Sometimes it’s necessary to hand pollinate fruit trees. If you haven’t heard already we have a shortage of bees, Mother-nature workers. There’s a suspicious that the bees are being eliminated by chemicals that prevent insects from eating our crops. That’s right, pesticide might be the cause of the disappearing honey bees.
What is Hand Pollination
Okay well, it sounds just as is. In an area lacking honeybees to pollinate your crops, you have no other choice but to hand pollinate them yourself. I hope you don’t have an acreage of crops in that case you’re better off importing honey bees from elsewhere. Yep, using your hands.
There are many vegetables and fruit trees that can be hand pollinated. The concept is the same as self-pollination however, we as humans just gonna push the plants a little when they’re too shy to do it themselves. Humans match making plants to have sproutlings. Wouldn’t that be interesting? O.O
Which Fruit Trees
It is best to pollinate from the same species of fruit trees however, pear and apples can cross-pollinate if they fruit at the same season or time. Very important that you have the variety that is local to your area. Plums, sweet cherries, apples, pears, and papayas.
Zucchini for one is great to hand pollinate them. Look for the male zucchini once, you have located the male zucchini try to pollinate the female zucchini.
Watermelons, melons, tomatoes, and all leafy greens they can all be hand pollinated. There’s much more and I will only be writing about the ones I have experience with and the zone that I am from, zone 10a, yes, very rough out here but not impossible. Everything is a little TLC. (Tender loving care) oh and patience.
What to Look For
Male zucchini it’s just a big flower. It will not have a starting fruit. Female zucchini has already a starting fruit so it’s easy to locate and decipher which is male or female.
That goes the same concept as melons, watermelons, cucumber, tomatoes, and squash.
Papaya trees according to my mother, papaya trees flowered in a cluster is a male plant. You must plant two kinds together so one can pollinate the other. However, if you have a hermaphrodite papaya then it should pollinate itself. If not, take that little brush of yours and tickle the flowers a little from one flower to another. After a good laugh, they’ll mature right up!
According to my mom, I have a female papaya tree. A very young tree that now it’s starting to flower and it’s not in clusters so I am pretty sure it is not a male papaya tree.
When looking for male or female flowers, most of the time females will have a starting fruit behind the flower. The male flower will just be a flower with no starting fruit.
When the flowers cannot be deciphered from that angel, look inside the flower.
Female flower tends to have one tube with an enlarged head, call pistil. That’s what you should be looking for. The pistil once pollinated will take it to the plant’s ovary.
Male flower will have several stalks with pom-pom at the end its call stamens and at the end of the stamens, it is called anthers. In other words look for stamens with anthers that’s where the pollen resides. That’s what you want to brush from and to the female flower.
Hermaphrodite like the papaya tree has both male and female flowers. That kind can self-pollinate.
Tools to use
Find the smallest and softest paintbrush, used a make-up brush that you no longer need, cotton swab or your fingers preferably your pinky but if you have small stubby fingers like me, any is fine. (^o^)
For smaller flowers like cucumbers, sweet cherries blossom, and tomatoes use a small brush.
Here’s a little video I found on YouTube to help you guys how to hand pollinating fruit trees.
With a little TLC, your fruit trees and vegetables are happy and you can reap the rewards. All in all, you’ll be happy and your plants happy. It’s a win-win situation. So, go give it a try and let me know how it went.