Although tomatoes are self-pollinating, they do need a certain vibration to release their pollen. This can be achieved through wind, by hand or by the special technique of the bumblebee. Attract bumblebees to your garden by providing a nesting spot and shelter from the elements and by planting their favorite flowers in and around your vegetable garden.
The best flowering plants to use are native plants which will create a balance in your garden that will support the bees. To encourage bumblebees to spend their complete life cycle close to your garden, plant a variety of native flowers to ensure blooms from early spring through late fall.
Plant an herb garden near your vegetable garden. Herbs are often perennial and should be planted separately from your vegetables which are annuals. You will need to till the soil of your vegetable garden and if you have herbs in your vegetable garden this could damage the herbs. Any herbs used for cooking are herbs which attract bumblebees. Chives, thyme, basil, lavender, sage and other salvias are herbs you can plant near your tomato garden to attract bumblebees.
Plant wild flowers and perennials in the herb garden near the vegetable garden. Bumblebees love roses. They are also attracted to great blue lobelia, wild lupine, lead plant, crocus, white wild indigo, partridge pea, hardy ageratum, goldenrod, cone flower, wild bergamot, clover, poppies, columbine, milkweed, butterfly-weed, Joe Pye weed, white snake-root, yellow giant hyssop, honeysuckle and lesser calamint. Heather and foxglove are used by bumblebees for nectar as well as shelter from wind and rain.
Annual flowers to attract bumblebees can be planted right in your tomato garden. They will die at the end of their season and will not be affected by the turning of the soil the following spring. Sweet peas, Indian balsam, geraniums, cosmos, zinnias and sunflowers are all annual flowers which will attract bumblebees.
Plant flowering fruit trees near your vegetable garden to attract bumblebees to your tomatoes. Bumblebees like the blossoms of cherry trees, plum trees and apple trees. Bumblebees will also be attracted to strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. Flowering vegetables can also attract bumblebees right into your garden and onto your tomato plants. The blossoms of peas, squash, gourds and pumpkins are all attractive to bumblebees.