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I have an eggplant that has thus far produced several flowers, but no fruit yet. I have read that hand pollination is often necessary for eggplant to produce fruit.

How do I go about hand pollinating the plant? Do I need any special equipment?

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2 Answers 2

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Eggplant flowers are "perfect", meaning a single flower contains both female and male reproductive structures, therefore hand pollinating is even easier...

How to Hand-Pollinate Your Vegetables:

For these flowers, I use a make-up brush. I've read that others use a small paint brush or Q-tip...

Whichever implement you choose, just take the brush and gently rub the pollen from the stamen (these are the pollen-covered filaments that surround the center) onto the pistil.

The pistil is the female center of the flower -- the tip is called the stigma -- and this is what you must pollinate.

The flowers on these plants can stay open for several days, so it's not a bad idea to repeat the process every day or so. You will know the process has worked if the flower closes but doesn't fall off the plant.

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Yes I found that the paintbrush pollination technique works. Make sure the pollen in brushed well onto the flower center. Also cooler weather here and additional water seems to help. As with the tomatoes. –  user2832 Oct 15 '13 at 21:56

The reference I have says that eggplant flowers are usually self-pollinating. ("Seed to Seed", Suzanne Ashworth.)

Another potential cause of your eggplant failing to produce fruit is stress from lack of water. Has it been very hot and dry there? Are you watering adequately? Also, if it is very humid the pollen may stick and avoid falling down onto the pistil to pollinate the flower. (source)

There are a few websites I've seen that tell you to pull off a flower and rub it against another flower on a different plant. While that's great for cross-pollination, keep in mind that every "perfect" flower is female, so it can produce fruit. Every flower you pull off for pollinating is a fruit you can't harvest. (Which may not be a problem if you're getting plenty of flowers. It's also not a problem on squash, which produce separate male and female flowers.) The paintbrush technique works without removing any potential fruit.

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Incredibly hot, dry, and quite humid. I will water more regularly. If I pollinate by hand I will use a brush rather than another flower as there are only a couple of flowers on the plant at the moment. I didn't have any trouble with my zucchini pollinating this year. But the eggplants don't want to set fruit –  wax eagle Aug 30 '11 at 16:37

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