Pollination with a brush

madabouteu(8A - central Alabama)February 10, 2014

This summer I may be growing eggplants in a greenhouse, to combat the depredations of flea beetles. If so, that means I have o pollinate the flowers myself. Is any particular kind of brush especially good for this purpose?

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While technically they don't require manual pollination and can self-pollinate, eggplants in a greenhouse can be a bit tricky and usually do benefit from manual pollination whether it's from the pollen on it's own flower or from other flowers on the plant.

Soft/fine brushes with artificial bristles and a thin "paint area" are good choices...cheap ones. The soft brush is useful to keep from accidentally damaging the flowers and letting you have a bit more speed/casual approach to doing it. The artificial (rather than natural hair) brushes tend to have a bit more static-like stick to them making pickup and transfer easier without being overly "static sticky."

My tool-of-choice are those cheap "dollar store" kid's craft/painting brushes (pictured below) though any soft brush (natural or artificial) will do the job well enough.

Also, it's generally a good idea to get at them shortly after flower opening...usually in the morning.

This post was edited by nc-crn on Mon, Feb 10, 14 at 18:43

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 6:42PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

You can also just rapidly finger-flick the blooms to pollinate them. Everything needed is inside each bloom -each bloom is self-fertile - so any sort of vibration activity works to pollinate them - good breeze from a fan that is strong enough to cause the blooms to jiggle works too. A combination of all the above is most effective.

And as nc-crn said the earlier in the morning the better.


    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 6:59PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I have never had pollination problem with eggplants in the absence of bees.
About the flea beetle, their damage is significant when eggplants are very small seedling or just emerging. In that space I may use nylon netting/tulle. Once they get into flowering and fruiting stage, flea beetle damage is negligible and I would not worry about it.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 7:14PM
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madabouteu(8A - central Alabama)

Thanks for the info. I expect to be at the greenhouse about 8:30 most mornings, so that would work.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 7:17PM
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runswithscissors(MT 4/5)

I know this thread is about pollinating your egg-plants, but I wanted to interject something I tried last year. Flea beetles damaged my egg-plant in the garden something fierce, too. So last summer I lpegged down aluminum foil around my plants (kind of like you would do with a plastic mulch). Hardly no damage. Once the plants were up tall enough, I just took up the foil and tossed it away.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 7:57PM
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madabouteu(8A - central Alabama)

Very welcome info! I have also read about spraying with a homemade concoction made by chopping up hot chili peppers and boiling the. That would sure deter me!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 8:09PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Rotating crops will help keep flea beetles away to a great extent. This year, I am going to put my plants under row covers until they start to bloom. As was stated above, once the plants are that big, the beetles do no harm. I hand pollinated squash last summer and it got old very fast. What a pain. And when they say the earlier the better above, they mean around sunrise. I am not going to plant summer squash this year. SVBs won. I am planting more eggplant instead.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 5:44PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I expect to be at the greenhouse about 8:30 most mornings, so that would work.

Try 2-3 hours earlier than that. Just after sunrise.


    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 6:18PM
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By the time the eggplants bloom it's going to be hot and you will have the greenhouse open a lot for ventilation. Any bumblebees that stay the night will start working the blossoms first thing in the morning. You could include a few flowering plants around the door to attract them.

I have found that if I hold eggplants in containers kept on a table on my deck until they outgrow quart pots, then cover them with tulle for a couple of weeks after setting them out, they are plenty strong enough to deal with flea beetles. I have lots of mint, and throw mint cuttings on the ground around the plants. It deters some but not all eggplant flea beetles.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 6:39AM
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