I like to grow potatoes that I can use to cook up some delicious Indian recipes. But I wanted to know if trimming the top of the potato plants would be beneficial or not.
You can trim the tops of your potato plants but only when the potato tubers are ready for harvest. If you trim the tops before this time, the potato plants won’t have sufficient foliage to get enough nutrients by making their own food.
There is a time when you should trim the top of the potato plants so the tubers can get ready for harvest. I’ve written the details below that you should find useful.
When should you trim the top of your potato plants?
Once flowers start developing on the potato stalks, that’s a sign the potato tubers are growing underneath. Now you can harvest the potatoes if you wish. But if you harvest them immediately, you’ll get young, small, and immature potatoes.
You can let the potatoes continue to grow and harvest them only when the leaves start to wilt. Then you will get mature and large potatoes.
Make sure to remove the flowers from the potato stalks as this helps the plant redirect all its energy in growing large and starchy potatoes.
Once your potatoes are ready for harvest as per your liking, you can trim the top of your potato plants.
The other situation where you should consider pruning potato plants is if the vines are attacked with a pest or disease. It’s best to get rid of such vines as it helps the potato plant avoid spending energy on fighting the problem. And focus its energy on growing new foliage and tubers.
Another situation where you may need to trim the potato plants is if the stalks have grown too tall. This can happen if you are overfeeding the plant with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer.
The plant can topple over due to the weight of the tall stalks. And the potatoes won’t grow well because the plant is spending a lot of energy on growing foliage.
How to trim the top of your potato plants?
You can use a pruner to cut off the top of the potato stalks keeping an inch of it from the ground. If you trim the potato stalk to the ground, there’s a chance that the tuber gets exposed to the air. That will cause the potatoes to turn green and become inedible.
Once you have trimmed the potato tops, keep the potatoes in the ground for 1-2 weeks. This helps the potatoes to develop a thick skin. You will be able to store such potatoes for several weeks or months without any problems.
What do I do if my potatoes don’t flower?
I told you that the sign of flowers is an indication that the potato tubers have started growing. But there can be some potato varieties that don’t flower at all.
You can still understand when to harvest the potatoes by looking at the leaves. If they start to wilt or turn yellow, that’s a good sign that the plant has started dying and the potatoes will soon be ready for harvesting.
How tall should my potato plants grow?
You should only allow your potato plants to grow about 8 to 12 inches tall. Once this height is reached, you need to “hill” the potato plant.
This means you need to cover about 3 to 6 inches of the stem and leaves of the potato plant with soil. It helps protect the potatoes from sticking out of the soil and turning green and inedible.
It also helps make the plant more stable and allows the tubers sufficient space beneath the soil to grow well. It also encourages additional growth of tubers from the stem and leaves that were covered with the soil.
How long can I leave potatoes in the ground?
Once the leaves have wilted, the potatoes are ready for harvest. You can leave them in the ground for 2 to 4 weeks without any problems as long as there is not too much moisture in the soil.
Make sure to stop watering the plant otherwise you risk causing potato rot or regrowth of the plant. Keeping potatoes in the ground helps them develop thick skin that can protect them from rot and disease. It also helps them last longer either in the refrigerator or a cool, dry, place.
Why are my potato plants leggy?
Your potato plants can become leggy because they are not getting the required amount of sunlight. This forces the potato plants to reach out for the light and become thin.
The main reason for this problem is your potato plants are getting too much shade. Maybe they are planted near a larger plant or tree. Or maybe they are getting shaded by a wall or fence.
Sometimes, the potato vines may have grown a lot of foliage that is causing the sunlight to be blocked. You can prune some of the vines and leaves to prevent this problem in that case.