Where Do Potato Seeds Come From?

Have you ever seen potato seeds at your local big box store or hardware store? Most people probably have not seen them. But if that is the case, the question is, how do potatoes grow?

Do Potatoes Really Have Seeds?

Potato plants do have seeds. Potato plants produce flowers. But usually, these flowers dry and fall to the ground without producing anything. If you live in a cooler area, you may see potato plants with small green fruits. That’s the case because the potato flower needs cool weather to fruit. These fruits contain seeds. These fruits on the potato plant look like cherry tomatoes to some people, but they must never be eaten. That’s because potatoes are a member of the nightshade family, whose plants and unripened fruits are poisonous.

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True Potato Seeds

You can purchase seeds to grow potatoes. Some experts recommend that you purchase heirloom seeds. Heirloom seeds produce vegetables that have been grown for a long time. Some experts define heirloom plants as those being grown before the year 1951. Heirloom plants are naturally pollinated, which may be referred to as open pollination. This allows the characteristics of the plants to be passed down to each generation of the plant. This is important to ensure the size, flavor, and growth will be what is expected by the grower. Growers can also select the seeds from the best tasting or most productive plants.

So What Are Seed Potatoes?

You may hear people refer to something called seed potatoes, which can be called tubers. Seed potatoes are small potatoes that you plant to produce your crop of potatoes. You can purchase them in small bags where you find other seeds.

Is There A Difference Between Potatoes Grown From True Seed VS. Seed Potatoes?

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Actually, yes, there is a difference. Potatoes grown from seed potatoes are an exact genetic match to the parent plant, also known as clones. Those potatoes grown from a true seed are not clones. This means that they can have different characteristics than the parent plants.

What Are Heirloom VS. Hybrid Plants?

When you hear people discussing potatoes, you may hear the terms heirloom and hybrid. So what’s the difference? As we discussed above, heirloom plants are naturally pollinated and have been harvested for a long time. Many people feel as though it is important to preserve these natural forms of plants for future generations.

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On the other hand, hybrid plants are made up of two or more cultivars. A cultivar is a name for a plant which is selected for growing. A hybrid plant is developed by growers to have desirable traits from its parent plants.

So Why Doesn’t Everyone Grow Heirlooms?

Heirloom plants may not have the resistance to disease that hybrid plants have. This is true because many hybrid plants are cultivated by growers to be disease resistant. Don’t worry though—if you choose to grow heirlooms, there are things you can do to help them fight off common diseases. Many gardening experts recommend planting heirlooms in containers with a soilless medium, which can be purchased at your local nursery or big box store that sells gardening supplies. You can also rotate your crops to help prevent diseases that affect the soil.

How To Grow Potatoes

growing potatoes

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Let’s talk about what potato seeds and plants require. Potatoes require full sun and good drainage. Porous soil is best for potato seeds. Soil with a pH of 4.8 to 6.5 is ideal for potatoes. You can test your soil with an inexpensive soil testing kit if you’d like, but it’s not required. You can add fertilizer formulated especially for potatoes to your soil to improve your crop as well.

As we have discussed already, you can grow potatoes from potato seeds (also referred to as true seed) or from seed potatoes. Now, let’s talk about each of these methods.

Planting From True Seed

Planting From Seed Potatoes

Can I Just Plant A Potato From The Grocery Store?

The answer is yes, you could, but you probably don’t want to do so. The reason is that your plant would probably not grow very well, if at all. The potatoes you buy at the store are probably treated with something called a growth inhibitor. This prevents potatoes in the store from sprouting as they sit on the shelves waiting to be purchased by the consumer.

buying potatoes from the market

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So you could cut up pieces of the potato you purchased at the store and replant a part of it. This is referred to as growing the plant vegetatively. However, the plants may not sprout. If you are a beginning gardener, you may want to use seed potatoes to give you a better chance of success for your potato crop.

As The Potatoes Grow

Potatoes grow under the soil. If they become visible, they can turn green. To prevent this from occurring, pile up the soil around the plant during the growing cycle. The process of piling up the soil around the potato plants can also be referred to as hilling. Only 6 inches of the plant top should be able to be seen.

Harvest Time

harvested potatoes

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When you think the growing cycle is complete, dig up a few potatoes to see how large they are. If you want new (young) potatoes, dig them up when they are about 1 inch or more in diameter. Harvest other potatoes according to the directions listed with the seeds or seed potatoes. If you want to store potatoes after harvesting them, allow them to remain in the ground until after the autumn frost for about 2 to 3 weeks. 

Brush the dirt from the potatoes and store them in a humid area with low light at about 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Conclusion

It can be rewarding to plant your own garden and see the fruits (or potatoes in this case) of your labor. As we have explained here, potatoes can be grown from true seed or seed potatoes. As they grow, potatoes must be tended to prevent greening. At harvest time, they can be dug up and enjoyed immediately, or stored for later use. We hope that this information has been helpful and that you have discovered more about potato seeds and how to plant them.

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Lucy M. Clark
 

Hi there! I’m Lucy, and I’m a self-confessed garden fanatic. Gardening has always been a passion of mine and will always be my favorite pastime. Now that I am married and have one adorable son, I have the time to write and share my personal experiences with other garden enthusiasts like me.

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