What Do Potato Plants Look Like: Pictures & Signs
If you want to grow potatoes in your own garden, things can be a little more difficult than you expect. The most tricky part is that potato plants grow under the soil, and their leaves don’t have distinct characteristics that can be indicators for indoor growers. Additionally, potato plants do resemble other homemade vegetables, say, tomatoes.
So what do potato plants look like in different stages, and more importantly, how to know when the potatoes are ready to harvest? In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the appearance of potato plants in different growth stages and guide you through what potato plants look like when ready to harvest.
Table of Contents
Potatoes During the Seedling & Early Vegetative Stages
The whole potato-growing journey takes about 12 weeks to finish. If everything goes well, you’ll see the potato plant emerging from the soil in 3 to 6 weeks after planting the seeds. These young sprouts will develop into small and delicate green leaves that may consist of one or two pairs of leaflets. Obviously, tuber formation has not yet begun during this early growth phase.
Potatoes During the Vegetative Stage
When the potatoes are about 6 weeks old, you’ll notice clear lush foliage and rapid leaf expansion. The compound leaves, with their multiple leaflets, grow larger and more intricate, resembling a hand-like structure. As your potato plants grow, the leaves continue to expand and unfold, maximizing their surface area to capture sunlight effectively and trigger the process of photosynthesis. However, at this stage, potato plants focus solely on leafy growth. No flowers or tubers are formed yet.
Potatoes During the Flowering Stage
The growth of the potato plant continues to progress upward and outward until it eventually reaches the flowering stage, usually taking place around 8-9 weeks after planting. At this crucial phase, the plant redirects more of its energy toward the production of potatoes beneath the soil, therefore, its leaves and foliage will gradually start to reduce in height.
Depending on factors such as soil fertility and the potato plant variety, your potato plant may reach a height of about 3 feet and spread out to cover an area of approximately 3 feet as well.
The petals of these flowers may occur either individually or connected to one another, with many displaying charming points or delicately ruffled edges. The color palette of potato flowers is diverse, spanning from pristine white to vibrant shades of blue, purple, and pink.
Towards the end of the flowering stage, the potato plant begins to allocate energy towards tuber initiation. This marks the commencement of tuber development, as the plant prepares to store nutrients in the underground tubers.
What Do Potato Plants Look Like When Ready to Harvest
Although flowers are a clear indication that the plant is entering the stage of tuber production, it’s essential not to jump to easy conclusions and harvest your potatoes. Premature harvesting may result in small, underdeveloped tubers, which may not be ideal for consumption.
To achieve a successful potato harvest, waiting for the potato plants to show the initial signs of starting to die back is a recommended approach. As the potato plant matures and nears harvest time, the foliage above ground begins to change color. The once vibrant and lush green leaves may start to turn yellow, indicating that the plant is reaching the end of its life cycle. Meanwhile, the foliage starts to wilt and lose its turgidity.
By harvesting your potatoes at this opportune time, you stand a great chance to obtain potatoes of desirable size and quality. Furthermore, it helps to prevent potential damage caused by pests such as slugs and wireworms, which are more likely to emerge and harm the potatoes once the plant has entirely died down.
From their distinctive foliage and flowering stage to the mature tubers underground, each phase offers unique insights into the stages of plant growth. Patience and careful observation are essential in determining the optimum time for harvesting flavorful potatoes. By recognizing visual cues such as leaves color changing and wilting foliage, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest.
FAQs about What Do Potato Plants Look Like
- How do you identify a potato plant?
You can identify a potato plant by compound leaves with multiple leaflets arranged in a palmate or hand-like pattern. The stems are sturdy and may have a slightly hairy texture. As the plant grows, it produces attractive flowers in various colors.
- What does a potato plant look like fully grown?
A fully grown potato plant typically stands around 2 to 4 feet tall. It has lush foliage with expanded compound leaves and may display flowers with five-petal structures. The plant’s main focus shifts to tuber development beneath the soil.
- What does a potato plant look like when it’s ready?
When a potato plant is ready for harvest, its foliage may start to turn yellow, and the leaves and stems might begin to shrink in height. The tubers beneath the soil would have reached maturity and acquired thicker skins, making them ready for a flavorful harvest.