Tomato Pollination is usually left up to the bees. Since each yellow tomato blossom has both male and female parts, the tomato is considered a “self-fertilizing” plant. All the bee has to to is flutter it’s wings around the blossoms, which causes the blossoms to vibrate, and waaa laaa… tomatoes are born. Almost! There are a few other factors to consider, one is temperature. Tomatoes love the night time heat between 60 and 70 degrees. If the temperature falls below 60 or above 75 it interferes with the growth of the pollen. Also, if the weather is to damp or too dry…it interferes with the pollination.
Now, I like to help Mother Nature’s bees along by pollinating my own tomato plants. Follow along and I’ll teach you how to pollinate your tomatoes.
First, I grow container tomatoes and I have cherry, grape and regular tomatoes. The containers sit on casters so I can roll them around if I need to. Tomato plants need at least 8 hours of sunshine. I water them every day because they dry out easily because the container exposes the soil to extra heat. When tomatoes begin to appear, I fertilize them once a week. It keeps the blossoms coming. Now if your have a regular tomato garden… this regiment may be difficult to follow.
Grape and cherry tomatoes have clusters of blossoms, and when when the bees come around fluttering their wings a lot of blossoms get pollinated at one time.
Successful bee pollination produces lots of tomatoes on one stem, like the grape and cherry tomatoes.
And, it produces an abundance of tomatoes for salads or just to pop into your mouth one at at time.
Regular tomatoes have fewer blossoms in a cluster. When is a blossom ready to be pollinated?
When the tomato blossom is wide open, the yellow petals turned back and the flower is pointing down, the blossom is ready for pollination.
Here are the male and female parts.
The bees flutter their wings or a wind blows, causing the pollen to come out of the straw through the Antlers on to the Carpels or Ovary.
If the tomato pollination is successful, you’ll get an abundance of tomatoes on one tomato plant.
Now, I help tomato pollination along by gently tapping the blossom stem, causing a vibration. From all I can find, the best time to do this is mid-day, around noon. Not earlier than 10:00 and not later than 4:00. Some folks have been know to use a battery powered tooth brush because it’s vibration is suppose to simulate the bee’s wings. I’ve never been that particular. I just give the stem a little shake so the pollen will fall out of the male straw and fall on the end of the blossom.
Now some say this is all “folk lore… or myth.” Who know? My experience is, I have one heck of a lot of tomatoes on my plants which I didn’t had before hand pollinating.
So give it a try because the tomato harvest is just beginning and you have the rest of the summer, into the fall, to see if this pollination process works for you.
You can watch the video… to see this procedure in action.
P.S. I’ve already pick my first tomato, wiped it on my shirt and with my salt shaker in hand, give it a dash of salt and popped the whole thing in my mouth at once. Mmmmmm. Is this heaven?
P.P.S. I may not look like it but I removed a lot of leaves from my tomato plants. Looking at these photos it reminds me it’s time to remove a few more leaves. Taking leaves off will give your blossoms a greater change of being pollinated by bees and more energy goes to grown the tomato rather than the leaves.
Also, I read about a farmer who walks down the furrows of his tomato garden with a stick and gives the plants a shake. He claims his tomatoes produce 50 percent more yield.
P.P.P.S. One more thing. A woman standing next to me at the nursery says she give her tomatoes a shot of Epson Salts a couple of times a season. 1 TB to a gallon of water will do the trick. She claims it sweetens the tomatoes as well as encourages greater tomato production. She said, “Tomatoes love acid and the Epson Salts provides it. Haven’t tried this one yet, but I’m heading to the store for my Epson Salts.