Pollinate strawberries and tomatoes yourself

Strawberries and grow very well in window gardens but there is a catch, you will have to pollinate strawberries yourself.

I’m only going to talk about strawberries from now on but the principle applies to both strawberries and tomatoes.

To turn into fruit, the strawberry flowers have to be pollinated. In nature bees and other insects take care of this and they pollinate strawberries. And even if there are no insects around, the wind can do some of the work required and pollinate strawberries for us.

But indoors we don’t have the help of these little flying creatures, nor do we have wind. So we need to find another way to pollinate strawberries.

Yes, I know. When we buy strawberry plants they are often described as self pollinating. And technically this is correct.

Even if your strawberry plant only produces a single flower it can still pollinate and grow a strawberry. That is because the flower contains both the male stamen and the female pistil. So it has everything it needs for pollination to occur. It just needs a way to get the pollen to the pistil.

Don’t worry though, it’s not that hard.

Identifying the different parts of the strawberry flower

PollinatesStrawberries yourself - Pistil
Img by Shizhao – Click image for larger version

Pollinating strawberries yourself isn’t difficult at all and there are several ways you can do it. Let’s first see how you can identify the different parts of the flower

The pistil (female part ) is easy to find as it is in the heart of the strawberry flower. It is the round, yellow dot that you see in the center of the white flower. It is also the part of the flower that will grow into a strawberry after the flower is pollinated.

The male parts of the flower consists of 2 parts, the filament and the anther, and they grow right around the pistil. The filament is the stem that holds up the anther and it is the last one that is most important to us as the anther contains the pollen.

To pollinate strawberry flowers you will have to move the pollen from the anthers to the pistil. It is important to get the pollen all over the pistil to make sure the strawberry will develop properly.

If the pollen isn’t spread out all over the pistil you may get smaller and / or misshapen strawberries.

How to pollinate strawberries yourself

Pollinate strawberries yourself - Filamement / Anther
Img by Shizhao – Click image for larger version

So how do you actually pollinate strawberries yourself?

There are a couple of ways to do that.

The easiest is to, gently, rub the hearts of 2 flowers together. This will spread the pollen around and it will generally pollinate the flower. I say this is the easiest way as you don’t need anything but your own hands to do this.

A better way to do it is to use a small brush.
A small paint brush, make up brush, Q-tip or even a small toothbrush will do.

Whatever brush you choose, just make sure you paint / brush all over the pistil.

Many people actually use electric toothbrushes as these make it very easy to cover the entire pistil quickly.

Electric Toothbrush to help pollinate strawberries
Get your toothbrush here

If you choose to use an electric toothbrush to pollinate strawberry flowers just make sure you are gentle with it. You don’t want to destroy the flower.

To be safe, you may want to avoid touching the flower at all with the toothbrush. Instead just hold the toothbrush to the stem for a couple of seconds. The vibrations should be enough to get the pollen all over the pistil.

I also recommend getting a toothbrush that you only use to pollinate flowers. Electric toothbrushes are not that expensive anyway (just click the image of the toothbrush to see the current price on Amazon)

And that’s all. You’ve now pollinated strawberries yourself and the fruits can begin to grow.

Soon you’ll be eating your own, fresh, strawberries.

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Happy growing!


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