What is better than growing vegetable plants all by yourself in an environment you know and with the materials you have prepared yourself? Nothing, right?
But what if your favourite vegetable plants start to take you towards a nightmare and present you with all the possible challenges in this world? As unfortunate as it sounds, it is true!
One of the most common vegetable houseplants are potato plants. If you have decided to grow them in your backyard, you must have come across people scratching their heads over “Why are my potato plants falling over”.
Falling over of potato plants is by far the most common problem proposed by potatoes, but it is okay, because as common as the problem is, the reasons and solutions are equally appealing.
In the following article, we will lead you towards all the possible causes of your potato plants falling over. Understanding the reasons would dispense us with the first step of treating the plants.
Next, we’ll look at easy and highly effective solutions to help your plant achieve better health despite the underlying cause. Consequently, we’ll also visit some of the care tips to keep potato plants at the best of their health.
Without further ado, let us begin!
Why Are My Potato Plants Falling Over: Causes and Tips
Potato plants will start to fall over when they are mature, or are over fertilized, have a leggy growth, or are ready to be harvested. How to figure out the right cause for your plant? Here’s how!
Learning about the symptoms of each of the causes that your potato plants show, will precisely direct you towards the right direction of understanding the prevailing situation of your plants. Here are some of the causes and their solutions that you should look for.
Also Read: Potato Leaves Turning Yellow, Black
Your plants are matured!
When you fail to make out the exact time of maturation and harvest for your plant, it tries to tell you itself by falling over.
That is, when the plant has been completely matured, the part of the plant that sits just above its ground starts to fall over, following the yellowing of the leaves.
This tells us that the growth of the plant is complete and it has reached the end of its life cycle. The maturity period of the potato plant varies from one to another.
While some plants get as big as 45 inches, others prefer to stay as low as 12 inches. To know the height of maturation of your plant, you will need to assess its rate of development before arriving at a conclusion.
Princess Laratte Potato and Red Luna Potato are the two varieties that vary greatly in their heights of maturation, and so you should be careful about planting potatoes of a similar variety.
Having said that, the average height of maturation of your potato plant ranges from 18 inches to 24 inches.
So, what should you do when the potato plant has matured? For once, do not resort to immediate pruning of your plants.
Pruning or topping your plants after their complete growth has been attained is not good for the future growth from the same plant. It tends to slow down the process by limiting the growth and potentialof the rest of the yield.
The best time to start harvesting the tuber potato plants is right after they fall over. If you wait for long, you might be putting your plant’s life at risk.
Another important consideration is to track the growth of your potato plants to know their expected date of maturation. If you harvest your plants before or after their expected maturation date, it might not be a good idea.
To calculate the date, flip over to the side of your potato seeds packet and simply read out the expected date. If no date is mentioned, you can track down the day when they were planted and check up on them after 2.5 months.
Normally, potato plants do not take more than 2.5 to 5 months to grow up to their maximum potential. This should give you an idea of when to harvest them.
Also Read: What Are the Easiest Potatoes to Grow?
Potato Plants Dying Before Flowering
Another concern that most people are faced with is regarding the flowering of potato plants. The truth is, they can sometimes mature even before they start flowering.
Therefore, it is not suggested to wait for flowers to appear. If you see them falling over, don’t let them die. Instead, harvest them and consume it any way you want.
Too tall potato plants
Why your potato plants have started to fall over is also related to the height of your plant. If it has gone way too much, and has started to fall over before maturing, you know where to place your suspicions.
Potato plants have a definite average height to achieve till they mature. Too tall growth of plants before they have matured directs to the problem that can be due to the underlying factors.
The primary cause is overfeeding by the use of fertilizers that are disproportionately and excessively rich in nitrogen. Nitrogen rich fertilizers promote the healthy growth of plants above the ground. If used in abundance, it can lead to issues that are hard to resolve in the aftermath.
Another disadvantage of using too much fertilizer on your potato plant is that the potatoes, which are the essence of the plant, would not grow. Their production reduces and only the leafy part remains. This will leave you with nothing to consume.
How to deal with too tall potato growth is the question?
Hilling technique is a mechanism and treatment strategy that is opted by many potential gardeners to deal with overgrown potato plants.
Hilling technique requires the gardeners to engage in constant piling up of soil from the foundational point, as and when the plant grows.
As you pile up the excess from the base of the plant, you will notice that this soil supports the plant in a way that it stops it from stooping low and falling over.
Piling does not only support your potato plant as it falls over, it also effectively acts to protect your green plant growth from excess and direct sunlight and the toxins that are present in the environment.
Another effective technique that is usually trusted by many when growing tomato plants is staking them. Staking involves the use of stakes that stand erect with the growth of a plant to support it from bending and falling over.
Staking also works wonders with potato plants and is comparatively easier to practice than hilling. You can start by staking each potato plant and providing it with a sturdy support.
A word of caution for staking is to never tie the plants and stakes too tight. It can hurt the plants, restrict their growth, and even kill them. Additionally, it is advised to keep your potato plants at a distance of 6 inches if you are installing stakes.
Also Read: Can You Plant Potatoes that Have Sprouted
Too extreme temperatures can negatively impact the growth of your potato plants, thus leading to them falling over. Experts say that this is a common problem when the plants are potted in containers.
Potatoes grow best when they are kept at temperatures ranging from 16 to 21 degrees celsius, which is 60 to 70 F. Potatoes are very particular about the temperatures they grow in, it is best not to interfere or meddle with their preferences.
Potato plants do not form or refrain from growing further if the soil temperature moves from 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. For reasons like these, it is advised to plant potatoes in the middle of each season. Neither in the beginning, nor at the end.
Potato plants also act as forgiving partners if you plant them at light spring frost. However, do not let the frost turn into snow. It is also advised to let the frost go from the soil before you plant potato tubers in them.
If you do not seem to reason with the weather of your surroundings, you can try and protect your potato plant growth by neatly covering them up in row covers. Wrap them in a way that the plants do not prune out.
Row covers ensure that your plant receives adequate protection in the face of extreme temperature ranges.
Inappropriate watering conditions
Not frost and neither tall plants, then what is it? Have you tried considering the way you water your potato plants? If not, now is the time!
Watering potato plants inappropriately is not something that these plants expect. They are very particular in their watering needs and often backfire if not handled nicely.
Improper watering techniques, bad quality water, overwatering, or underwatering are all some of the inappropriate watering conditions that we put our potato plants through.
Overwatering potato plants leads to waterlogging in the soil of the plant. This restricts the soil from getting enough oxygen. As a result, plants start to fall off.
Also Read: How Often to Water Potato Plants?
Root rotting is the most common problem that arises due to inadequate watering conditions of the plant. When the roots rot, the foundation of your plant gets disturbed. Therefore, it becomes difficult for them to hold the entire plant straight. Thus, falling over of plants.
If you witness the edges of your leaves folding or getting brown without any reason? Chances are that you might be underwatering your potato plant. This is an early indication that tells you to start taking the hydration needs of the plant more seriously.
How to know when to water your potato plants? Here is what you can do!
Take the finger test. Insert your finger in the soil and feel if the soil is wet or arid. You’ll know the texture once you do so. Next, if the soil seems to be doing fine or is wet, do not water it for another week.
However, if the soil is arid and has cracks, start watering your plant steadily. Do not overwhelm your plant by watering it too much.
Additionally, keep your potato plant moist throughout the scorching heat summer days. They require maximum water. You can use a sprinkler to do so.
Water your plants before noon. This ensures that your plant gets dry before the night. If they do not, use a dehumidifier to do so. Keeping plants wet during nightfall makes them vulnerable to fungal infections.
As panicky as the situation of growing potato plants sounds, with the right understanding of how things work, you can actually create the most wholesome experience for yourself!
The aforementioned causes and tips would help you achieve the right understanding of what your potato plants expect from you.
Remember that falling over of potato plants does not mean the end of life for your plant, and with the right set of equipment, you can work to revive them in no time.