Pollinating tomato flowers

Tomato flowers are small and yellow, and point dowmwards

Tomato flowers are supposed to be pollinated by air, so they’re designed such that a slight shake will do the trick. I once opened up a spent flower to see how, and I found that the cone-shaped bit in the center has pollen all around its walls. When the flower is shaken, this pollen falls downward and onto the female reproductive organs.

Due to the pollen being inside, the flowers can’t be pollinated using a brush. Instead, what you need to do is to shake the flowers a bit. I give them a little flick on the side, and that seems to do the trick. If you have a large number of plants, individually shaking the flowers might not be possible.

In that case, you can grab hold of the flowering branch, and give it a few flicks instead. That may not have as high a success rate, but it’ll be a good deal higher than if the plants were left on their own. Just be careful to not shake them too hard, or you might break the little flowers off! Their branches are awfully tender.

One issue which I’ve experienced is that since each branch bears six flowers, and each plant has multiple flowering branches, it gets hard to keep up with which flowers have been pollinated, and which haven’t. To deal with this, you can try setting up a schedule for every 2-3 days, to go out and pollinate the flowers.

The average flower seems to last for 3 days, so that should work out. Tomato flowers tend to look older after they’ve been blooming for 2 days, so it’s fairly easy to tell by sight, but if that doesn’t work for you, just go out and give them a little shake every 2-3 days anyway.


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