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How to hand pollinate strawberry plants for more fruits!

Strawberries in hands

Are you wondering why your strawberry plant isn’t producing as many strawberries as expected? Fear not!

Strawberry plants are usually pollinated by movement from the breeze of the wind, the rain and with the help of insects such as bumblebees, butterflies and honeybees. However sometimes there isn’t enough wind movement or insects around to pollinate all the flowers on the strawberry plant.

I’ve started growing strawberries 3 years ago and have kept the very same strawberry plants, as my little girl Yas and I love strawberries. I’ve always got a good amount of strawberries from each strawberry plant, however I wanted to make sure that my plants are producing their maximum yield. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic I’ve developed a strong interested in self-sufficiency to enjoy organically grown foods at a fraction of the shop bought organic produce as well as save a lot money. I’ve succeeded in my mission by applying the knowledge I’ve gained through my research and some advice from my green fingered mother.

Lei Hang from the thrifty island girl shares how to hand pollinate strawberry plants for more fruits
Lei Hang’s strawberry plants (picture taken June 2021)

As you can see from the picture above my strawberry plants are producing a lot of fruit this year. I’ll now share the knowledge I’ve gained with you to help you pollinate every single flower to at least double your fruits this year.

Strawberries are self-fruitful

Flowers of strawberry plants are hermaphroditic, meaning that the flowers can self-pollinate. This is because the flowers contain the female and male parts called stamen and pistil respectively. There are many self-fertilizing fruit and vegetable plants such as tomato plants, however here we are focusing on strawberry plants.

If you’ve got some tomato plants, check out my guide on How to hand pollinate tomato plants for more fruits!

Pollinating strawberry plants by hand

white strawberry flowers can be hand pollinated to get more strawberry fruits
White strawberry flowers, ready to be pollinated.

As we know there is a decline in bees, which in turn means less fruits and veg for us. This is because there aren’t enough bees to pollinate our flowers. Don’t fear! I will share an easy and effective way to hand pollinate strawberry flowers to greatly increase the yield of strawberry fruit. Flowers that are ready to be pollinated are the ones that are white and wide open. Once it has been successfully pollinated the next 2-3days you can see that the flower slowly drop downwards and losing its white petals. Few more days after that you’ll notice a small green strawberry developing in the center of the flower.

The Vibrator!?!

Before you think what on earth… let me explain! I recommend this method to everyone, as I managed to successfully get all flowers on my Marshmello and Alpine strawberry plants to pollinate and turn into fruit. An electric toothbrush is required, a cheap one would do. You can go to a Pound shop in UK or Dollar store in the states to get a cheap kids one. I have bought an Oral B Pulsar electric toothbrush, its slightly more expensive than other disposable electric toothbrushes, but still cheap and also allows me to change the battery once it runs out. This way I wont ever need to replace it, saving me money in the long run. Since ever I got this toothbrush to pollinate the flowers, I called it the fruit and veg plant dildo…

Anyways, what you do is get the toothbrush and gently touch all the center of the flowers. The vibration mimics the actions of the bees wings and loosens the pollen from the male part to distribute it to the pistil, the female part. I look out for the flowers every other day and do this to get the most out of my strawberry plants. I find this method is the most effective and quickest method to 100% pollinate all my flowers.

Alternatively, you can also use a soft, old makeup brush or paint brush and gently rub the yellow centre of the flower. Make sure to clean the make up brush or paint brush before using as a pollinator brush.

Which strawberry strains I used and why

I’m mainly growing Marshmello strawberries, because this strawberry variety produces heavy crops of large and very sweet fruits.

I have also got some Alpine strawberry plants, which I got for free last year from a lovely lady locally through the Green Island Veg Economy (IOW) group. If you are also from the Isle of Wight and enjoy growing fruits and vegetables, I highly recommend this group!

Make the most out of tomato plants if you are growing some this year by reading my guide: How to hand pollinate tomato plants for more fruits!

If you would like to save money on your water bill, have a look my article: 20 ways to save money on your water bill!