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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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