If you’re like me, you can’t wait to get your little potato plants in the ground and watch them grow. Potatoes are such versatile vegetables, they thrive in many climates and under different conditions, and they are easy to grow. This article will answer the question, ‘What do potato plants look like when they are ready to harvest?’
When Do You Harvest Potatoes?
Potatoes are usually planted in late March or early April, and they can be harvested as soon as the tops begin to die back. This could happen anywhere from 60-120 days after planting, depending on your climate and the variety of potato plants.
White potatoes are usually ready to harvest when the skins thicken, and the eyes near the surface of the potato start to turn green, that’s around 70-80 days after planting. On the other hand, red potatoes are typically ready to harvest after 60-70 days after planting.
What Do Potato Leaves Look Like?
Potato plants generally have oval-shaped leaves with smooth edges and a glossy sheen. They are light green in color, although some varieties may be more yellow or blue-green than others. The leaf size depends on the variety of potatoes, but it can range from about five inches long to nearly 12 inches long! You can also see flowers growing out of the top of the plant, and eventually, little potatoes will start to form underneath the soil.
White Potato Leaves:
White potato leaves are typically a darker shade of green than red potato leaves. They tend to be more oval in shape and have fewer lobes if any at all. Additionally, they do not have the same glossy sheen that red potato leaves do.
Red Potato Leaves
Red potato leaves are smaller than white ones, and their shape is more rounded or heart-shaped with lobes along the edge of each leaf. They tend to be a brighter shade of green than white potatoes – almost like neon! They have a glossy sheen that white potato leaves lack.
Yellow Potato Leaves
Yellow potato leaves are very similar in shape and size to red potato leaves, but they have a lighter green color. The main difference between red and yellow potatoes is that yellow ones tend to have more lobes along the edge of each leaf.
Purple Potato Leaves
Purple potato leaves are like a combination of white, red, and yellow potato leaves – they’re larger than both types (about six inches long) but smaller than white ones (about four inches). Their shape is more oval with smooth edges, so they look like white potato leaves. However, purple potatoes tend to have more lobes along the edge of each leaf than either type (about three or four).
What Do Potato Plants Look Like When They are Ready to Harvest?
The best way to know when it’s time to harvest your potatoes is by examining the potato plant’s leaves. This will be your giveaway as to whether the potatoes are ready or not.
The first sign that you will notice is that the foliage starts to turn yellow – regardless of what type of potato plant you have. This means that your potato plants are almost ready for harvesting – but not just yet. You have to wait for your potatoes to fully mature.
As your potatoes reach maturity, you’ll notice that the leaves will stop growing, and the leaves will start to die back. That yellow foliage will turn brown, its tops will wilt, and the leaves will begin to fall off. This usually happens 2 weeks after the leaves have turned yellow.
At this point, your potatoes are ready to harvest! Just dig underneath the soil where you see most dead leaves are, and you should find some nice, plump potatoes waiting for you.
What Do Potato Plants Look Like When They are Ready to Harvest: Additional Reminders:
- If you’re unsure whether your potatoes are ready for harvesting, you should wait until most of the foliage has died back and fallen off before digging them up. This way, you can make sure that they’ve fully matured by checking their size underneath the soil (they’ll be bigger if they have been allowed time to grow).
- You can also try to give your plant a slight tug – if it comes out of the ground easily, then your potatoes are probably ready to harvest.
- Avoid overwatering your potatoes because this can cause rot. The top inch of soil should be damp but not wet for optimum growth.
- Avoid planting in areas that have been flooded before or are prone to flooding – these will make harvesting difficult and could result in rot or disease problems down the road.
- Avoid planting near trees or large shrubs because they will compete with your potatoes for light and nutrients. You want to plant them in areas where there’s plenty of sunlight so that they can grow well.
- Potatoes should be harvested in the morning when the soil is coolest. This will help prevent them from rotting after being dug up.
- When you’re harvesting your potatoes, try not to damage them – this can cause them to rot. Gently dig underneath the plant and lift it out of the ground, being careful not to puncture any potatoes with your shovel or spade.
Related article: When to Harvest Potatoes: A Complete Guide