Fer­til­is­ing fruits ’n flow­ers

The Tribune (NZ) - - GARDENING -

To avoid this, on a sunny day when the tops are laden with pollen, sim­ply run your hand up the male flow­ers and dump the con­tents on the fe­male tas­sels be­low. This helps en­sure fuller cobs at har­vest time. Ad­di­tional two-weekly sprays of Magic Botanic Liq­uid also makes for bet­ter, big­ger sets on the cobs.

Pump­kins, zuc­chini and mel­ons have both male and fe­male flow­ers on the same plant and the pollen needs to be moved from the male to the fe­male. Bum­ble bees nor­mally do this job but if the fruit is not pol­li­nated it will still grow for a time but then rot off..

The fe­male flower is easy to de­ter­mine as it has the em­bryo fruit be­hind the flower, the male does not.To en­sure a good fruit set, pluck a pollen-laden male flower off the vine, re­move the pe­tals and rub some of the pollen onto the cen­tre part of the fe­male flow­ers.

Pas­sion­fruit is an­other crop that will ben­e­fit from hand pol­li­na­tion.

To help at­tract in­sect pol­li­na­tors, dis­solve raw sugar in hot wa­ter and then spray the sweet liq­uid over your tar­get . Toma­toes are pol­li­nated by vi­bra­tion from bum­ble bee wings as they fly near the plant. A light breeze on a sunny day when the flow­ers are pollen laden also does the job and gen­er­ally speak­ing out­door tomato plants set fruit well.

In glasshouses or shel­tered ar­eas, en­sure set­ting by tap­ping the stake or trunk of the plant to cause a vi­bra­tion.

Make sure there’s am­ple potash avail­able to any flow­er­ing or fruit­ing plant. A monthly sprin­kle of Fruit and Flower Power on the soil in the root zone will greatly as­sist.

Some plants such as bougainvil­lea need a bit of stress to give a great show of flow­ers. If they are well fed and wa­tered they tend to grow all over the place and not flower. So, let them dry out for a time to kick in the flow­er­ing cy­cle, and don’t feed them much ei­ther.

Re­mem­ber that most plants only flower to re­pro­duce them­selves by seed. When their lives are threat­ened, they quickly go into a flow­er­ing cy­cle. The best ex­am­ple of this are the an­nual weeds that grow lushly in spring when there is am­ple rain, but as soon as the soil dries out, they start to flower.

On veg­eta­bles such as cab­bages and sil­ver­beet, the soil needs to be kept moist be­cause if it is al­lowed to dry out too much, the plants will bolt, or in other words, go to seed pre­ma­turely.

PHOTO: FAIR­FAX NZ

In flow­er­ing sweet­corn, the male tops dust the fe­male tas­sels to com­plete the fer­til­i­sa­tion process, which is one rea­son why sweet­corn is planted closely to­gether.

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