This transfer of pollen allows the plant to produce seeds, which are necessary for fruit production.
Tomato Blossom Basics
Luckily for us, every tomato plant contains both male and female reproductive parts. The male parts of the plant are called stamens and the female parts are called pistils. The stamens produce pollen, while the pistils receive the pollen. In order for pollination to occur, the pollen must be transferred from the stamens to the pistils.
Many gardeners assume that tomato plants will self-pollinate, meaning that the pollen will transfer from the stamens to the pistils without any help. Generally, this is true, especially with the help of mother nature.
But, this is not always the case. In some cases, the pollen does not transfer properly and the plant will not produce fruit.
There are a few reasons why this self-pollination may not occur. One reason is that the stamens and pistils may be located too far apart on the plant. Another reason is that the pollen may be unable to reach the pistils due to weather conditions or other factors.
Fortunately, there are ways that you can help your tomato plants to pollinate correctly. This will help ensure your tomato plants produce fruit, and we can greatly increase the yield of your tomato plants. By following the tips in this blog post, you can ensure that your plants produce an abundant crop of delicious tomatoes!
9 Easy Ways to Pollinate Tomatoes
Here are 9 super simple ways you can pollinate your tomato plants with basic household tools (or no tools at all!).
Lets Tomatoes Self-Pollinate
The first, most obvious is to do nothing at all and let your tomatoes self-pollinate. In most cases, your plants will be able to pollinate themselves without any help. You should end up with a modest harvest over the summer by letting nature take its course.
Shake them Up
If you want to give your plants a little help, you can try shaking them. This will help release the pollen from the stamens so that it can more easily reach the pistils. Just be careful not to shake too hard or you could damage your plants.
Use a Fan
With an extension cord and a fan, you could simulate the breeze to pollinate your plants. Use a low-powered oscillating fan and point it at your tomato plants. You’ll want to move it around periodically. Or, if your tomatoes are growing in containers, you can move the tomato plants to benefit from the fan breeze. The slight breeze caused by the fan will help to transfer the pollen from the stamens to the pistils.
Plant a colorful garden
Colorful flowers bring natural pollinators, like bees and butterflies, to your garden. Plant a variety of blooming flowers, such as Black-Eyed Susans, Coneflower, and Heliotrope. This is a great way to encourage pollination without having to do any work yourself! Plus, it’s a great way to add some beauty to your garden.
Use an Art Brush
You can hand pollinate your tomato plants by using a fine art brush to transfer the pollen from the stamen to the pistil. You’ll want to be very careful not to damage the delicate parts of the plant.
Use a manual toothbrush
Similar to an art brush, you can use a soft-bristled toothbrush to transfer the pollen from the stamen to the pistil. Just be sure to use a toothbrush that is clean and has never been used!
Use an electric toothbrush
Another popular way to hand pollinate your plants is to use an electric, battery-powered toothbrush. Place the vibrating head of the toothbrush behind the flower and turn it on. It will release the pollen for transfer to the pistil.
Do not use a high-powered toothbrush! You only need gentle vibrations to release the pollen.
Use a Cotton Swab
Cotton swabs, or Q-tips, are another great way to hand pollinate your tomato plants. Gently swipe the cotton swab across the stamen to transfer the pollen to the pistil. Be very careful not to damage the plant.
Keep a Hive of Bees
One of the more advanced ways to help fertilize your tomato plants is to keep a small hive of bees nearby. The bees will transfer pollen from the stamens to the pistils as they move from flower to flower. This is a very effective way to pollinate your tomato plants, but it does require a bit more work on your part.
BONUS STRATEGY: Use Blossom Set Spray
This is a commercially available product that contains plant hormones. It essentially tricks the tomato plant into producing fruit, even when natural fertilization has not occurred.
You might not get high-quality fruit out of this strategy, but it will produce fruit. They might be small, and potentially seedless.
How Often to Pollinate
If you’re using a hands-off strategy, like planting a butterfly garden or keeping a hive of bees nearby, then you don’t have to worry about taking action. Just let nature take its course.
If you’re going to try a hands-on strategy, then it really depends. Some gardeners hand-pollinate their plants two to three times per day. That sounds like a lot, but it should only take a few moments! At a minimum, you should use your pollination technique once every 2 to 3 days.
How often you pollinate will impact how many tomatoes your plants produce.
Why You Should Help Pollinate Your Tomato Plants
Simply put, if you help pollinate your tomato plants, you’ll grow more tomatoes. You could potentially triple your crop!
You’ll discover other benefits of pollinating your tomatoes as well. For example, you’ll have a greater variety of tomatoes. Tomatoes that are pollinated by hand often have a greater variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.
You’ll also be more aware of what’s going on with your plants if you spend a few minutes with them every day or every couple of days. You’ll notice any issues before they become serious problems.
Here are a few quick tips to help you get the most out of pollinating your tomato plants:
- Make sure your tools are clean
- Be gentle! Your plants’ parts are fragile
- Don’t pollinate when the plants are wet
- Be consistent
- Pollinate in the morning, when the pollen is most active
- Try to avoid touching the flowers with your hands
The Bottom Line
Tomato plants are relatively low maintenance, but if you want to maximize your tomato yield, you can help pollinate your tomato plants. Try one of these 9 ways to encourage your tomato plants to provide fruit!