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Self-Pollinating Vegetables

The tomato flower is self-pollinating it contains both male and female reproductive parts.
Tomato flower
The tomato flower is self-pollinating it contains both male and female reproductive parts.

Some vegetables are self-pollinating meaning they do not need the assistance of bees or other insects or the wind for pollination and the production of fruit.

Self-pollinating vegetables include tomatoes, green peppers, and chili peppers, eggplants, green beans, lima beans, sweet peas, and peanuts.

Pollen is required for a flower to produce fruit. Self-pollinating vegetables have what is called “perfect” or “complete” flowers because each individual flower contains both the male (anther) and female (stigma) flowering parts necessary for fertilization and fruit production. Pollen must pass from the anther to the stigma for fertilization to occur. Some vegetables—squash plants for example–produce separate male and female flowers—those flowers are not complete or “perfect.”

If self-pollinating vegetables are not producing fruits, you can help them along. When a self-pollinating plant is flowering you can simply give it a gentle shake or shimmy to help the pollen drop. You can also use a soft cotton cloth to fan the flowers—again helping the pollen to drop from the anther to the stigma.

Also of interest:

Hand Pollination of Vegetables

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. Harvesttotable.com has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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  1. You say to lift the cover off eggplants so bees can pollinate them but in another article written by you you say they are self pollinating. Which is correct?.

    • Eggplants are self-pollinating; however, there must be a bit of movement for the pollen to drop. For greatest success, gently shake a self-pollinating plant to help the pollen drop. Or if you have a large garden, like we do, let bees and other insects help the pollination process. Bees are our insurance policy. We love bees!

    • Eggplants and peppers are self-pollinating. When the plant flowers give the flower trusses a little shake to help the pollen drop. If the plants did not flower, feed them with a solution of 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt mixed in one gallon of water.
      Read the linked articles for more tips. If temperatures are too hot or too cold, pollination will not occur.
      How to Grow Eggplant
      How to Grow Peppers

  2. Thanks!! We were trying to grow plants in our screened in lanai. Now I know why the green beans are doing okay. I will have to move the zucchini out of the screened in area though! Huge help!

  3. thank you so much! I never knew self pollinating flowers existed, and i was worried about not having done enough for my greenbeans

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