Pollinating Indoor Gardens
Pollination is the transfer of pollen from the inside of the flower to the stigma of the same or different flower. In a natural setting plants are pollinated by a combination of wind and insect activity, primarily bees. Indoor gardens require artificial pollination if the plant is to bear fruit.
There are 4 types of plant pollination:
Plants needing pollen from different plants
Self pollinating plants
Plants that can self-pollinate as well as receive pollen from other plants
Plants that bare Male & Female flower parts
Certain self pollinators such as lettuce, peas and beans need very little help to pollinate indoors. Pepper and tomato plants however, need to be shook every couple of days to advance pollination. A gentle wind from a fan is also helpful. As soon as flowers begin to open, you should pollinate daily, preferably around Noon time. Early and late day pollination generally will not produce the best results.
Vegetables needing pollen from different plants, that bare Male and Female flower parts and other plants can be hand-pollinated by taking a cotton swab or small paint brush and transferring pollen from the male flower to the female. Make sure to use a new swab or a clean brush when pollinating more than one type of the same plant.
Flowers are pollinated daily by very gently moving the swab or brush in a circular motion deep inside the flower, then brushing the stigma, which is made up of long fragile slender looking tubes just inside the flowers tip.
I've heard of people using vibrators such as an electric toothbrush to simulate bee activity , I've not personally done this, as the methods I've outlined have been adequate. If you're going to do it anyway use caution as the flowers are fragile and you could easily damage or dislodge them.
Another method used with cultivars that produce separate male and female plants, such as Marijuana is to collect pollen from a male plant by putting a bag over a branch and gently shaking the pollen off for several minutes.
Once you remove the bag from the branch it should be dusty from the collected pollen.
Take the bag with the pollen from the male plant and cover a branch on the female plant, seal the bag so as not to allow any of the pollen to escape. Shake the bag of pollen and the plant’s stem together at once. After that you let the plant sit several hours and then shake it again. After a couple more hours you can take the bag off of the female plant’s branch.
"Both the male and the female reproductive parts of a plant are in the center of the flower. The male, pollen-producing part is called the anther, held aloft by a stalk called a filament. The entire male apparatus is called a stamen. Each pollen grain is unique to its species. The female reproductive part of a plant, the stigma, sits on top of a style, or stalk, which leads to an ovary at the base. The entire female plant mechanism is called a pistil." –Smithsonian Education
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