Pollination of vegetable plants can be a problem for indoor gardeners because your plants are indoors. It’s a common concern for beginners with a greenhouse. Let’s take a general look at what pollination is and how we might handle such a task with our indoor gardening.
What is Pollination?
Pollination is part of the reproductive cycle Kinetic Energy Refinery Equipment of plants. It involves transferring pollen from male parts of flowers to female parts of flowers to fertilize the plant. Fertilization is essential so the plant can produce seed.
Some plants are self-fertile so they don’t need pollen from another plant. Their blossoms can fertilize themselves (within the same flower or from a flower on the same plant). Other plants require cross-pollination where pollen from another similar plant is used to fertilize the flower.
Vegetables like carrots, beets and broccoli are productive in the absence of pollination, because their seed is produced after it provides its food source to us. Vegetables that bear fruit, like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and squash require pollination for the fruit to set, so it’s essential that pollination take place.
How are Plants Pollinated?
There are four basic ways that pollination takes place: animal contact; wind; self-pollination, and human assisted pollination. Here are some examples of each type of pollinator at work.
The overwhelming majority of plant pollination is performed by bees as they go about searching for food. Other pollinators include butterflies, moths, flies and birds.
Wind is another good pollinator. Corn is wind pollinated. Pollen is blown by the wind from the tassels on top of the corn plant to the corn silk that hangs out of the end of each ear of corn.
Many types of plants are self-pollinating. Some plants pollinate themselves by having the male portion of the blossom grow into contact with the female portion. This can happen even when the blossom is closed.
When growing plants indoors, the chance of pollination by animals and wind is reduced, so that’s where we humans have to get involved to make certain our plants are pollinated. Sometimes it requires a small paint brush, and sometimes we just need to shake the plant a bit or create air circulation to promote pollination.
Pollinating Indoor Vegetables
The easiest approach to indoor pollination is to provide an opening for insects to enter. Bees will naturally find their way into your greenhouse or other indoor growing area if you give them an opportunity.
Tomatoes are mostly self-fertile, yet some have blossoms that don’t open, so they can’t be pollinated by bees or other insects, and indoors the wind can’t get to them. To ensure adequate pollination, just shake the plant lightly every few days after blossoms appear. This will help dislodge pollen inside the blossoms for fertilization that will help set fruit.
Squash plants have both male and female flowers. As soon as the blossoms open, use a small water color paint brush and act as the pollinator. Gently swirl it inside of a male flower to pick up pollen, and then brush it lightly inside the center of the female blossoms (the ones with the fruits on the ends).
An Alternative to Pollination
If you’re growing vegetables indoors, you might consider growing cucumbers especially bred for use in a greenhouse. They’re known as European greenhouse varieties. They produce nearly all female blossoms, require no pollination, and produce an abundance of seedless cucumbers.
So, there you have it, the basics of pollination for fruit set and seed development. Even indoors nature can accomplish this task, but sometimes it needs a little help. To be on the safe side, I always help along my vegetable plants until I see that an abundance of bees have found their way into the greenhouse to pollinate the plants.
Author Box Clair Schwan has 1 articles online
Clair Schwan is an experienced vegetable gardener that grows and harvests a wide range of vegetables all year long in unheated greenhouses of his own design and construction. See his advice and counsel on a range of vegetable gardening and greenhouse gardening topics at http://www.vegetable-gardening-and-greenhouses.com
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