Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

A Gardening Miracle Explained: When Potatoes Produce Tomatoes

Potato fruits (Solanum tuberosum).

You’ll see this in newspapers or on television to every 4 or 5 years (the time, I suppose, that the media forget they were taken in 4 or 5 years previously).

Someone calls them to announce that a miracle occurred in their garden, that their potato plants are producing green cherry tomatoes! And the medias rush over, capture images as proof and announce, very seriously, that Mr. and Mrs. John Doe have developed a potato that produces tomatoes. It doesn’t take long for more experienced gardeners to set them straight: the next day they publish a retraction, because the potato plants were not producing tomatoes, of course, but simply typical potato fruits.

The sudden appearance of fruits in their potato plants can easily catch less experienced gardeners unawares, since in most climates, potato plants only produce fruit occasionally, every few years or so, when growing conditions are just right. And since tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) and potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) are close relatives, it is not surprising that their fruits are similar. But woe to he who decides to eat the green “tomatoes” produced by potato plants, because they are highly poisonous!

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

1 comment on “A Gardening Miracle Explained: When Potatoes Produce Tomatoes

  1. Pingback: My Potato Plants Aren’t Blooming! – Laidback Gardener

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