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Contained potatoes plants dying back

Posted by missnish 9, Orlando, FL (My Page) on
Wed, Apr 30, 14 at 10:20

My potatoes were planted March 4th. They grew like weeds. Faster than anything else in my garden then suddenly I noticed last week the inner plants were dying back. They started turning yellow. I blamed it on the plant growing so large that the inner leaves weren't getting any sunlight but as days went on, the problem grew worse and worse to the point where I know think something else might be wrong with the plants. I try not to over water. I do live in Florida though where it rains every few days. I make sure to look at the weather and not water a day or two before if I know it's going to rain soon. I check the soil 1inch deep to see how wet it is too. I've been known to over water so I have to keep myself in check haha. The plant to the left is fine. They get the same amount of care and both are in the same size container. Anyways, this is my first time growing potatoes (or any veggies). Could anyone give me some advice on what the cause my be or what I can do? Thank you in advance :)

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Contained potatoes plants dying back

What kind of potatoes did you plant? Early potato varieties often mature in 60 days, so in that case your potatoes would be doing exactly what they should be doing at this point. They die back when they're done.

You can harvest some new potatoes any time, or wait until the tops are completely dried up, and then you'll know your spuds are as big as they're going to get, and the skins will be somewhat cured (for storage help.)

If what you planted was more of a 90 day potato, then maybe someone else will have an idea what is making them die back early. Either way, you probably have some potatoes in there.

RE: Contained potatoes plants dying back

  • Posted by digdirt 6b-7a North AR (My Page) on
    Wed, Apr 30, 14 at 11:46

Agree that it depends on the variety and are they the same variety in the other container?

Otherwise overly wet soil or the lack of proper feeding are the two most likely causes.

They also appear to be leggy with very long internode lengths due to insufficient sun exposure. That makes the stems stretch and leggy plants have a tendency to fall over since the stems can't easily support the weight of the heads.


RE: Contained potatoes plants dying back

Potatoes are relatives of tomatoes and can get the same diseases, which are many. Some diseases are carried by insects, so be sure to control them. What kind of potting soil did you use? If there was any garden soil, it could be some kind of wilt or fungus. They look a little crowded. I've been growing potatoes in 20-gallon and larger containers for four years and have learned that it's better not to plant too many. 4 or 5 seed potatoes per 20 gallons is about the max. Also I've learned that in spite of looking pretty horrible on top, I usually get nice clean potatoes in the pot. So don't give up until all the top growth has died back.

RE: Contained potatoes plants dying back

I know probably potatoes more than any vegetable.

Number One: You have probably planted TOO many seeds in that container. I can count over 15 stems there. And no wonder they are leggy.

Number Two: your plant looks normal (foliage wise), considering your climate.

Number Three: For zone 9, FL, you could've started early. They kind of shut off when the soil temperature reaches/exceeds 70F. Even if you get lush green foliage, they will not set tubers. Depending on the variety, they need 80 to 120 days (from seed to harvest). Just like tomatoes there are EARALY, MID and LATE varieties. For places like FL, perhaps you need to grow EARLY variety.

RE: Contained potatoes plants dying back

It is the heat more than anything else and that was considerably exacerbated by being in containers. Early march is overly late to plant in the Orlando area - mid to late january is the correct time. A half-zone north in Lake county I plant in late january and that generally strikes a good balance between mostly avoiding frost-nip to the emerging foliage and the mature plants running into long hot days. Greater Orlando has much fewer frost events, depending of where you are you might even plant in late December.

RE: Contained potatoes plants dying back

I planted red potatoes bought from the farmer's market. This book I'm reading said to plant in March so I did. I'll try February next year. I put 4-5 potatoes per gallon 15 gallon container.

Thank you all for your comments and advice.

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