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Pepper pollination failures

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  • Pepper pollination failures

    I’m looking ahead to pepper flowering time. I have a number of varieties I’d like to keep true seed for.

    Last year my success rate was very low indeed. I enthusiastically bagged flowers and glued flowers using jayb’s method but time after time flowers fell off and failed to develop into fruit.

    I’m thinking that the problem is probably that the flowers need more agitation to spread the pollen and I did try some gentle shaking as the season went on. But I’m wondering what experience anyone else might have had, and how I can best improve the setting rate from earlier on in the season. Electric toothbrush perhaps?

  • #2
    Perhaps a very soft brush to pollinate flowers inside a blossom baggie. The stem of an electric toothbrush gently agitating the outside of a blossom baggie could also work. There may be a time of day which is just right for the pollen. I have no experience of this with pepper pollen, but with cucurbita, pollen is definitely a bit tricky and does not like too hot or too cold. Maybe pepper pollen does not like the cool of the morning or evening and prefers warmer conditions, more difficult earlier in the season. Hand pollination will never be as good or as effective as multiple bee pollination at different times. Multiple gentle shaking could be the answer and of course doing as many as possible. However, peppers can and do selfpollinate, it may just be a case of numbers. When you are watching them anxiously for setting for seed, you know every one that does not make it. When you just grow for eating, its a case of, oh look, a nice pepper for lunch and any aborted fruits are of no consequence. Better luck this year, Jan.
    Last edited by Galina; 27-02-2021, 08:18.


    • #3
      I had a Shishito pepper by the window in my bedroom last autumn and it set some fruit. No pollinators around.. I hope!!
      Maybe some varieties may be more self-fertile than others, because of minute differences in flower structure. Also I've noticed if it is very dry there is less fruit set. But I think diligent application of the toothbrush method, at different times of day over a few days, is a good place to start. Those bumblebees really do vibrate a lot.
      Best of luck!


      • #4
        Thanks both for your suggestions. I also isolated Purple Tiger and it set fruit indoors without obvious agitation or breeze movement.

        I’m not sure that ‘diligent application’ is quite my style but I’ll endeavour to take a few steps in that direction! Perhaps even a specially dedicated electric toothbrush (are vibrators cheaper I wonder) located in the polytunnel so that it isn’t a double trek indoors to the bathroom each time. Forward planning and perseverance needed. Thanks again for stiffening my resolve!