How to Pollinate Tomatoes With an Electric Toothbrush

Overview

Tomatoes are typically pollinated by wind or the vibrations of the wings of bees that land on their flowers. Indoor pollination needs to be done by hand. Some indoor gardeners use bumblebees or a pollinator to pollinate their tomatoes. However, these solutions are costly and best suited to a greenhouse. An electric toothbrush works well for the indoor gardener that has just a few tomato plants to pollinate. The pollen of each flower pollinates the same flower when pollen is loosened from the anther to the stigma. Poor pollination can affect the size, shape and set of tomatoes.

Step 1

Select an electric toothbrush that has soft bristles on the brush. This will help to prevent damage to your tomato plants.

Step 2

Pick a sunny day when the humidity is at around 70 percent to begin pollinating your tomato plants. The humidity is important during pollination. If the humidity is too high the pollen will not release from the stamen of the flowers.

Step 3

Begin pollination by selecting a cluster of flowers on your tomato plant. Start between the hours of 10am and 3pm when the humidity is the lowest to get the best results. Turn on you electric toothbrush and place the bristles on the stem just below the flower cluster. There's no need to make any movements with the toothbrush because the vibration alone will loosen the pollen.

Step 4

Let the toothbrush vibrate for two seconds. Place your toothbrush on the backside of the petals of individual flowers gently and only for a brief second. Do not put the brush on the face of any flowers because this can cause damage.

Step 5

Continue to place your toothbrush on the stems and petals of each flower cluster. Use your electric toothbrush to pollinate your flowers every other day. Increase pollination in the winter months when sunny days are fewer to ensure pollination.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid brushing or touching any tomatoes in development while pollinating flowers. Tomatoes bruise easily during production, and this could cause scarring on your fruits.

References

  • University of Florida: Production of Greenhouse Tomatoes
  • University of Arizona: Pollination
Keywords: hand pollination, pollinating with a toothbrush, pollinating flowers

About this Author

Based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Robin Coe has reported on a variety of subjects for over 15 years. Coe is the former publisher of the politics and art magazine Flesh from Ashes. She has worked to protect water and air quality. Coe holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism with a double-major in international politics from Bowling Green State University.