Lots of Blossoms But Little Fruit – What To Do

Q. I have hundreds of blossoms on my tomato, squash and etc. plants yet very little  fruit. I have observed that there are no bees (I have only seen 3 at any one time) around. Is this normal? What can I do to correct this situation?

A. The lack of pollinators is rarely a problem for tomatoes because their blossoms are “perfect”, meaning they contain both male and female parts. Even a gentle breeze or movement of the plant stems will allow pollination to occur.

Squash can be pollinated by hand quite easily, so long as you can find male
blossoms. You must take a male blossom (the one WITHOUT a small fruit forming behind the flower), strip the petals off, then touch the tip, or stamen, to the pistil, or tip of the female blossom. One male can pollinate several females.

This must be done in the early morning, when both blossoms are fully open, or the blossom won’t be receptive to pollination.

Are you looking for bees in the early morning hours – before it heats up? That’s the most likely time for them to be active.

Attracting pollinators to your garden may be more difficult than pollinating squash yourself. You could buy a beehive and place that near your garden. Some people also plant flowers near their gardens in hopes of attracting bees, etc.

Another factor that could account for having very little fruit on plants is the temperature. This question was asked the first week of August, usually the hottest time of the year.

Extreme heat is often the cause of plants not being able to set fruit. They like temperatures below 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and when it’s above 95 there is very little fruit-set.

Also, unless night-time temperatures are at least 15-20 degrees lower than daytime temperatures some plants won’t set fruit.

To mitigate the heat problem consider applying partial shade to your plants during the few hottest hours of the day. This is best done by placing a 25%-35% shade cloth directly above the plants, such that it shades only during the hours from 11 A.M. to 3 P.M.

Planting Sweet and Hot Peppers close – Affect the Fruit?

Q.   If you plant sweet peppers next to hot peppers will you have sweet hot peppers?
A.  Plants are cross-pollinated by bees and other insects, and the thing that is affected is the seed, which produces the next generation of plants.
If you were to eat the seeds that had been cross-pollinated you may notice the heat, but the mother fruit should not be affected.

Tomatoes – need a pollinator? What about cross-breeding?

Q.  I like 4 different tomato plants.  Can you grow a single plant and get fruit or do you need to have 2 or 3 of each to get a good crop?

A.  Tomatoes do not need a pollinator plant – they are self-fertile, meaning the flower has both male and female parts, so they do not need any outside help.

However, different tomato plants can get cross-bred by wind, bees, and of course human intervention (that’s how hybridization is accomplished).  Therefore, if you intend to save your tomatos for their seeds, you had better do two things.  1)  Start with heirloom plants – those which will breed true – rather than a hybrid, the seed from which will be something different.  2)  Plant your different varieties clear across the yard from each other, and then hope the bees don’t hybridize them anyway.

How do I pollinate my vegetable plants?

Q.  How do I pollinate my vegetable plants?

A.  You almost never have to worry about pollinating vegetable plants, because nature has provided ways in which it happens without our human intervention.Some folks think they need to help tomatoes to pollinate, but that isn’t the case. They are self-pollinating. You can actually sometimes assist some of the squashes, like zucchini, to pollinate. Take a male flower that is completely open (that’s the one without a fruit growing on it), remove the petal, then touch the male Anther to the Stigma of the female flower. That’s it! Sometimes, however, it’s wise to take part of the petal from the female flower, so that it can’t close up and become a hospitable place for fungus to grow.If you think you are having problems getting fruit on other specific vegetables, tell me which ones, and I will instruct you further.