The bright colors and sweet smell of flowers tell pollinators that the sugary nectar and nutrient rich pollen they love to eat is inside. As pollinators feed, sticky pollen clings to their exoskeleton. If you look closely at a honey bee, you can often see yellow clumps attached to their legs. Those clumps are pollen.
When the pollinator travels to the next flower, some of the pollen is knocked off and new pollen is collected. The pollen that is dropped then enters the egg cells and fertilizes them. Fertilized eggs grow into seeds. Pollination is the process of moving pollen grains from one plant to another.
There are many ways that pollination can occur:
When pollination rates are low, prices for food, clothing, shelter and other products increase.
Just as there are two types of plants, there are two structures that support pollination. In flowering plants (angiosperms), pollen is created in the anther (male) and transferred to the stigma (female). Gymnosperms (non-flowering plants) produce pollen in male cones. Wind moves the pollen to female cones (micropyle), where pollination occurs. Sometimes flowers are male and sometimes they are female. In some cases, they are both. Avocados are both, but at different times!
Process of pollination
The process of pollination was figured out by Christian Konrad Sprengel in 1898. Pollination can occur within a single flower or it can occur between flowers of the same or different plants. Cross-pollination (allogamy) occurs when the pollen of one plant is moved to the flower or cone of a different plant. Self-pollination can be within the same flower (autogamy) or between flowers of the same plant (geitonogamy).
To increase production in the garden, add plants that provide nectar, color, and landing platforms for beneficial insects. Bees prefer the bright blue and violet of catmint, borage and lavender. (Did you know that bees cannot see the color red? To them, it looks green!) Hummingbirds will flock to the red, fuchsia and purple of phlox, hollyhock and butterfly bush. Fragrance is another way flowers attract pollinators. This is especially true at night, when moths and bats are out. The shape of a flower can also attract pollinators. Hummingbirds prefer long, tubular flowers, while butterflies prefer flowers with wide, flat petals.
By creating habitat for pollinators and other beneficials, you will add color to the garden and increase productivity. You will also be helping to offset harsh conditions created by concrete, smog and invasive plants.
If you were to add just one plant to your garden to improve pollination, which one would it be? Let us know in the Comments section!
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!
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