Why do my potato crops keep failing? What you’re doing wrong, and how to solve the problem

Planting potatoes can be a fun and rewarding project. They are one of the most nutritious vegetables suitable for any diet. Potato plants are known to be one of the easiest plant species to grow. There are many scrumptious varieties to choose from.

Just about anyone can take on this gardening project. There are many different methods to choose from when growing potatoes. Each with their own set of step by step instructions on how to successfully grow potatoes.

Keep in mind that no matter the method or container used to grow Potatoes there are optimal growing conditions that need to be met for Potato plants to thrive.

Reasons for a failed Potato Crop

On instances where potato plants fail to grow, there are specific reasons for it. Carefully analyze what could have happened to your crops to have stopped it from developing. Seeking to understand the real reasons the yield failed is crucial to make sure it won’t happen again.  

Plant only certified seed potatoes

The beauty of Potato plants is that they are grown from Potatoes themselves. The problem is that not all Potatoes are suitable for planting. One needs only to plant Potatoes that have eyes or sprouts.

Potatoes that come from the supermarket or commercial store would be selling Potatoes that have been treated to prevent the eyes from sprouting. Consumers tend to shy away from buying unsightly fruits and vegetables.

Untreated Potatoes don’t look pretty enough to be sold in stores. Grocery shoppers refuse to buy less than smooth Potatoes which will hurt the store’s sales. To remedy that, grocers treat their Potatoes to prevent eyes from budding.

It is because of that fact store bought Potatoes cannot be planted. They simply will not grow.

To ensure that your Potato crop sprouts and flourishes use only certified seed Potatoes for planting.

Go to your local nursery or buy them online and have them delivered right to your door. Certified seed potatoes will have several visible eyes or sprouts. One certified seed Potato can be cut and divided to form several seed Potatoes.

There should be at least two eyes for each seed Potato. Feel free to cut them in quarts or eighths as long as the minimum prerequisite of eyes is met.    

Prepare the soil

Gardens have different kinds of soil, find out what kind is in your garden. Potatoes will thrive in soil that drains well. If the soil is compacted or has a high percentage of clay, then there is a chance that the crop will fail. Potato tubers are prone to rot and needs loose soil to reach its full potential.

Preparing the right kind of soil is essential to the success of the plant. Potato plants require soil rich in organic matter, and the best way to achieve this is to add fertilizers and compost before planting.

Prepare the appropriate soil mix and fill the containers, pots, bags or any container that will be used in this project. Potatoes are suitable to be cultivated inside the house and it won’t take much to start an indoor garden.

Growing Potatoes in the backyard garden extracts a heavy toll on the soil. Choose at least three patches in the yard to plant the Potatoes. Again, it is essential to fertilize the soil with nutritious compost and other soil amendments to prepare the land for future use.

In case the area is suitable to grow Potatoes year round then rotates the batches in these three Potato patches. If Potato planting is only possible annually, then alternate between these three patches as well.

The soil needs to be the right temperature

Choosing the right time to start planting is also another critical factor to the success of the crop. Potato plants grow well in soil that is at least 45 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Select soil patches that get at least six to eight hours of sun.

Potato plants grow best when they are basking in full sun. Their leaves absorb the solar rays and convert it into energy to help it develop. It is safe for the leaves and even the stem of the Potato plant to absorb sunlight it is hazardous if the tubers are exposed to the sun.

Look out for rotten tubers

Protect the Potato tubers by building a mound covering most of the stem just below the leaves. This precaution is necessary to ensure that the tubers are shielded from direct sunlight in case they pop up from the ground. Exposure to direct sunlight will cause the tubers to turn green.

Potato tubers become green when they absorb sunlight and produce chlorophyll. Green tubers are inedible because they become filled with solanine. Which is a poisonous substance that can be very harmful to humans when ingested.

Plant when the time is right

Depending on the climate, it is possible to grow Potatoes all year round. If the weather does not permit that because of a cold winter, then the best time to plant Potatoes would be early spring.  

Choosing the right time to start planting is also another critical factor to the success of the crop.

Know the areas last frost date and plant Potatoes four weeks before that date. Potato plants grow well in soil that is at least 45 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. It should be a given but do not attempt to plant when the during winter time or it is too cold outside.

Keep in mind that the Potatoes grow underground, and they need that environment to be warm enough for them to grow. They cannot grow in cold or almost frozen soil.

Be on guard for pests

Pests can be one of the main reasons why Potato plants fail. A wide variety of insects and pests love to dine on all parts of the Potato plant. Regularly examine the Potato plants leaves to check on their health. Different symptoms n the plant mean a specific type of pest is present.

Discoloured or sticky leaves could mean there is an aphid infestation.  Large holes in the plant’s leaves indicate there is an infestation of Potato beetles.  Plants that are cut off near the soil level means some cutworms got to them and the list goes on.

The best defense against pests is vigilance and a companion plant to naturally deter the pests present in the garden.

Related: Pests & Diseases in Tomatoes; All You Need to Know


Trying to figure out what could have happened to the Potato plant to stop it from growing could prove difficult. Track everything that is done to the plant. Keep a daily record of the plant’s progress and any observations regarding its leaves or stems.

Determine what pests are present in the garden and plant a corresponding companion plant to deter that specific pest. Keep the tubers safe from direct sunlight by checking on the mound and adding more compost or even fine gravel when needed.

This is a guest post by Emma Metson, a gardening and home improvements blogger over at fixturesandflowers.co.uk



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