How to Hand Pollinate Orchid Flowers


Exotic additions to your yard, orchids require special care to ensure their reproduction. For many varieties, hand pollinating can be the only way to get these flowers to produce seeds for new growth, especially in the absence of natural pollinators such as wasps or bees. One variety of orchid that benefits from hand pollination is vanilla, as pollination begins the growth of the coveted vanilla beans. Properly done, hand pollination results in moving the pollen from the anther on the flower to the stigma where it can fertilize the ovary to commence growth of the fruit of the orchid plant.

Step 1

Locate the column in the center of the flower where the petals meet.

Step 2

Gently lift the column with one hand and touch the flat side of the toothpick to the stigma on the underside of the column to apply the sticky pollen-grabbing substance made by the stigma to the toothpick.

Step 3

Touch the underside of the end of the column with the toothpick to grasp a ball of pollen, known as a pollinia.

Step 4

Tap the pollinia on the end of the toothpick back onto the stigma to deposit it and pollinate the orchid.

Step 5

Repeat with any other flowers, and watch for the ovary to swell over the next one to two weeks, indicating a successful pollination.

Things You'll Need

  • Flat ended toothpick
  • Orchid flower


  • New Jersey Orchid Society: Pollination
  • American Orchid Society: Hand Pollinating Vanilla

Who Can Help

  • VenuiVanilla: Images of Hand Pollination
Keywords: vanilla, orchid flower, hand pollination

About this Author

Athena Hessong began her freelance writing career in 2004. She draws upon experiences and knowledge gained from teaching all high school subjects for seven years. Hessong earned a Bachelor's in Arts in history from the University of Houston and is a current member of the Society of Professional Journalists.