In order for flowering plants to bear fruit and create new seeds tiny particles of pollen must get from one flower to another.
In the wild this sticky, dust like substance is either blown by the wind, or moved by animals brushing past, and by insects such as bees and butterflies.
Pollen is produced by a flower’s stamens and awaits transfer to the pistils of another. Self pollination is the term given to one flower pollinating another on the same plant, and cross pollination is where pollen travels from one plant to another.
Nectar and pollen go hand in hand tempting pollinators, usually insects or birds, with sweet rewards of sugars, oil and proteins. They are attracted by the bright colours of flower petals and scents caused by the release of aromatic oils. Whereas other plants, such as Dandelions, which principally rely on the wind for pollination, don’t produce insect bearing, colourful petals.
Over the last fifty years there has been a noted decrease in insect numbers, possibly due to urbanisation, making gardens increasingly important as a bio diverse habitat for bees and butterflies. Indeed in the course of a summer a large hive can support 60,000 bees producing 50 kg or more of honey.
For indoor plants we can create a wind effect with an electric fan or hair dryer on a no heat setting. Also gently shaking the flower stems sometimes suffices. Another method is by using an artist’s soft paintbrush to brush the flower petals gently whilst taking care not to bruise the plant.