Pollinating Tomatoes





Introduction: Pollinating Tomatoes

Tomatoes, as well as other members of the Solanaceae require a special kind of pollination to achieve proper fruit set. This form of pollination is known as "buzz pollination". Buzz pollination is accomplished by Bumblebees (Bombus), by gripping the flower with their legs and vibrating their flight muscles, honeybees (Apis) are incapable of doing this. In small gardens, bumblebee populations can be insufficient to properly pollinate tomatoes and related plants. Here's how to buzz pollinate your plants to produce larger fruits.

Step 1: Yes, This Is a One Step Instructable

You will need an electric toothbrush with soft bristles. The electric toothbrush I'm using retails for $5 and after six months is being retired.

To pollinate the flower, turn on the toothbrush and gently and briefly touch it to the petals or stem of the flower, or flower cluster. Do not touch it to the face of the flower. That's all that is required, simply keep the toothbrush in with your garden tools and spend a few seconds each time you visit the garden, the results will be worth it.



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    I'm laughing so hard, I was searching online for how to pollinate my tomatoes because I'm trying to grow them inside. I couldn't find anything. Apparently the times I shook the plant in my attempts are the reason I've gotten a handful! Thanks so much!

    WoW! this is great , now I have a third use for electric toothbrushes.

    I see what you did there...

    What do you mean I'm three years late?

    Wonderful to know. Now I will be able to enjoy fresh tomatoes.

    even though all the posts are old I want to thank you for the article. I will be trying your method on my indoor garden at http://myaeroponics.com. As food costs go up using this method can help to have a self sufficient garden just using a tooth brush. I will be giving it a try..it just takes time to get a mature plant.

    If you did this would you be able to hybridize the tomato plant to grow bigger tomatoes?

    I had wondered if it would be possible to grow tomatoes in a warmed greenhouse all winter, but had been concerned about how they pollenate. Googled it, and came to this fine instructable! Thanks for the great idea. I don't have an electric toothbrush around here, but I've already imagined a way to use one of those cell phone vibrator motors to shake the stalks of my plants.

    Everything I heard in the comments here works just fine, especially with a small personal garden. I'm an organic veggie producer and have "lots" of heirloom tomato plants to pollinate. I used to spend days going through the plants with many different paint brushes and such (to avoid cross-pollinating different varieties) til an old German grower enlightened me. If you want to speed things up, just shake the entire vine gently for a bit- not hard enough to damage it or shake blossoms loose- just a good wiggle. It works like a charm- especially when you have a field full of plants.

    I grew a tomato plant from a store-bought tomato's seed, and it has been growing in my dining room window for going on three summers.  The original plant produced baseball sized tomatoes.  My plant produces grape-to-cherry sized tomatoes.  Any suggestions as to why my tomatoes are not as large as the original tomato?  Thanks!

    The tomato you bought at the store was most likely a hybrid.....designed to be transportable and not for flavor. The seed you planted grew something that was close to one of the parent plants used to create the hybrid at the store.

    If you want to grow the same tomato year after year you need to grow heirlooms and leave the hybrids alone.