Help! My Potatoes Plants Are Falling Over

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floppy potato plants

Zac from Berkeley, California was worried about his potato plants flopping over so I asked him to send in a picture. I thought maybe YOU and I could help him.

Here is what Zac had to say:

I have six 30 gallon plastic grow bags full of potato foliage and now flowers on some. After hilling them in as much as possible, I’m now staking the stakes to keep them upright.

This is the photo I took this morning.  Not all of them have been staked (yet).  But I’m on the alert if I have to do so. I’m figuring that they’ve reached their height potential now as flowering buds are starting to form on most.

I did some searching on the Internet and got mixed opinions about what’s going on with them. Some folks said not to worry about it since its the roots we care to eat. Others thought it would be best to prop them up to allow them to grow more!  I just began staking them after a few of the larger stems snapped off!

Cheers!

Zac

(Berkeley, CA)

Well Zac, I think your potato plants look great. But, I am worried your grow bags are not deep enough. If there was a way to set your grow bags in deeper ones, remove the old bags and add some more soil,  you might get a larger crop of spuds.  But otherwise I think you are right, your potatoes are nearing the end of their cycle.

Stay Green,

Mavis

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Comments

  1. Stephanie says:

    You can put some posts around them, wrap some chicken wire around each grow bag, and add leaves or straw to continue hilling.

  2. Katherine says:

    I agree you need to hill more. You shouldn’t have that much green going on up top. However, you can hill with straw and such if the weight is a problem in your bags.

  3. Now there is something I have NEVER seen before. Staking tomatoes!! Tomatoes do flop, its part of their nature. Some never grow upright and just loll around on the ground all the time. Just like some varieties never flower. I don’t know your varieties over there but here we have some very early varieties, tha are ready to eat in 6 weeks. Could you have an early one, the never produce as much leaf and lose the upright presentation quickly.

    It looks like they are a bit loose in the soil and could be packed down a bit more, but maybe they are just fruiting prolifically and loosening the soil.

    I would be more concerned about the yellowing of the leaves. That is more indicative of problems. Maybe they are not draining out and are just sitting with wet roots. Maybe they need magnesium – a cup of epsom salts dissolved 2 gallons of water and watered on every two weeks could help, or seaweed fertiliser. The stems look pretty puny so it may well be a nutrient deficiency. Blood ad bone or my favourite, sheep poo pellets give adequate nourishment

    If you have had very hot weather, they may be cooking in the black bags – its not the ideal thing to grow them in as they do not retain water or nutrients as the soil heats up to much. Or they could be ready to eat as new potatoes. Do you water them often enough? Do you water them too much? If they are in a full sun sitting on a paved or compacted surface? This can restrict drainage

    I would get rid of the stakes tho, that could be stressing the plants too. In all my years, I have never heard if anyone staking tomatoes.

  4. This is my first year doing potato towers. I have also never done red potatoes or russett and gold potatoes, they grow differently than sweet potatoes (which make amazingly beautiful ground covers).
    My towers have at least 6″ left to ‘hill’ in more dirt or straw. Hopefully good tips come here to help me later when I need it!

  5. Danielle H says:

    I planted my potatoes in a giant 45 gal plastic plant pot from a nursery, and quickly ran out of room to hill mine up too. I agree with the other comments – yours should be hilled more if possible, and there’s no reason I know of to stake them. Just get a roll of some sort of wire fencing or similar, and wrap it around the container like I did to make a tower. I secured it with little metal flags because I can just pull them out when I’m ready to harvest, and re-use the fencing later for something else. Now that mine are getting tall, I hill them with grass from my lawn mowing or mowed-over leaves from last fall. If they’re hilled regularly, the idea is that the tubers (potatoes) will get the majority of the plant’s energy, and the tops (green part) will never grow that big. That’s energy that should have gone into taters.

  6. I grew potatoes last year for the first time. Yukon gold in a wooden container. Basket type. I never got any flowers but I did get potatoes. First we ate then I left the rest because they seemed small. This year I noticed that I was getting new leaves and very hefty. So I brought two more containers, a bag of Hokan gold and a bag of small red potatoes. It was March and the weather her in California, Los Angeles. So I planted these as well at that time. My plants all falling again this year, I figured it was because they are s tall. I started to tie them up bu decided not to. Again no flowers, some plants are dying. I notice that both Yokan golds are surfacing in both boxes. I just cover with. Kore soil as I did last year. They are rather small. My concern is the falling over but most that I have yet to have seen not one flower either year. should I be concerned. Should I look for 2 or 3 harvesting s? Thanks. I also have a question regarding asparagus . Any one grow them? I’ve tried seeds and bare dry roots.

  7. Thanks All for your advice/tips/experience.

    I will take it all under consideration as I “deal” with my potatoes now and future ones for sure.

    Just to answer a few questions though….

    The grow bags were purchased from Grow Organic as ideal for growing potatoes. Hence my surprise when the potatoe kept growing well above the tip of the bag. (The bags have holds in he bootom for drainage.)

    And I think there is little chance for me to build towers around the plants at this stage… The plants are starting to flower so the “end” is near I figure and I’ve missed a chance for more studs this time around.

    Thanks again…

    Cheers!!!

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