The Commercial Appeal
Pollination needed only to harvest fruit or seeds
Griffin’s renovation features lots of artwork and specialized lighting throughout the house including this kitchen sitting area.
Many gardeners have vegetables that have not yet produced any fruits or seeds. Plants will not produce fruits or seeds unless pollen is transferred from the male part of a flower to the female part. This transfer of pollen is the first step to pollination.
Many vegetables, such as collards and carrots, are grown for the leaves or the roots. These vegetables need no pollination in the home garden to produce. Pollination in the home garden is necessary only when the seed or fruit is harvested.
Beans, peas, peppers, tomatoes, eggplants and okra must be pollinated, but these plants have male and female flower parts on the same flower, and pollination is automatic.
The vine crops such as cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, melons and cantaloupe have separate male and female flowers on the same plant. Insects, mostly bees, transfer the pollen between flowers. The pollen is sticky and cannot be blown by the wind. When spraying these crops for insect control, wait until late afternoon when the flowers close so you will avoid killing bees that do the pollination.
Corn is another plant with separate male and female flowers. Pollen is blown from the tassels to the silks by the wind. Always plant corn in several short rows rather than one long row to avoid missing kernels on the ear.
Many gardeners worry about planting certain crops near one another for fear that they may pollinate each other and produce off flavors or a different-shaped fruit. Except for sweet corn, this very seldom happens. Yellow and white corn, when planted side by side, may result in ears with kernels of both colors.
Two varieties of the same vine crop may pollinate each other, but the fruit is not affected in any way. If you were to save the seed of these cross-pollinated fruit, you would get fruit of many sizes, shapes and colors. Never save seed from any hybrid crop.
For more gardening information, call the Tipton County Extension office at (901) 476-0231 or the Shelby County Extension office at (901) 752-1207. Booker T. Leigh extension director.