7 Issues Why Potato Plants Don’t Grow (Solution Inside!)

Why are my potato plants not growing?

You may ask, why did my potato plants not produce potatoes?

There are 3 main reasons why potato plants will not grow.

  1. The soil does not have the necessary nutrients and the pH might be too alkaline.
    Depending on which food grew in the spot prior will determine if the soil has enough nutrients and pH. Potatoes like an acidic environment somewhere between 6 and 6.5.
    To provide the soil with enough nutrients for the plants to feed on it is recommended to spread about a 6 inch depth of horse manure on the surface and let the micro-organisms do their thing for about 3 months.
    This way you will have the perfect soil for potato plant growth.
  2. Irregular watering can easily kill your plants.
    You need to water the potatoes at least once every week if not twice depending on the climate. To preserve the moisture it is best to put hay over them, the hay will also aid in keeping the soil around free of weeds.
    Each plant needs roughly a gallon of water.
  3. Temperature.
    If the temperature rises above 25°C/77°F the plant will stop producing tubers. (Source: Cornell University)
    If you decide to cover the plants with black plastic bags, make sure you measure the temperature of the soil, you might be doing more harm than good.


Problems growing potatoes in containers

There are a few problems you might encounter but there is always a way to fix them.

  1. The first one that you might encounter is root rot.
    Your drainage might be the problem or you are just overwatering the bag, you need to take into consideration that water will accumulate in the bag or container instead of spreading like it would in a free environment.
  2. Edema is another issue that is water related. This will happen when you water the container too much. The plant absorbs too much water and it tries to get rid of it through its leaves.
    Simple solution, less watering!
  3. Another water related issue with containers is water is not seeping deep enough.
    Depending on the container the water will seep through a few inches and it will go to the edges and go down.
    Using a PVC pipe with drilled holes in it will aid the soil in water absorption. Inserting the pipe in the center of the container will ensure an even spread of water.


Can you cut the tops off potato plants?

Yes you can. The main question is; will they regrow?
If you wish to cut the tops of potato plants make sure you are doing it 2-3 weeks after the first sprout for whatever reason you might have. 

If you do it 4-7 weeks after, the plant will not have enough time to regrow.
Doing it 8-9 weeks after the first sprout is already near the end of the life cycle and they’re mainly ready to be harvested.

It is recommended to harvest them right after 10 weeks.


Potato leaves turning yellow before flowering

This is a good sign if you see it at the end of the growing season, it means the potatoes are ready to be harvested.

If you see this happening during the mid growing season, it might be caused by too much water in the soil and you would need to check the drainage.
Another issue might be rot diseases, fungicide is your best bet.


Why are my potato leaves drooping?

One of the reasons could be that the potatoes are ready to be harvested!
Again, too much water! Make sure you have adequate drainage, if not you will encounter root rot, and fungus.

Dig 6 to 8 inches down and see if the soil is water-logged. If it is, try digging a small trench along the potato plant row and aid in draining the soil.


Can you eat potatoes that have not flowered?

Yes you can! The only issue you might encounter is that the yield is very small and might not be worth harvesting in the first place. Harvesting potatoes that have not fully flowered will also help the soil retain its nutrients.
However we recommend waiting for the flowering process to begin so that the potatoes have a chance to get bigger so you can enjoy a nice big yield.


Are potato plant leaves poisonous?

Yes they are! Potato plants produce solanine; it’s a steroidal alkoloid that acts as a pesticide.
Potatoes are part of the nightshade family, just like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. This means the veggie itself will be safe to it but parts of the plant might be poisonous.
Avoid eating them because you will start to feel sick, it rarely leads to death but it can if consumed in large quantities.