Potato flowers- good or bad?

slashyDecember 13, 2007

My potato plants, which I'm growing in a shopping trolley and have 'hilled up' three times now (the shopping trolley is now full, so no more hilling), are about a foot and a half high and beginning to develop flower buds. I'm getting conflicting information on the web about whether the flower buds are a good or bad thing: will they divert energy from the tubers, so I should remove them, or are they fine?



Here is a link that might be useful: Potato flower bud

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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Flowers are fine.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2007 at 6:15AM
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Agree, some cultivars flower profusely, others rarely if ever. Never noticed any effect on yields either way.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2007 at 8:48AM
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I agree, no problemo. To me they usually indicate that all is well with the plants (for the varieties that do flower) and that they are coming along as they should be. It sometimes indicates that you can gently dig around the outer areas to find a few new potatoes for a real treat.
Bill P.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2007 at 10:28AM
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if you are real lucky, you just might get a seed pod :)

    Bookmark   December 13, 2007 at 12:09PM
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I grew some plants recently from one of those seed-pods. From the same pod, three plants produced three different kinds of tubers. Kinda fun.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2007 at 2:56PM
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potato flowers are normal, and they're quite pretty - Marie Antoinette used to wear them in her hair - give them to some lady and tell her that (the Marie Antoinette part, you could conveniently leave out that they're just humble potato flowers)

    Bookmark   December 13, 2007 at 3:12PM
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naturegirl_2007 5B SW Michigan(5B SW Michigan)

Wow, slashy, your taters are looking great!

It is fun to read posts by gardeners from other countries. It is sometimes like learning English all over again. Your picture link in an earlier thread labeled "Hessian lined trolley" had me wondering what I would see when I opened the photo. Literally, I would expect a mass transit trainlike car lined with some kind of boots (and I'm talking shoe kind of boot, not the back end of a car!) I figured that was NOT what I would see, though. Your photo showed me all I needed to learn a few new works. I now know trolleys are what I call a shopping cart and hessian is my burlap. Interesting how I can't even understand the English I thought I knew :)

It was fun to see your trolley again. It sure is looking full. Hope you have a great harvest. Shouldn't be too much longer.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2007 at 9:35PM
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Hurrah! It kills me having to pull of most of the basil flowers (some of them are so pretty), so I'm glad I get to keep my potato flowers. Looking forward to them now. Will have to try the Marie Antoinette line some time.

Naturegirl- wow, suddenly it all becomes clear- a "burlap sack" is a hessian sack! That's been bothering me for years... the dialect differences are pretty strong, aren't they? Not just between the continents but within countries as well. I can speak "TV American" reasonably well but many of your dialects leave me completely stumped. Um, wait, "stumped" is Australian for "confused". It's even more fun when the common names for plants are completely different depending on where someone's writing from... I'd like to buy seeds for something that according to all my local seed-sources doesn't actually exist...

    Bookmark   December 14, 2007 at 1:45AM
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We use "stumped" here. It's a real americanism, y'all probably stole it from us. How about "flummoxed" - do you say that?

    Bookmark   December 14, 2007 at 1:47PM
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It is O.K. flowers or no flowers on potatoe plants as long as they have healthy growth.I have harvested plenty of tubers from both kind of plants.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2007 at 11:04PM
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Would picking flowers off of a potatoe plant damage the plant/have an effect on harvest?

    Bookmark   December 20, 2007 at 8:11PM
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I highly doubt that picking flowers off a potato plant would effect harvested amount

    Bookmark   December 20, 2007 at 11:34PM
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shapiro(5a Ontario)

Here in Ontario, Canada, potato flowering and the gradual withering of the plants afterwards means that it is time to harvest.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2007 at 8:20PM
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My potatoes growning in a Cardboard Box on the lasagna garden - stuff straw in as well as some leaf mold/compost - has been growing over 4 feet tall now and flopping over!Fed it only fish emulsion & compost. I have heard an old lady say to cut the leaves a bit to encourage the growth into the tubers. Ever hear that?
ps. I'm also not in the US.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2007 at 4:53AM
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I have grown a few potoates for the first time in a tub on my patio here in Central Scotland, where we are having a very wet summer. None of mine are flowering, so in desperation I pulled one up and low and behold I have some lovely new potatoes for my dinner tonight, so shall leave the rest to wilt before I lift them.Roll on next year when I hope to get a green house and raised bed to try other veggies.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2008 at 5:53AM
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Hello to everyone around the world! I am only a 2nd year gardener, but I am also a rogue scientist, so I have a slightly different perspective on the flowers... In theory, by clipping off the flowers, the plants' available energy will be diverted to the tubers (storage tanks). I believe that the potato plant is naturally a biennial, storing energy as starch during the 1st year, then fruiting/seeding the next. They came from the Andes Mountains in South America, where it is extremely dry and cold. In our comparatively LUSH garden environments, they obviously grow differently than they would in Chile, hence some species flower, others don't.
All of that being said, I believe it to be a heinous crime to prune such beautiful flowers! I couldn't bring myself to do it. This year, however, I think I'll try pruning off the fruit, to see if the yield increases. It should... at least in theory. Also, I have small kids, and the fruit look a lot like green tomatoes.
Like I said, I'm a 2nd year gardener, and I'd trust a farmer over a theory any day, so feel free to tell me I'm wrong!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 1:47PM
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Hello, I've got a wee veggie garden by the sea in the NW Highlands of Scotland. I usually get a decent crop in my sandy soil, but I'd never heard of deflowering potatoes till today --- Brian told me if I did this I would increase my yield. Judging by the above comments it seems pretty conclusive that Brian was wrong again. This year, for the first time, I'm growing my tatties in bags or barrels, and it sure does free up a lot of ground for other stuff. I'm quite excited to see how this compares to the traditional method, in a month or two --- I'm lucky that I have a ready supply of seaweed about 40m from my garden, and no shortage of cowpats about the place. I'll maybe keep you posted, if anyone's interested.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 6:55PM
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just wonderin how that seaweed is entered in your wee veggie garden

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 11:20PM
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This was the first year a friend came over and said"oh, its not time for your potaotes to flower" and she picked them all off! I have never picked them, always left them on, then we get pods. Always waited for the flowers and green leafs to die, then harvested. Was hoping this would not affect them. I grow yucon golds, and they are yummy :)

    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 4:33PM
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