Isolated honeybee covered with pollen

Even though it’s quite cold outside and a few areas are bogged down with snow, January is a brighter month. As the days pass they’re now getting longer and brighter while we move towards spring! This may not mean much for our dormant trees sleeping through the snow storms right now, but we’ve been noticing some action with our indoor plants.

We have some leaves sprouting and flowers blooming. With fruit trees in particular, their blooms need to be pollinated! However, when they’re inside they don’t have natural pollinators like the wind, bees, hummingbirds, butterflies, bugs… The list goes on to mention a few more things that you may not want roaming around in your home. Luckily the process of pollinating blooms by hand is very simple!

Hand Pollination

In large green houses sometimes the process of hand pollination is preferred. It’s believed that you’ll get better fruit or vegetables. Hand pollination allows people to control the production of hybrids with cross pollination. One method growers use is to simply use large electric vibrators to shake the plants. All of the pollen will get stirred up and spread around.

Growers will also use cultured honey bees to help with pollination in their green houses, but we don’t recommend that for your home. Also, this method isn’t preferred when growers use pesticides to keep unwanted bugs likes aphids or spider mites away.

At Home…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you want to pollinate your citrus trees like the Meyer Lemon tree you can shake the tree twice daily, but be careful not to over shake or harm it. If your tree is in a large pot and seems too heavy to lift and shake then you can gently shake the branches. You can also set a fan by your tree and the pollen will spread. However, most plants do not like cold drafts and some are very sensitive to wind.

You can take a small paintbrush or cotton swab and gently paint it over each bloom as if you’re painting them on your tree yourself. This is a relaxing process that spreads pollen to every flower. Don’t wash the paint brush between uses! Meyer Lemon trees flower over time, so in three weeks from the first bloom you may have more blooms to spread pollen to. Paint your blooms once a day.

This process works extremely well with trees like the Meyer Lemon that has unisex flowers, meaning the flowers contain both a corolla and a stigma. The reproductive organs of both male and female flowers. When the blooms start to droop or lose their petals stop painting it, it’s getting ready to turn into a fruit if it was successfully pollinated.

iStock_000036365658_LargeWith trees like the Cold Hardy Avocado you’ll have to watch them because their male and female parts are open at different times. Depending on what type of avocados you’re growing you’ll either have type A flowers or type B. Type A flowers open their female parts in the morning, and their male parts in the afternoon.

While type B flowers open their male parts in the morning, and female parts in the afternoon.

Therefore, it would be beneficial for you to paint the blooms in the morning and in the afternoon. Also, getting more than one avocado tree helps with pollination as well. Examples of type A avocado trees include the Hass, and the Cold Hardy Avocado.

Help Pollinate Your Plants

Pollen does spread in the air, so you may not need to pollinate your plants by hand, but it can help the fruit set. Be sure to know what type of flowers your plants have. They  could be unisex, either male or female, or even open at different times! If you’re unsure about what type of flowers your plant has, never hesitate to ask us!

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12 years ago I was sitting around, talking with two of my favorite, fellow Plant Geeks. We were trying to figure out why so many, superior plant varieties were not available to the public and were seldom offered in Garden Centers. Instead, the stores sold less attractive, older varieties, proven to be disease and insect prone. They also sold the sprays and chemicals that their customers would eventually need. The Ah Ha moment hit us and a company was formed. We decided that we would only offer the highest quality plants that must be Easy to Grow.