Hand Pollination of Flowers

Pumpkin Flower - Male, How to Hand Pollinate
Mature Male Pumpkin Ffower
Pumpkin Flower - Female
Mature Female Pumpkn Flower

About Hand Pollination

Hand pollination is a process where you are the bee, pollinating the female flower of a plant, with the male pollen. To perform hand pollination, all you need is an open female and male flower. The pollen can be from the same plant, or another plant, depending upon the reason for hand pollinating.

There are two major reasons to hand pollinate plants:

1. To cross-pollinate two species to create a new variety of a specific type of plant. This is done to produce varying colors, disease resistance, or other genetic traits to the new variety. See Cross-Pollination

2. To increase the likelihood of successful pollination, especially in the absence of bees and other pollinators. For example, giant pumpkin growers almost exclusively hand-pollinate their female flowers, to assure a good fruit set, and to assure the successful cross between two specific parents.

Did You Know? Mature (ripe) pollen can be stored in the refrigerator for several days. If female flowers are not around, cut some of the open male flowers. Put them in a jar with water, and put it in the refrigerator. When the female flowers open, you have pollen available for use.

How to Hand Pollinate Flowers

Here are the simple steps to hand-pollinating flowers:

  1. A day or two before the female flower is ready to open, cover it with cheesecloth netting, to prevent open pollination.

  2. Every morning, watch to see if the female flower is opening. It is best to hand pollinate as early in the morning as you can.   

  3. Find a few open male flowers, and cut them off the plant.

  4. Professionals recommend using a soft, horsehair brush. Gently brush it against the stamen to pick up some pollen.

  5. Now, gently brush the female stigma to transfer the pollen.

  6. You can also take the male stamen and directly rub it onto the female stigma. Just do so gently.

  7. Re-cover the female with the cheesecloth netting.

It will take several days to find out of your hand pollination efforts were successful. If successful, the fruit will begin to grow. If not, the fruit will shrivel and die.

More Resources Related to Hand Pollination

Pollination FAQs

Poor Pollination – causes and cures

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