Grow Q&A: Help! My Pot Plant’s Stem Is Breaking!

Dear Dan,
I have a plant that has been growing on my balcony since the first week of June (got it started a little late, but this is the first year that I have attempted to do this from seed). I live on the 3rd floor, but
there are days (like today) when there has been a ridiculous amount of wind, and I am concerned that the stem may snap because it is bending so much.

I do remember reading that “stressing” the stems and branches is actually good for the plant, as it makes them grow stronger to support it. But I am curious: how much is too much? Like is there any way to tell how much it can take before it snaps? — Veronika W. 

Dear Veronika,

While it is true that some stress on a plant’s stem can make it stronger, it’s quite easy to overdo it and wind up with a broken plant. A buddy of mine uses a hockey stick to gently “beat up” the tops of his plants as they’re growing in their vegetative stage. The tops sag for a little while, but always come back stronger. He never even has to use a trellis or stakes to hold them up.

For you, however, I would recommend either a trellis system or a well-secured stake to help hold up your plant. Also, can you build a wind-break or something to protect the plant from the wind while still allowing it to receive light? Even a small greenhouse-like structure would help enormously in reducing the stress to your plant.

Don’t miss our previous Grow Q&A: What Is The “Sea of Green” Pot Growing Technique? 

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  1. I have four plants that i am growing from seed and one of them has 3 stems. Never seen this before. I topped them at the fourth stem level and it resumed growing with only two stems with one much thicker than the other and has grown twice as fast as the other. A few days ago, i noticed the thicker stem has started to grow into two stems. It is like the two stems joined together after the topping and are now splitting on their own to become a three stem plant again. Any idea what is going on? I can’t find anything on the internet and people I’ve spoken to has never heard of this before.

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