Tuber Blooms: Understanding Potato Blossoms


“I ordered the Kennebec potatoes and even though the seed potatoes looked sick, they all came up except one, and they look beautiful. My question is that yesterday I went out there and something bit and snipped off the blooms.  The stems are still standing, but the blooms are all gone. How does that impact my outcome?  The only thing I can think of is that it
might have been a bird or birds as the only explanation because nothing else on the plant has been affected. . . no broken stems.  Will I still have potatoes at the end of the season???

Joanne”

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Hi Joanne,

Thank you for the email regarding the blossoms on your potatoes.  First of all, the demise of the blossoms will not negatively affect your potato crop. If anything, it may even help them to be bigger because the flowers use up resources from the plant that could otherwise be going to the tuber development.

The potato flowers are the plant’s way of setting seed.  Assuming that the blossoms had stayed on the plant and were pollinated, they would have formed clusters of tiny fruits that resemble a cherry tomato but on a cherry stem. The fruits ‘ripen’ from a green to brownish color and have 100s of seeds inside.  The seeds can be dried and planted.  The potato fruits and seeds are very poisonous and should not be eaten!

In Latin American countries that have a year-round growing season, the seeds from the potato are planted and grown to have a crop of tubers.  Because we have winter in the northern climates, we are not able to grow potatoes from seed and have a crop in the same year.

If you are curious about growing potatoes from seed for fun, the best fruit-forming variety seems to be Yukon Gold.  I always seem to have a few fruits form on those when I grow them.  You can collect the seed and plant it in pots in the house over winter.  When spring comes, you can transplant the potatoes out and have a crop from them.  It’s probably not the way you want to go if you are hoping to have a large amount of plants in your garden, but something fun to do (especially if you have kids or grandkids that are interested in gardening).

 

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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