Potatoes are very versatile, not just because of their many uses in cooking but also their ability to grow using various methods. Potatoes can be grown in various ways, including in-ground beds, raised beds, pots, bags, buckets, storage containers, drums, barrels, and even in hay or straw without adding any soil! So, can we grow potatoes upside down too?
Yes, potatoes can be grown upside down. Proper containers are required as well as drilling of a hole to allow for proper drainage.
First, let’s look at the method for growing potato plants upside down and how to care for the plants.
How to grow potatoes upside down
You may need to make an upside-down planter. Materials needed are a hook or a place to hang the planter, a 5-gallon bucket with a handle, a drill, a potato plant, and soil. Alternatively, you can buy a planter from a hardware, gardening store, or online.
- Get a potato plant – It would be challenging to sprout potatoes in an upside-down container. Start by placing a small potato or piece of potato about the size of an egg into a pot of dirt. Make sure the piece of potato has an eye. It’s the dimpled part of a potato where it sprouts. Cover the potato with a couple of inches of soil and water well. Keep the soil moist. Once the green leaves appear and the plant is a few inches tall, it’s ready to be transferred to the upside-down planter. Some plant nurseries sell potato plants.
- Make an upside-down planter by drilling a hole at the bottom of the bucket. The hole should be wide enough to fit the plant through but not have soil or the plant fall out, about two inches wide. You may want to consider drilling additional smaller holes around the bucket to help with drainage.
- Attach the hook to a surface that can support the planter’s weight, such as a pole. Hang the planter by its handle.
- Plant the potato plant. Ideally, this step should be done with the bucket hanging to avoid damaging the plant. Remove the plant from the pot where it was sprouted. Do not shake the dirt loose from the potato plant; you don’t want to disturb the roots, and the soil attached to the roots will help keep the plant in place. Lower the plant into the planter and through the hole. Gently fill the planter with the soil. Consider mixing in some compost as potatoes love rich soil. Water well.
How to care for a potato plant
Water – Water the potato plant thoroughly and regularly. Inadequate watering can cause potato plants to become easily stressed. Stop watering the plant 2 – 4 weeks before harvesting.
Sunlight – Potatoes need at least 6 hours of sunlight daily.
Pests – Watch out for pests. Inspect the plants regularly and pick off any beetles or eggs you see.
Nutrition – Use a fertilizer specifically made for potatoes.
Harvesting – You can harvest potatoes after the plant flowers. Keeping in mind, these potatoes will be tiny and need to be eaten right away. The longer the wait, the larger the potato will be.
Why would you grow potatoes upside down?
- Space is limited – Growing potatoes upside down can save on space or make better use of a small space.
- Can help prevent certain plant diseases – Plants can be affected by bacterial and fungal diseases, and potato plants are no exception. Improper watering practices help spread diseases. When infected dirt splashes up onto the plant’s leaves or when water sits in leaves during hot and humid weather, it creates the perfect conditions for diseases to thrive. You can avoid getting the potato plant leaves wet with an upside-down planter.
- Less maintenance – Unlike traditional potato growing methods, there’s no need to dig or hill upside-down potato plants as they grow.
- It can be fun – Growing potatoes can be a fun learning experiment for adults and children.
Downsides to growing potatoes upside down
- It requires strength – Growing potatoes upside down may not be suitable for everyone because of the physical strength needed to lift or lower the planter filled with soil. Keeping in mind that potatoes grow under soil, a larger container and more soil will be needed than other upside-down planters where other fruit or vegetables grow above ground, such as tomatoes and peppers. The minimum planter size recommended is 5 gallons.
- Drainage may be tricky – Potato plants need proper drainage to survive. If you purchase an upside planter, it may already have drainage holes or be made of a material that efficiently removes excess water. If you are making your planter, you may want to consider making additional holes for drainage.
- It can be messy – Keep in mind that the top of the upside-down planter will be open. Falling water and dirt from watering, rain, or drainage holes can create a mess.
- It’s just not practical – In general, growing potatoes upside down is not the most ideal for the potato plant and the gardener. The plant may become stressed by following what it naturally wants to do and grow upwards towards the sun. The weight of the soil can hinder both the root development and growth of potatoes. Potato plants grow shallow roots that are actually relatively thin and small. Potato tubers do not like competing with heavy soils. You may be able to avoid hilling and digging, but the work that goes into making a planter, cleaning up messes, and figuring out how to keep the plant growing healthily may not be worth the final harvest.
Consider other ways to grow potatoes
Whatever your situation, there may be a way to grow potatoes to suit your needs.
- Growing potatoes in pots or potato towers is a great alternative when space is limited.
- If you have the space but are looking for ways to grow potatoes without all the dirty work, try growing potatoes in straw. This method eliminates the need for digging trenches, hilling the plant, then digging again to harvest the potatoes.
- Try a grow bag with a flap for those trying to avoid digging about potatoes or minimize damage during digging. The flap is located at the bottom half of the bag, which allows you to stick your hand in and pull out the potatoes.
- As an alternative to buying or building garden beds, potatoes can be grown cheaply in containers such as storage bins, buckets, or trash cans. Better yet, you probably already have some spare containers that can be reused. Growing in containers also doesn’t require digging as they can be tipped over to harvest the potatoes.
However, if you choose to grow your potatoes, we hope you have a good experience. Happy gardening!
Hi there, my name is Allie and welcome to my blog; GareningWithAllie!
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