United States Edition

Potato

Solanum tuberosum

Potato is part of the Solanum genus. Its scientific name is Solanum tuberosum. The botanical name epithet for Potato (tuberosum) means 'tuberous'.

Potatoes are a popular and easy plant to grow in the home garden, with a huge variety of different cultivars to choose from. The edible tubers of the potato plant are a popular staple in dishes around the world.

There are basic four categories of potatoes:

  • First Earlies
  • Second Earlies
  • Main Crop / Early Main Crop
  • Late Main Crop

As their name suggests, these groupings are categorised by their harvest dates, with “first earlies” being the first in the season to be ready to harvest. They also indicate the space you will need in your garden to grow these varieties – so if you are short of space, try to concentrate on growing earlies rather than main crop. Earlies are also less likely to suffer from pests and diseases as they are in the ground for a shorter period of time, so it’s worth factoring this in if low maintenance is your goal for your garden.

Potato grows as a perennial and is a flowering edible vegetable. Being a perennial plant, it tends to grow best over several years (approx 3 years and greater). Potato is known for growing to a height of approximately 3.90 feet (that's 1.20 metres in metric) with a forb habit. Expect blooming to occur in early summer and harvesting to start by mid summer. Try planting Potato if you'd like to attract bees to your garden. Consider Yukon Gold, Red, Russet, Charlotte and Kennebec to grow as they are very popular with home gardeners.

Chile is thought to be the country of origin for Potato.

Potato is normally quite a low maintenance plant and is normally very easy to grow - great for beginner gardeners!

This plant info is provided by the myfolia gardener's wiki. All details about Potato have been kindly provided by our members.

How to grow Potato

  • Partial Sun

    +
  • Medium

Do not plant potatoes where tomatoes have been planted the previous year. Do not plant potatoes in the same place in succession. Grow potatoes in full sun with little or no shade.

Remove any flowers from the potato plant as this will divert energy away from the tubers.

A partial sun position will ensure your plant thrives and remember to water moderately. Potato tends to grow best in a soil ph of between 5.0 and 6.0 meaning it does best in moderately acidic soil - weakly acidic soil. Keep in mind when planting that Potato is thought of as tender, so it is imperative to wait until temperatures are mild before planting out of doors.

Growing Potato from seed

Potatoes are generally grown from the eyes of another potato and not from seed. The tubers need to be chitted (i.e. sprouted), in order to accelerate their maturity and shorten the growing time needed to get a good crop of new tubers.

How to chit potatoes
In late winter to early spring, place the tubers in an old egg-box, or lay them out in a tray. Position them so that the end or face with the largest number of eyes is facing up to the light.
Place the trays in an unheated, frost-free room, in filtered light (not direct sunlight).

Ensure a distance of 11.7 inches (30.0 cm) between seeds when sowing - look to sow at a depth of approximately 5.85 inches (15.0 cm). Soil temperature should be kept higher than 15°C / 59°F to ensure good germination.

By our calculations*, you should look at sowing Potato about 14 days before your last frost date .

Transplanting Potato

Plant your chitted potatoes out when the soil has begun to warm up.

Planting potatoes into a garden bed
Dig a trench about 10cm deep (main crop may need a little deeper, and earlies a little shallower). Sprinkle in some fertiliser and then place the seed potatoes with the shoots pointing upward 30cm apart for earlies, 40-50cm apart for maincrop. Cover with a thin layer of soil. As soon as the shoots appear, “earth up” by making a mound of soil around the shoot so the shoot itself is just buried – do this regularily throughout the season until the mound reaches around 15cm in height.

Ensure that temperatures are mild and all chance of frost has passed before planting out, as Potato is a tender plant.

By our calculations*, you should look at planting out Potato about 14 days before your last frost date.

Harvesting Potato

Potatoes are ready for harvest when the foliage starts to die down and turn yellow. For new potatoes, harvest a couple of weeks after the first flowers show. Main crop potatoes are ready for harvest in mid autumn. Remove all soil clinging to the potato and leave on top of the soil for a couple of hours to dry out and store in boxes.

Seed Saving Potato

While it is uncommon for home gardeners to save true potato seed, it is both possible and easy. Pollinated potato flowers develop large, round seed pods. Harvest when dry, break open, and save the enclosed small seeds.

Plant / transplant on a schedule similar to bell peppers.

Companion plants for Potato

These plants have been known to grow well alongside Potato so consider planting:

  • Potato loves Horseradish

    Horseradish is good for increasing the disease resistance of potatoes.

  • Potato loves Garden nasturtium

    Helps to deter potato beetles.

Repellent plants for Potato

These plants will not grow well with Potato so avoid planting these within close proximity:

Potatoes and tomatoes are attacked by the same blight.

  • Potato hates Cucumber

    can transfer diseases such as phytophthora blight.

  • Potato hates Summer squash

    can transfer diseases such as phytophthora blight

  • Potato hates Winter squash

    can transfer diseases such as phytophthora blight

  • Potato hates Melon

    can transfer diseases such as phytophthora blight

Common Potato problems

These problems, diseases and pests are known to affect Potato plants:

  • Early Blight

    Can be caused by periods of wet weather in the spring just after transplanting. Can be seed or soil borne

Potato Etymology

The English word potato comes from Spanish patata.

Potato Folklore & Trivia

  • The potato was first cultivated at around 800 BC
  • Potatoes are more nutritious when eaten with the skin on.
  • Potatoes were the first vegetable grown in space in 1995.
  • Europeans consume twice as many potatoes as Americans per year.
  • Potatoes are second only to milk as the most consumed food in America.
  • Treat facial blemishes by washing your face daily with cool potato juice.
  • Treat frostbite or sunburn by applying raw grated potato to the affected area.
  • Treat a toothache by carrying a potato in your pocket.
  • Treat a sore throat by placing a slice of baked potato in a stocking and applying to the throat.
  • Treat aches and pains by rubbing boiled potato water (cooled) to the affected area.

Other names for Potato

Potatoes, Tatties, Potties, Patate

Solanum andigena

Misspellings: Potatoe, Potatoes, Potatos, Potoato

Latest Potato Reviews

See all Potato reviews and experiences »

Potato care instructions

How long does Potato take to grow?

These estimates for how long Potato takes to sprout, grow and harvest are from real observations from real gardeners, right around the world. Start logging and journaling your observations to participate!

When should I plant Potato?

Our when to plant Potato estimates are relative to your last frost date. Enter your frost dates and we'll calculate your sowing and planting dates for you!

Footnotes

Potato Forums

  • Potatoes

    Let's talk about potatoes! What varieties do you like or suggest? What techniques have you found to work the best?

    71 members / 18 topics

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