Pollinating Strawberries, and Hand Pollination

Strawberries, while technically being self-pollinating, do benefit from some help. Many gardeners find that hand pollination of their strawberry plants produces a better yield.

There are several ways you can hand pollinate:
  • use a cotton swab, and gently wipe each flower (using the same swab for all)
  • use a soft clean paint brush and carefully brush the blossoms
  • gently shake the plant (this may not work for plants with flowers that don't have both male and female parts)
Hand pollination is commonly used in greenhouses in lieu of bees, and it's a useful tool to know about.

My strawberry plants are thriving, but as I write this, they're not producing the quantity of fruit that I would like. I have tried all sorts of things including watering more and trimming off the runners, but it hasn't really made a difference. The one thing I haven't tried yet is hand pollinating. Now I'm going to!

Pollinating Blueberries

Last year I bought two small blueberry bushes, which both had flowers at the time of purchase. I brought them home and planted them on either side of our considerably large yard, thinking I'd end up with better spacing that way. The flowers, which had already been pollinated, turned into berries, and I thought the plants were doing well.

This year, one of the plants has died, and the other, while still very healthy, has not produced flowers OR fruit. What I'm learning now is that blueberry bushes are not self-pollinating, and need to be planted close to each other so that they can cross pollinate. While blueberries have both male and female parts, they are self-sterile and cannot be pollinated from their own pollen.

Bees are important for blueberry pollination, and they prefer warm sunny weather. Next spring I plant to purchase more plants and put them within close proximity of each other, in a sunny, bee-friendly location. Hopefully this will produce better results!