QUESTION: Do eggplants need to be pollinated? I’m not seeing a lot of eggplants develop, but I’m seeing flowers. -David G.
ANSWER: Eggplants are sometimes referred to as the perfect pollinator, because they have the rare ability to self-pollinate within the same flower. Usually, your eggplants will either self-pollinate, or they will get a little bit of help from the bee population. However, on some occasions, you may notice that your eggplant yields are strangely low, or you might see your plants producing flowers that wither and fall off the plant without growing fruit. If you notice that your eggplants are struggling to produce fruit, you may need to try hand pollinating them to get them producing fruit for you to harvest.
To pollinate your eggplant flowers by hand, you will need an electric toothbrush, a small paint brush or q-tip, a pair of tweezers, and an electric fan. Start by assessing the flowers in the flower cluster and locate the most developed one. Most likely, it will be the bloom at the bottom of the flower cluster. Take a hold of the eggplant vine near this flower and shake it, simulating the movement of air or of beneficial insects. Perform this simple task daily if possible, or at the very least several times per week.
Then, put the head of an electric toothbrush next to the vine and turn it on. The vibration from the toothbrush will help to shake the pollen loose from nearby flowers. Then take a small paint brush or q-tip and insert it into the flower, gently moving it around the pistil and over the stigma to dislodge and move the flower’s pollen around. Lastly, use a pair of tweezers to remove the stamen, then brush the head of the stamen against the stigma several times to dislodge the pollen. You can perform this action on the same flower that you took the stamen from, or you can do it to a different flower to cross-pollinate the eggplant.
Placing a fan in your garden or in your greenhouse and allowing it to blow across your eggplant flowers will stimulate pollination and may improve the plant’s overall yield.