Potato plants

Asked May 18, 2020, 12:43 PM EDT

My potato plants leaves are starting to yellow. Is it to early? Is this normal? Are do you think there is something wrong with them? If it's not how long does it take to start dying off? Should I stop watering? I attached pictures.

Harris County Texas

3 Responses

Thanks for your question!

Your potato plant looks good! I am quite impressed at just how healthy it is! Even my own potato plants in my own garden are dealing with some insect and disease injury.

The single yellow leaf is normal! Most potato varieties are ready to be harvested in about 95-110 days after planting. This is certainly the time of year for potatoes to be dying off as part of their normal life cycle. The amount of time it takes for the top to die off and dry down is going to depend on the variety and on the environmental conditions.
My advice for you is to keep caring for the plant, although I would keep it just slightly more on the dry side as the top continues to die back and the potatoes are maturing. Potatoes are ready to be harvested when the top starts to die and the skin on the potatoes is "set." Gently expose one of the underground potatoes and rub it with your thumb (with normal pressure that you might use if handling the potato normally). If the skin rubs off, then they are not quite ready to harvest. If you can rub the potato with your thumb and the skin does not rub off, they are ready to harvest!
The only critique I have about your potato plant is that it looks rather tall and "leggy," meaning its stems are stretching as far as they can, and spreading out the leaves as much as possible to capture more sunlight. I believe your plant does not get enough sunlight. Potatoes do best with full sun.
Regardless, you have done a great job growing it! Get ready to enjoy freshly-harvested potatoes! You can cook them up as soon as they come out of the ground, or you can store them in a cool, dark location until you are ready to eat them.

Happy gardening!

Thank you for the compliment. I didn't plant these potatoes until April 14, only 36 days ago. They are Yukon gold. Isn't it to early for the yellow process to start?. They are not in the sun at all. I will move them to a sunny area, and put more wood chips on top. I will slow down on the watering. To keep them more dry. . Could i have planted to many potatoes in my container, I planted 5 in a 7 gallon. Now a few stems has died already see photos. Thank you from the beginner 1st time planting potatoes.

How are they doing now that you've moved them to the sun and made some other changes?

You're dealing with several challenges, mainly late planting and no sun. No, 5 in a 7 gallon container is not too many.

Potatoes are native to the Andes mountains of South America. Thus, their preferred climate is cool and mild. Potatoes do best in your part of Texas when planted in mid-February. They prefer the cooler temperatures and shorter day lengths of late winter/early spring. They respond to the lengthening of daylight hours in spring by flowering and ceasing growth. They recognize that summer is coming and they begin to die back to the ground. Potatoes naturally turn yellow and the tops fall over and die in May, indicating that it is time to harvest.
Unfortunately, your potatoes were planted too late for optimal growth.

Additionally, potatoes need full sun to grow best. Your plants are extremely tall and "leggy" compared to typical potato plants grown in Texas. I dont have any experience with planting potatoes late in the season or growing them in shade. So, I cannot tell you if you will have success. The changes you have made are the best that you can do to give your plants the best chance possible.

Some people have success also planting potatoes towards the end of August, growing them into the fall. You might consider trying again in late August.
Best of luck!