What Do Potato Plants Look Like?

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What Do Potato Plants Look Like?

Potatoes are a great choice for growing your own vegetables due to how much you can do with them.

If you have the tools, you can make homemade fries, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, or even homemade chips. 

If you are new to the gardening and vegetable growing scene, you might need to brush up on your potato knowledge before planting, and that’s where we come in!

What do potato plants look like? In this article, we will look at the basics of the potato plant, such as what they look like and the best time to plant them, so that you have all the information necessary to begin thinking about creating your own potato garden! Let’s get started. 

What Are Potatoes?

Potatoes are a starchy type of root vegetable that is widely cultivated and consumed around the world. Solanum tuberosum is the scientific name for the common potato and it belongs to the nightshade family and is native to South America.

Potatoes come in various shapes, sizes, and colors, ranging from small fingerling potatoes to large russet potatoes. They are a good source of carbohydrates, fiber, and several important vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, potassium, and B6.

Potatoes can be cooked in various ways, including boiling, baking, frying, and roasting, and are a staple ingredient in many traditional dishes, such as mashed potatoes, French fries, and potato salad.

What Do Potato Plants Look Like? 

Potato plants have compound green leaves and stems that can grow up to 2–4 feet tall and small, white or purple potato flowers that will bloom in the summer.

The leaves are typically dark green and slightly glossy, and the stems are thick and sturdy. The underground tubers, the actual potatoes, form where the stem meets the root.

They are usually brown or reddish-brown on the outside and white or yellow on the inside.

When Is The Best Time To Plant Potato Plants?

The best time to plant potato plants depends on your climate and the variety of potatoes you are growing.

Generally, it’s best to plant potatoes when the soil is around 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit and when the danger of frost is no more.

For areas with short growing seasons, it’s best to start potatoes indoors a few weeks before the last expected frost before transplanting them outside after the frost has passed. 

For areas with long growing seasons, potatoes can be planted directly in the ground as soon as the soil can be worked.

It’s also important to note that potatoes need a period of cool weather to form tubers, so planting them too early in the season can prevent them from forming properly.

When Are Potato Plants Ready To Be Picked? 

Potato plants are ready to be picked when the leaves become yellow and die back. This typically happens about 2–4 weeks after the plant has flowered, depending on the variety of potatoes you are growing.

Another way to tell if potatoes are ready to be harvested is to dig up a few tubers and check their size. They should be fully formed and the size of a mature potato.

Tubers left in the ground too long can become tough and less desirable, so make sure you get your timing right.

Harvesting potatoes before the first frost is important to prevent tuber damage.

How To Grow Potato Plants

How To Grow Potato Plants

Let’s have a look at how to go about growing your own potato plants. 

  • Choose seed potatoes: Purchase seed potatoes from a reputable source or save some from another crop if possible. Make sure they are firm, clean, and free from disease or damage.
  • Prepare the soil: Potatoes grow best in well-drained, fertile soil, so remove any rocks or debris and amend the soil with compost or well-rotted manure.
  • Plant seed potatoes: Cut large seed potatoes into pieces, ensuring each piece has at least one “eye” (a small indentation). Plant seed potatoes 2–4 inches deep and 12–18 inches apart in rows 24–36 inches apart (see more about planting potatoes here).
  • Water and fertilize: Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Fertilize the plants with a balanced fertilizer when they are about 6 inches tall and again when they start to flower.
  • Hill-up soil: As the plants grow, “hill-up” soil around the base of the plants covers about 2/3 of the leaves. This helps to keep the developing tubers (potatoes) covered and protected from sunlight, which can cause them to turn green and become inedible.
  • Keep an eye out for pests and diseases: Potatoes are susceptible to pests such as potato beetles and diseases like late blight. Look for any signs of trouble, and take action as needed.
  • Harvest: Wait until the plants have flowered and the leaves have started to yellow and die back before harvesting your potatoes

Harvesting Your Potato Plants

To harvest potato plants, you must wait until the plants have flowered and the leaves have started to yellow and die back. This is an indication that the potatoes are ready to be harvested.

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  • Gather your tools: You will need a garden fork or spade, a container or basket to collect the potatoes and gloves (Like the durable DOFOWORK Gardening Gloves).
  • Carefully dig around the base of the plant: Use the garden fork or spade to dig around the base carefully, being careful not to puncture any of the tubers.
  • Take the plant out of the ground: Gently lift the plant out of the ground, shaking off any excess dirt.
  • Sort the tubers: Sort through the tubers, discarding damaged or diseased ones.
  • Clean the potatoes: Potatoes should be washed and dried before storing.
  • Store the potatoes: Allow the potatoes to dry for several days in a warm, dark, and well-ventilated place. Once dry, you can store them in a cool and dark place.

You may not need to dig around the plants if you have planted potatoes in a raised bed or container like the Best Choice Products Outdoor Metal Raised Garden Bed.

Remove the container or raised bed and harvest the potatoes.

*For our top recommended raised garden beds for seniors, please see 5 Best Raised Garden Beds for Seniors: Comfortable and Easy-to-Use Options

Also, it’s important to harvest potatoes when the weather is dry to prevent rot or decay. Harvest them all, as they will not ripen after being picked.

Frequently Asked Questions on What Do Potato Plants Look Like

Q: What do potato plants look like when ready to harvest?

A: Potato plants are ready to harvest when the foliage turns yellow and begins to die back. The leaves will become crispy and start to fall off.

To confirm the readiness, gently dig around the plant to check for mature potatoes. Harvest when the skin is firm and the tubers are a desirable size.

Q: What do potatoes look like when they’re growing?

A: Potatoes, when growing, appear as leafy plants with green stems and leaves. The plant produces small, white or purple flowers.

Underground, potatoes develop as tubers, typically round or oblong, with rough, tan skin. The size and color of potatoes may vary depending on the variety, typically round or oblong

Final Thoughts On What Does Potato Plants Look Like

Potatoes are a widely cultivated crop, highly valued for their versatility and nutritional value. So, what does a potato plant look like? Well, the appearance of potato plants varies throughout their growth stages.

In the initial stages, potato plants emerge as small, delicate shoots from the soil. These shoots gradually develop into leafy green stems stretching towards the sky, eagerly soaking up the sunlight.

As the potato plants grow, they produce clusters of beautiful white or pink flowers that add a touch of vibrancy to the surrounding landscape. These flowers serve an essential role in the reproduction process of the potato plant, attracting various pollinators, such as bees and butterflies.

So, in summary, potato plants start as tiny shoots, mature into leafy green stems with beautiful flowers, and finally yield a bountiful harvest of potatoes when the foliage turns yellow and begins to fade.

Whether in the garden or on your plate, potatoes truly showcase their natural beauty in every stage of their growth.

Please enjoy some delicious potato dishes.

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