Q: Would you recommend the use of a “blossom set” product on tomato plants? Are there any problems with trying to take over a bee’s job? I just want the best tomatoes I can get.
A: Blossom setting sprays contain a plant hormone that induces tomato flowers to develop fruit without pollination. This is technically known as parthenocarpy. Tomato growers in cool climates use the spray to get fruit when nothing else works. Since the tomato develops without pollination, some might be misshapen, due to uneven development of the ovules.
Temperature and humidity both affect tomato pollination – which occurs without a bee’s involvement. Vibrations and air currents are usually sufficient to shake pollen loose and achieve pollination inside the flower. Here’s a trick to try: lightly tap each flower cluster a couple of times each day with a wooden pencil or chopstick. You may well get the best pollination and the biggest tomatoes this simple way.
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