If you grow melons in your garden, you are cultivating a sweet treasure of nutrition and taste. The fruit, such as cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon, grow on long vines that spread out along the ground. Each vine develops male and female flowers, which are bright yellow or white and tubular shaped. However, pollination can be a problem if you lack bees and insects in your area. Knowing how to artificially pollinate the melon vines by hand can help ensure a bountiful crop. Artificial pollination also allows you to crossbreed different varieties of melon to create a new type of the fruit.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Masking tape
- Popsicle stick or bamboo
Wait until midmorning, and examine the melon vine to identify the flowers, which must be open to successfully pollinate. Look at the base of the flowers until you find one with a swollen oval bulb under it. That is a female flower.
Look at the base of the remaining flowers to identify the male flowers, which do not have bulbs at the base. Snap off one of the male flowers from where it meets the main vine.
Hold the stem of the male blossom in one hand a,nd gently peel off all of the white or yellow flower petals with the other hand. Fold the remaining green portion back with your fingers so that the centre is easily accessible.
Lower the male flower down to the centre of the female flower. and gently rub it back and forth approximately 10 times.
Tear off a 1 1/2-inch-long piece of masking tape. Wrap the tape around the outside of the female flower petals.Stick the ends of the tape to each other to close up the flower. This prevents additional pollen from getting in which cross contaminates the plant.
Stick a plant marker into the soil directly next to the flowers that you artificially pollinated so that they are easily identifiable. You can use Popsicle sticks or bamboo sticks painted different colours for this.
Tips and warnings
- If you are pollinating multiple varieties in a single day, wash your hands in between pollination to remove any pollen dust on them.
- When the stem under the female flower starts to enlarge, you know that the artificial pollination was successful.
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