Male vs. Female Vegetable Plants
Exactly like animals, plants reproduce through sexual reproduction, and their flowers contain reproductive structures and cells. Unlike animals, however, plants vary as to if their flowers contain both male and female structures, separate female and male flowers on a single plant or flowers of just one sex each plant. Understanding how some frequent vegetable crops’ reproduction works will be able to allow you to boost their crop.
Botanists call flowers that have both male and female reproductive structures flawless flowers. These plants can pollinate themselves, although pollinators such as bees, butterflies and wasps also can visit these flowers and carry pollen from plant to plant. Many common vegetable crops, like beans, peas, tomatoes and onions, could self-pollinate. When you plant self-pollinating vegetable plants, then you’re ensured a crop, regardless of the plants’ access to pollinators.
Plants with female and male structures in separate flowers are considered to have pristine flowers. Every one of these monoecious plants contains both female and male flowers. The most frequent monoecious plants in the vegetable garden belong to the cucurbit family and comprise pumpkins, squash, cucumbers and melons.
Pollination Factors for Monoecious Plants
Fruits form on a monoecious plant when pollen from a male flower comes into contact with a female flower. Since a monoecious plant necessitates pollen transfer in order to create vegetables, the plant must have access to pollinators. Multiple pollinators visiting a single female flower results in large, well-shaped fruit. Pesticides that kill pollinators and obstacles that prevent pollinators from accessing the flowers — like closed greenhouses or row covers — lead in plants that do not produce fruit. You can hand-pollinate monoecious plants like squash and cucumbers in the lack of adequate pollinators. The first step in the process is to recognize the female and male flowers. A female flower has a grape-sized swelling at its base; following pollination, the swelling increases in size and grows into fruit. A male flower has slender filaments known as stamens at its center. Use a small paintbrush or cotton swab to collect pollen from the stamens, and brush the pollen into the center of female flowers.
Dioecious plants produce only male or only female flowers on a single plant. In the vegetable garden, dioecious plants are relatively uncommon. Asparagus and strawberries have separate male and female plants; because these plants are grown for their foliage and never their fruit, but the intercourse of the plants doesn’t matter, if you don’t would like to save seeds. Some hybrid cucumbers have separate male and female plants, too. If you choose among these varieties for the garden, plant enough seeds to get both female and male plants, and ensure pollen transfer between plants, either through pollinators or hand-pollination.