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How to Hand Pollinate

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How to Hand Pollinate

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Overview

Small vegetable gardens and fruit trees can provide plenty of fresh food for a family. In many cases, production of vegetable and fruits can be increased by hand pollination, especially in residential areas where the insect population is controlled. Some plants are self-pollinating. The flower contains the male and female parts and pollen needs to be moved from the male anther to the female stigma. These plants usually only need to be hand pollinated when grown indoors. Other plants create separate male and female flowers, either on the same plant or on separate plants.

Step 1

Identify self-pollinating plants. Look for both pollen-bearing anthers and the female ovary within the same flower. The ovary is a swollen structure at the base of the flower with a tube, the pistil, that comes up into the heart of the flower to gather pollen on the tips, the stigma. A link to a diagram of the parts of all three kinds of flowers is in the Resource section.

Step 2

Brush inside the flower with a small watercolor paintbrush. Brush the anthers to gather pollen, then brush down into the flower to transfer the pollen to the stigma at the tip of the pistil, in the center of the flower.

Step 3

Identify male and female flowers. The female flowers will usually have the beginnings of a fruit at the base of the flower. Male flowers have pollen-containing anthers on the tip of a thin filament. Male flowers do not contain an ovary. If male and female flowers are not open at the same time, pick the male flowers and hold in the refrigerator in a little water until the female flowers open.

Step 4

Pollinate during the heat of the day, when the humidity is at its lowest. When the flower petals curl back, allowing easy access to the pistil, the flower is ready for pollination. Brush the anthers of the male flowers with a small, soft watercolor brush to gather pollen. Move to a female flower and brush down into the heart of the flower to transfer pollen onto the stigma and into the pistil.

Step 5

Repeat the pollination process every second day until all flowers have closed.

Things You'll Need

  • Small watercolor paintbrush

References

  • EDIS: Hand Pollination of Squash and Corn in Small Gardens
  • Clemson Extension Services: How to Hand Pollinate Paw-Paws
  • Simply Hydroponics: Plant Pollination Process

Who Can Help

  • Parts of Flower Diagram
Keywords: hand pollinate, self-pollinating flowers, male flowers, female flowers

About this Author

Diane Watkins has been writing since 1984, with experience in newspaper, newsletter and web content. She writes two electronic newsletters and content around the web. Watkins has a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Clemson University. She has taken graduate courses in biochemistry and education.