In her tutorial, Kia Jade (@kia_urbangardener) shows us how to increase a tomato plant’s yield by hand pollinating it.
The process involves manually transferring pollen within a tomato flower by gently tapping the plant’s flowers, which can keep tomatoes thriving even if they are not getting enough attention from bees.
“Tomato plants have both male and female aspects when it comes to the flower, so they are self-pollinating, and the best way you can supercharge that process is by tapping the flower,” Kia explains in her video, as she lightly taps on her tomato plant. “Yes, you heard me correct — like, a little tap tap tap.”
“Doing so helps release the pollen onto the stamen and that is what the pollination process is, so it means you don’t have to rely on bees or the wind and it does increase yield,” she adds.
@kia_urbangardener This hack I discovered from @jerrasgarden and it’s really helped me grow more tomatoes! #gardeninghacks #gardenhack #gardeningtips #gardeningtiktok #gardeninghacks101 #tiktoktaughtme #tomatoes #growingtomatoes #growyourownfood ♬ Dreamy Vibes – Ocean Bay Jazz
Tomatoes are self-compatible, meaning that each tomato plant flower contains both the male and female parts needed for reproduction.
Pollen is produced by the stamen, the male reproductive organ of a plant, which needs to be received by the pistil, the female reproductive organ of a plant, in order for the plant to produce fruit.
However, since tomato pollen is heavy and sticky, it needs to be shaken loose from the male organ in order to fall onto the female organ.
This pollination “shaking” is typically caused by wind or buzzing insects like bees, and without it, the flower dies.
However, if the weather isn’t cooperating or bees aren’t doing their job, tomato plants may not be able to reproduce and no fruit will develop, which is why hand pollination can help ensure a successful harvest no matter what.
According to Tomato Bible, if gently tapping the tomato plant’s flowers does not release any pollen, you may want to consider using a bit more force by flicking the stems close to the base of the flower.
For a more involved method of hand pollinating, the site recommends using an electric toothbrush to mimic the buzzing of bees to encourage the release of as much pollen as possible. Just place the toothbrush on the back of the blooms for a few seconds to vibrate the flowers and shake the pollen from the stamen to the pistil.
As Tomato Bible points out, tomato plants have managed to thrive for thousands of years without hand pollinating. But, for anyone struggling with yield, especially those keeping tomato plants in greenhouses or indoors with limited access to wind or pollinating insects, this technique can help plants thrive.
TikTokers were excited to try out the useful method with some sharing their own successes with hand pollination.
“Wow I never knew that,” commented one user.
“I did the tapping … and I had so [many] tomatoes on my plants this year,” another user wrote.
“I rest a vibrating toothbrush on the stem, imagine a little bee, watch the pollen fall,” said a third gardener.