How to help your tomatoes pollinate

Tomatoes are self-pollinators. This means each flower contains both the male and female parts.

The male part will drop the pollen onto the female part. 

Tomatoes, generally will not produce pollen when night time temperatures are too cold. For tomato plants to produce pollen, generally speaking, night time temperatures need to be about 55 degrees or warmer.  

When it’s too cold, plants still grow and blossoms come on and then drop off because there is no pollen.  

The tomato plant knows not to produce pollen when the weather is still too cold.

Also, if day time temperatures get too hot, the tomato plant stops producing pollen. That happens when day time temperatures go above 85 or 90 degrees. Same thing, blossoms come on but drop off because they contain no pollen … it’s too hot.

The plant says I just better focus on using all of my energy to stay alive. Once the temperature comes back down, the tomato plant will once again produce pollen. 

Look for and plant “heat tolerant” tomato plants during hot weather months. These are bred to produce tomatoes in 90 degree weather. My favorite is “Phoenix.”  

Once the temperature is right, in order to pollinate, the plant needs vibration from wind, bees wings, and maybe you gently shaking the vine to dislodge and release the pollen. It’s the vibration that that makes the pollen drop in a little cloud of dust. 

Every day, new blossoms come on the plant and every day, blossoms close up.  

Pollinated blossoms go on to bear fruit. Those that close up not pollinated … fall off. 

You have about 48 hours to pollinate as after about 48 hours, the unpollinated blossom dies and falls off. 

 I use an electric toothbrush to help pollinate. 


Simply touch and vibrate the top of the blossoms and you will see the pollen fall. Like a little puff of dust. 

It takes just seconds to help pollinate and I would guess it adds 15%-25% more tomatoes!!

You are welcome to share this information with others—clubs—perhaps share this with your general membership to include those that could not attend the lecture, family, friends, others, etc.


Dave Freed  “The Tomato Guy”