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How to Collect Tomato Flower Pollen

By G.K. Bayne ; Updated September 21, 2017

You can collect tomato flower pollen for cross-pollination to create your own variety of tomatoes. Experiment with different combinations as the results from the collection can be observed during the ripening of the pollinated tomato. In some cases, the pollen can be stored in the refrigerator in a clean sealed vial. The glass vial may have to be sterilized to eliminate any possible cross contamination from bacteria.

Identify the plants you are collecting pollen from by placing a plant marker at the base of the tomato plant. Use the black marker to label the plant tag. Make a corresponding label on the sealed plastic bag or glass vial for easy identification.

Choose a healthy tomato flower. This entails observing the plumpness of the flower and the surrounding anthers, which are the yellow portions of the tomato flower. The sides of the anthers contain the small grains of pollen you are wanting to collect.

Use a clean cotton swab. You may wish to keep a few swabs in another sealed plastic bag. The cleaner the swab, the less contamination that may occur from other pollen sources.

Grasp behind the flower head with one hand, ideally between the thumb and forefinger. Using your other hand, hold the cotton swab between your thumb and forefinger.

Twirl the cotton swab in a circular fashion as you gently roll the swab around the yellow anther. The goal is to collect the pollen on the complete exterior, or circumference, of the cotton swab.

Place the collected pollen on the swab in a clean plastic bag. Seal the bag and identify with the black marker. You may wish to cut the swab in half so it can fit inside the glass vial. Make notes as to plant and environmental conditions with the pen and notebook.


Things You Will Need

  • Plant markers
  • Black marker
  • Sealed plastic bag
  • Small glass sealed vials (optional)
  • Clean cotton tips swabs
  • Pen (optional)
  • Notebook (optional)


  • Record all the activity regarding collection and fertilization of the tomato flower, including weather conditions as some varieties may be affected by extremely humid conditions.