How To Hand Pollinate Pumpkins
The first time I attempted to grow pumpkins the vines grew very quickly and so did the leaves however the pumpkins were very slow to start. When the pumpkins did eventually begin to grow they would grow to the size of golf balls, sometimes as large as baseballs even and then they would die. After this happened a couple dozen times one did eventually begin growing. This one still seemed a little slow to grow and it certainly didn't help that it was at this point deep into fall. Eventually frost ended up killing the pumpkins plant and it was left at a size that was slightly smaller than a bowling ball.
It wasn't a very good start and I was very downhearted about having spent so much time cultivating it only for it to end up like that.
I decided I needed to know why this was happening after all I had known people that lived in my region that had great success at growing pumpkins, even atlantic giants. As a child I lived in the country and we had grown pumpkins with no problems. With a little research I found the answers I was looking for.
The pollination of the pumpkin flower is what begins the formation of a pumpkin. I wasn't totally oblivious to the way plants procreated but I simply didn't know the details. Apparently pumpkins grow both male and female flowers and during the growth period of the plants the pollen from the male flower must get deposited in the female flower for a pumpkin to begin growing. The way this occurs in when bees go from flower to flower and end up bring pollen from one of the male flowers to the female flower. This makes the pumpkins grow.
So when the pumpkin plant is in a location where there is few bees or no bees the flowers may not be pollinated and pumpkins do not grow. If there are few bees and they just haven't landed on the flowers enough the female flower may get just enough pollen to begin a pumpkin growth but the pumpkin soon dies after growing into a ball.
But then I thought what if you break off the male flower take it to the female flower and rub the pollen into the flower manually. That turned out to be the solution apparently this is how pumpkin growers end up getting more pumpkins and how they get pumpkins to survive without help from the bees.
Male left, Female right
Thinking about it further I realized that as a child living in the country there were plenty of bees and so there was no issues with pollination however living now in a city there was less bees present.
So for anyone looking for the best and most stable pumpkin yield I recommend hand pollination. simply remove the male flower and pull the flower petals off to reveal the stamen(which looks like a little rounded single spike). Then rub the stamen with the pollen on it in the center piece of the female flower called the stigma(which is multi-segmented with round pieces clumped together. This should give you the pumkin yield you desire.
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