City Name

What Are Potato Eyes? Everything You Need To Know

What Causes Potato Eyes

Worried about those creepy white and purple-colored things sprouting from your potatoes? Those are what gardeners fondly call “potato eyes”.

Potatoes grow “eyes” are typically reddish-, yellowish-, or greenish-white, centimeters-long bumps that grow randomly on the flesh. Inside each growth are concentrated amounts of glycoalkaloids: solanine and chaconine. 

We’re sure a ton of questions have been racing your mind and we’re here to answer all of ‘em! 

What Causes Potato Eyes?

What Causes Potato Eyes
Image: Mashed

Potato eyes occur naturally when your potato is in an environment that’s favorable for sprouting. To be specific, when they’ve been stored for a while in cool temperatures in a well-lit area with adequate moisture.

Having said that, the opposite conditions such as a cool, dark, and dry environment will delay your potato from developing eyes. This can help extend their shelf life and slow down the development of eyes.

Do All Potato Varieties Have Eyes?

Do All Potato Varieties Have Eyes
Image: The Kitchn

All potato varieties develop eyes at some point because it’s a natural part of their growth process. 

When and how prominent their eyes will be depends on the variety, temperature, moisture, humidity, and light conditions of their environment. 

While all kinds of potatoes have eyes, some varieties have fewer, less prominent eyes compared to other cultivars. This makes them more attractive for consumers who prefer taters with fewer blemishes.

Are Potatoes with Potato Eyes Safe to Eat?

Are Potatoes with Potato Eyes Safe to Eat
Image: Garden Gate Magazine

Generally, potatoes with small eyes are safe to eat as long as they’re removed. You’ll also need to cook the potato in high temperatures to decrease the glycoalkaloid content.

It’s natural for potatoes with eyes to have a higher glycoalkaloid content when they’re ready to sprout as their metabolic activity increases.

Take note that they’re mildly toxic. Thus, it can cause gastrointestinal distress, from cramps to vomiting, when ingested. 

Nevertheless, the rest of the potato is completely safe to eat so long as it’s firm to the touch and healthy-looking. In fact, potatoes that have grown sprouts won’t taste or feel too different when cooked.

However, if your potato’s flesh appears greenish, then it’s likely that it has even a higher concentration of glycoalkaloids. Thus, always remember that a green potato = bad potato.

How Do I Remove Potato Eyes?

How Do I Remove Potato Eyes
Image: Rural Sprout
DifficultyEasy | ●●○○○
Things You NeedPeeler or paring knife
Chopping board

To remove the eyes from your potato, use the sharp tip of a peeler or a paring knife to gently scrape the eyes off. You’ll need to dig in a bit deeper to remove the entire sprout.

Check out this easy step-by-step guide on how to do it:

What To Do
1. Check on the potato. For a potato with eyes to be considered edible, you’ll need to ensure the following:
• No greenish skin
• Only small, round eyes
• Firm when squeezed
2. Using your knife or the tip of your pointed peeler, position the blade to one side of the eye facing away from you.
3. Gently scoop the eye out
4. Repeat steps #2 and #3 for the rest of the eyes.
5. Do a quick once over to ensure that you didn’t miss any sprouts.
6. Rinse your potato thoroughly with warm water to remove any dirt.

Are Potatoes with Sprouts Good to Plant?

Are Potatoes with Sprouts Good to Plant

Potatoes with eyes are good to plant, especially since this is the best time to propagate them. You can cut each eye into sections which will grow into individual new potato plants.

Here’s how to do it!

DifficultyEasy | ●●○○○
Things You NeedSharp knife
Potting mix
Organic matter

What To Do
1. Inspect your potato. Count how many eyes your potato has grown to give you an idea on how many new plants can sprout from it.
2. Prepare your planting area with well-draining, loose potting mix and organic matter.
3. Cut your potato into multiple pieces depending on how many eyes it has.
4. Let each new potato cut heal for a day or two before planting. It’s important to give your potato cuts dry up a bit and heal before planting to avoid the risk of it decomposing in the soil.
5. Plant your potato cuts about 3 to 4 inches deep in soil with its eyes facing upward.
6. For potato cuts planted in a garden bed, ensure adequate spacing is given to avoid competition for resources.
7. Water your potato cuts deeply and regularly.
8. Hill the soil by the base of your potato plants to help shield the growing tubers from sunlight.
9. Continue to hill and water until your potatoes have reached the optimal size for harvesting. 


What does it mean when my potatoes turn green?

A potato becomes green when it’s exposed to natural and artificial light for too long. This response is a result of chlorophyll production which increases when exposed to light.
Aside from that, potatoes that have green discoloration have higher concentrations of glycoalkaloids, a natural toxin that can cause digestion issues.

Are potatoes with dark or discolored spots safe to eat?

It’s generally safe to eat potatoes with dark or discolored spots as long as they’re minor, can be removed, only on the skin, and the rest of your potato is firm and doesn’t have a foul smell. 

How should potatoes be stored to avoid growing eyes?

Potatoes should be stored in a cool, well-ventilated, dark place that’s free from moisture and humidity. Keep them in a breathable container such as a paper bag.
Apart from that, avoid keeping your potatoes beside other fruits and vegetables that release ethylene, like apples and bananas.

Are sprouts and potato eyes the same thing?

Potato eyes are the small buds on the surface of your potato’s skin. After some time, they’ll develop into sprouts that will grow shoots from where new potatoes will come from.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *