How Can You Tell If A Tomato Flower Is Male Or Female? And How To Hand Pollinate Them.

By Paul Smart •  Updated: 07/20/21 •  3 min read

How Can You Tell If A Tomato Flower Is Male Or Female? Male and female plants on many plants can look pretty similar unless you know what you are looking for. So how can you tell if the tomato flowers are male or female? As they all look pretty much the same.

Tomato plants do not produce male and female flowers nor are there male and female plants. All tomato plants produce flowers that contain both female and male organs within a single flower. This is advantageous for the plant because in most cases it takes little intervention for the flower to be pollinated, a little wind is sometimes enough.

Tomato flowers contain anthers that produce pollen (male part) and pistils that accept pollen (female part). However, despite being relatively close to each other the pollination of flowers can sometimes be a problem if pollinator populations are lower than normal or have limited access to the plant. This is commonly a problem if the plants are being grown in a greenhouse as the plants are also shielded from the wind.

If you have poor pollination one of the earliest indicators is that the flowers will fall off the plant without setting fruit. If this is observed early in the season it is possible to retrieve the situation by hand pollinating the remaining flowers. However, other causes of blossom drop are extreme heat and water stress so it is also advisable to water the plant to ensure dry conditions are not the cause of the problem.

How To Hand Pollinate Flowers

The easiest way to hand pollinate Tomato flowers is using a fine artists’ paintbrush. The paintbrush is an effective way to move the pollen within the flower around. To pollinate the flowers gently push the brush into the center of the flower, rotating it a few times. When transferring from one flower to another on the same plant there is no need to clean the brush between flowers as it will not affect the pollination.

However, if you have different varieties of tomatoes within your garden that need to be pollinated it will be necessary to either clean the brush thoroughly or use a different brush. The reason for this is that if you use the same brush on different varieties it is likely that you will create a hybrid tomato plant.

Alternatives To Hand Pollination

An alternative to hand pollination is using a “Blossom Set” spray to pollinate your tomatoes which is available on Amazon. This spray provides Kinetin, a plant hormone, which causes flowers on the tomatoes to produce fruit, without pollination. It is best to apply it once a week, to the flowers and surrounding foliage when flowers appear.

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Paul Smart