Pollinating Tomatoes & Strawberries – Plants with “Perfect” flowers

Q.  How do you pollinate tomato blossoms and strawberry blossoms when there are no bees ?
 
A.  Tomato blossoms self-pollinate because they have “perfect” blossoms, which contain both male (stamen) and female (pistil) parts.   Pollinating by humans is difficult because the blossom is so tiny, and hybridizing tomatoes is therefore time-consuming and costly.  In your garden or greenhouse slight movements of the plant from wind or activities such as pruning are sufficient to transfer the pollen from the male stamen to the female pistil without the gardener having to worry about it.

 
For strawberries, which are also hermaphrodites, or in other words have perfect flowers, hand pollination is rarely necessary, but it is much easier than tomatoes because the blossom is larger and quite open.  The tiny motes of pollen that can be found on the stamens of strawberry blossoms near the outer edge are transferred very easily.  It is usually accomplished without us being involved at all.  However, gently brushing the outer edge of the blossom with your finger to move pollen into the center of the blossom, where the pistil is located,  is an easy and quick way to pollinate your strawberries.  Even more effective is using a  small-bristled brush to collect pollen from multiple blossoms and “paint” them onto the pistils of the same and other blossoms. A makeup brush, fine-bristled paint brush, or a q-tip that has the cotton teased out on one end all will work.
 
 

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