Pollination – To be a BEE or not to be.

Excitement takes over as we peruse through the seed catalog, walk down the isles at our local garden shop, or add countless seed varieties that we’ve never even heard of to our online cart. All we know is one thing for sure, I like that plant and I must have it. It’s a typical symptom of being a plant lover and one that I personally, fully embrace.

It’s not until later, when we receive the seeds that we start to consider the many factors that play into a successful growing cycle of each particular plant variety. When it comes to growing fruits and vegetables indoors, one of the most important factors to consider is pollination. 

How can plants pollinate indoors without bees?

That’s a question I’ve been asked countless times. I enjoy answering it because there is a couple simple yet fascinating solutions. 

Some Plants Self Pollinate:

Self pollinating plants produce a flower that has all the necessary parts to produce a fruit. These plants, however, still rely on mother nature to help the pollen travel to the stigma of the flower. With no help, from us or mother nature, pollination rates may be low. Lightly tapping the stalk of the plant when it is flowering creates movement and will help the flowers self pollinate. Some examples or self pollinating plants include some varieties of tomatoes, beans, and peas.

Cross Pollination Plants need a hand, literally: 

Plants that rely on cross pollination produce male and female flowers separately and have unique relationships with insects and the wind to carry pollen from one flower to the next. Since most of don’t have bees, beetles, and other insects populating the interior of our home nor is it extremely windy indoors, the plants rely on us to transfer pollen from one flower to the next. Below are some examples of household items you can use as a pollination tool and the technique used to successfully pollinate your indoor fruiting plants. Some examples of cross pollinating plants include melons, squash, and most cucumbers.

Tools you can use

Paint Brush, Cotton Swab, Toothbrush

Hand pollinating technique: 

Use a tiny paint brush and/or tool of your choice to gently swirl inside a freshly opened flower, being sure to collect a couple granules of pollen. Then gently swirl the paint brush (or other tool) inside another freshly opened flower. Repeat this process until you have paid a visit to all open flowers on the plant. Repeat this process with new flowers as they emerge. 

Growing fresh fruits and vegetables indoors and out is very rewarding. Taking on the role of a bee is a big responsible and one we must continue to carry in order to produce fresh, delicious, and organic produce from the comfort of our home.

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