Tomatoes rely on pollinators to transfer pollen between flowers. If you live in an area with a low pollinator population, then you have no other option but to master hand pollination techniques.
By taking matters into your own hands, quite literally, you can ensure efficient and effective pollination, leading to healthier and more robust tomato crops.
In this article, we are going to walk you through a step-by-step process on how to pollinate tomatoes by hand. So, stay tuned!
Tomatoes Are Self-Pollinating
Tomato flowers have both male and female parts, which enables them to self-pollinate. The pollen simply has to go from the male part of the flower to the female part of the flower. It is usually transferred by bees and other insects or the wind.
When you grow tomatoes in shielded areas that restrict airflow, pollination can be impeded. This is also the case when growing tomatoes indoors, where insects and wind can’t even reach your plants.
In one experiment, scientists found that insect pollination was significantly better than wind pollination – they covered wind-pollinated plants with a muslin cloth so that the insects were excluded and only the wind could pass through.
The remaining plants were left uncovered, which allowed free access for insects to pollinate the flowers.
Fruits from each treatment were picked on the same day and under the same circumstances when they reached full maturity and were totally red. The results demonstrated how crucial insects are to tomato crop pollination.
In addition, extremely humid conditions can also affect pollination because moist pollen is hard to transport. On the other hand, extremely dry conditions are also bad because then pollen has a hard time sticking.
You could also consider planting some tomato companion plants that can help attract pollinators and beneficial insects to the garden.
How To Hand Pollinate Tomatoes
Don’t worry, hand pollination is very simple, especially because tomato flowers have both female and male parts. The best time to pollinate tomatoes would be shortly after the flowers have fully opened.
They can be pollinated at any time, from late morning to early evening. Don’t do it early in the morning because the flowers are still covered in dew.
With proper hand pollinating techniques, you will get more tomatoes that are super delicious and juicy. So, let’s see how to actually do it!
1. Find Dry Flowers
Identifying the right flowers is crucial for successful hand pollination. Look for flowers that are fully open and have dry pollen. Male flowers typically have a slender stem, while female flowers have a small fruit at their base.
Don’t do it early in the morning or late in the evening when the garden is covered in dew. You also should avoid doing it right after rain – best to wait a couple of hours before hand pollination.
2. Move The Pollen
Now, all you have to do is simply tap your finger on the flower’s base to pollinate tomatoes – you don’t need any additional equipment.
It will help if the pollen grains fall on the female part of the flower. You can use a thin pencil for tapping the bases of dense flower clusters.
Some folks also gently brush the pollen onto the female parts to ensure good contact for successful pollination.
3. Repeat For 3 Days
This process should be repeated for three days straight. This increases the chances of successful pollination and ensures that each flower has a higher chance of setting fruit.
By mastering the art of hand pollination, you can overcome pollination challenges and improve the fruit set of your tomato plants. Enjoy the sweetest tomatoes at the end of the season!