Did flowers grow from your potato plant? Are you worried that it might affect your potato harvest in the future?
Don’t worry; we have all the answers you’re looking for! Read on to know why your potato plant is flowering and how to deal with it.
Is the potato a flowering plant?
Potatoes are flowering plants that usually produce white flowers at the end of the growing season. These flowers later turn to small green tomato-looking berries – the true fruit of the plant.
Why is my potato plant flowering?
Potato plants flower due to the high amount of fertilizers and cold and wet weather conditions, which encourage the formation of fruits on tomato plants.
A study by Michigan State University explained that potato plants flower when they are near maturity to ensure continuous reproduction.
Flowering potato plants are actually a good sign that your plant is absorbing all the water, nutrients, and sunlight it needs from its environment.
These flowers turn to green fruits with seed pods that can be replanted to make new potato plants.
However, planting these ripe seeds does not mean you’ll get the same kind of potatoes as the parent plant. This is because the seeds have been pollinated through another plant’s pollen, creating a new hybrid.
As a result, growing the same size as the parent plant’s tubers will take years. Gardeners and farmers usually replant these seeds to produce new varieties of potatoes.
On a brighter note, these flowers also signal that the potatoes or tubers underground are growing well and that it’s only a matter of time before you can harvest them.
When do potato plants flower?
Potato plants produce flowers when it is near maturity or at the end of the growing season during early summer. This comes between 55 to 60 days after planting.
The flowers bloom for a relatively short period of time. It waits to be pollinated to turn into fruit, but if it doesn’t, it withers and falls off the plant.
When should you harvest potatoes after flowering?
To get small potatoes, harvest them 2 to 3 weeks after the plant stops flowering. But if you want mature and large potatoes, harvest 2 to 3 weeks after the plant dies.
During the 2 to 3 weeks after the plant’s death, the tubers underground undergo a ” curing” process. This is the time when they develop thicker skins so they will last longer in storage.
• Do not wash potatoes upon harvest.
These potatoes are usually found on the first 6 inches below the surface. Just use a rag or brush to remove the dirt after harvesting them.
Only wash your potatoes once you are about to use them because it will decrease their shelf life.
• Handle potatoes gently.
Be careful also in using a shovel or fork in harvesting since you can cut or bruise the potatoes, making it quick for them to rot.
What do potato plant flowers look like?
Potato plants grow small clusters of white, pink, or purple petalled flowers with bright yellow stamens. These potato flowers produce green fruits with proper pollination and cold, wet weather.
Are potato flowers edible?
Potato flowers are not edible and are highly poisonous. They contain the toxic chemical solanine, which causes diarrhea, abdominal pain, and headaches in humans.
These flowers are enticing to children, so you’d better keep them away from the flowering potato plant to prevent getting poisoned.
• Prune the flowers.
Pinch the flowers or use gardening shears to cut at the base of the flower stem. This will help the plant focus more of its energy on growing larger yummy potatoes underground.
Are potato fruits edible?
Potato fruits are not edible because they contain high levels of solanine, a poisonous substance that causes headaches, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, especially in children.
Potato plants produce small green berries that look like cherry tomatoes. They taste bitter because of the poisonous alkaloid, solanine, that it contains.
Children might confuse these berries with green cherry tomatoes, so better keep them away from these toxic fruits.
This toxic substance is also present on the stems, leaves, and even the sprouted potatoes, so avoid eating them as well.
What to Do When Your Potato Plant Flowers
You can do three things to make the most out of a flowering potato plant – apply “hilling,” increase watering and grow new potatoes. Here’s how.
1. Apply hilling to potatoes.
During this time, you should apply “hilling,” where you cover extra soil on new growths on the potato plant. This keeps the tubers covered from the sun and keeps weeds from growing near the potato.
If these potatoes are not covered, they may work their way up to the surface, be exposed to sunlight, and then turn green.
We wouldn’t want our potatoes to turn green because this means they produce the toxic substance solanine, causing illness to anyone who consumes them.
Here’s how to “earth-up” your potato plant.
|15 to 30 minutes
|Things You Need
|• Garden fork or spade
|How To Do
For Potatoes on Ground
1. Remove the weeds growing near your potato plant.
2. Dig trenches that are 4 to 6 inches deep and 2 feet apart.
3. Mound up the soil in between these rows.
4. Add compost at the bottom of the trench.
5. Loosen the soil using a garden fork.
6. When the potato plant is already 6 to 8 inches tall, mound the soil from the center of the row towards the plant’s stems.
7. Gently mound the soil until only the top leaves are visible above the ground.
8. Repeat “hilling” of the soil when the plants grow another 6 to 8 inches, usually two weeks after the last “hilling.”
9. Continue the process until the potato plant is covered with 12 to 18 inches of soil.
For Potatoes on Pots
1. When you see shoots growing on the surface, add 5 centimeters of compost.
2. Repeat this at regular intervals until the container is almost full.
2. Keep your potato plants hydrated.
Since potato flowers signal the formation of tubers underground, this is the best time to ramp up the watering of the potato plant.
Potato plants generally need 1 to 2 inches of water per week. Young plants should be watered every 4 to 5 days.
By the time the potato flowers and the tubers form, you should add at least one extra watering a week for your potato plant. This means you should water your potatoes every 2 to 3 days.
This will ensure that your potatoes get maximum nutrients to help their formation during the growing season. It also keeps the soil temperature cooler which potato plants love.
• Use the drip irrigation method.
We highly recommend drip irrigation in watering potato plants. It helps direct water to the roots where it’s most needed and even prevents the growth of fungi and bacteria that cause many plant diseases.
Overwatering will cause the plant to die early and the underground potatoes to rot while underwatering will lead to fewer and small potato yields.
So, water in the proper amount and directly onto the roots for every growing stage of the potato plant, as we discussed above.
• Scale back on watering before harvest.
Scale back on watering before harvest or when the leaves turn yellow, and the plant starts to die back. Stop watering for 1 to 2 weeks to help the potatoes toughen up their skins and last longer in storage.
3. Grow potatoes from the fruit seeds.
Like any berry, you can grow new potato plants through the fruit seeds. However, every seedling grown from these seeds is genetically unique.
These new potato plants will produce tubers with different characteristics than the parent plant, creating a new variety.
Grow potatoes from fruit seeds by following the steps below.
|15 to 30 minutes
|Things You Need
|• Potato berries
• Glass of water
• Paper towel
|How To Do
1. Mash the berry to separate the seeds from the fruit.
2. Mix the mashed berry into a glass of water.
3. Let it sit for 1 to 3 days until you see the seeds settling at the bottom of the glass.
4. Strain out the top debris from the seeds.
5. Dry the seeds and plant them in your garden.
6. Keep the temperature around the plant between 55 to 65°F (12 to 18°F). Make sure also that the seedlings get 14 to 16 hours of sunlight per day.
7. Seedlings will emerge within 7 to 10 days from planting.
8. You can transplant them anywhere after growing to 4 to 6 inches tall.
9. Plant these hardened seedlings at least 8 inches deep, where only the leaves are visible on top of the soil.
Can you dig potatoes before they flower?
Potatoes can be harvested before flowering, but expect small and thin-skinned potatoes since they have yet to finish their formation process.
• Harvest potatoes on a dry day.
Dig in the soil and get new potatoes on a dry day. When temperatures get too warm (80°F or 27°C), the tubers stop forming, so harvest them right away so you can still use them.
• Dig out only what you need.
New potatoes have thin and fragile skins, so they’ll only last a day or two once you harvest them. So gather only what you’ll need and leave the rest to keep growing.
FAQs on Flowering Potato Plants
Potato plants will still produce large and healthy tubers even if it does not blossom flowers. After the leaves turn yellow and the plant dries, you can still harvest mature potatoes after 2 to 3 weeks.
Potato flowers can be used to signal that harvest time is near. Generally, once the plant produces flowers, potatoes are ready for harvest after 2 to 3 weeks.
Potato plants stop growing after the plant dies. But do not throw them right away because you can still harvest tubers after 2 to 3 weeks after their death.
Potatoes are neither flowers nor fruits but are tuberous root parts of the potato plant. However, potato plants also produce flowers and fruits, which are unfortunately poisonous.
True potato seeds refer to the seeds formed inside potato plants’ fruits. Breeders use them to develop new varieties of potatoes.
Seed potatoes refer to the potato tubers used for planting, not the seed from potatoes’ fruits. They are grown for their buds which are planted to create new potato plants.
A potato plant is a herbaceous perennial plant cultivated for the tuberous starchy crop it grows underground.
Potatoes and tomatoes come from the same family, the Solanaceae, known as Nightshades. Nightshade family members, like peppers and eggplants, usually produce flowers that become fruits after pollination.
Potato plants may grow small green tomato-looking fruits, but these are actually inedible and poisonous berries.