How to Care for Potato Plants

Overview

For centuries, potatoes have served as a food staple all over the world, with a high carbohydrate content and several minerals and vitamins. This crop is ideal for cooler regions in North America. When growing potatoes in your home garden, it is vital to plant them in moist soil and make sure there isn't a chance of frost. While the potatoes are maturing, keep some key tips in mind to make sure you have a delicious, healthy bounty of potatoes at the end of the season.

Step 1

Mulch around the potatoes once they germinate up from the soil in order to keep them warm while the nights are still cool. Mulching will also help when the weather warms up, because it will retain moisture and keep the roots cool. The mulch has the added benefit of deterring weed growth and retaining nutrients.

Step 2

Push the soil up between the rows of potatoes (if you have more than one row) to create small mounds around each potato about six inches high. This will provide shelter from sun during the warmer season.

Step 3

Aerate the soil when the potatoes are young to deter weeds,make sure the potatoes develop evenly and provide air circulation to the potato roots. Aerate with aeration shoes or a rented machine from your local gardening store.

Step 4

Pull up any weeds by the potatoes by the roots to make sure you remove them completely. If they aren't removed completely, they will grow back quickly and overtake the potato plants.

Step 5

Water the potato plants every day to keep the soil consistently moist. For large potato crops, it will be easier to use irrigation. The soil should not be soaked, as this can cause root rot. Provide the potatoes a steady, light stream of moisture when watering.

Step 6

Treat your potatoes if you see signs of insect infestation, such as curled leaves, wilted leaves, or white streaks. Commonly for potatoes these pests are leaf hoppers or flat beetles. Check daily for pests like flat beetles and leaf hoppers. Since potatoes are for consumption, treat them with a pesticide that will not harm humans.

Things You'll Need

  • Mulch
  • Aeration shoes or systems
  • Water or irrigation system
  • Insecticide

References

  • University of Illinois: Potato Gardening
  • Essential Garden Guide: Watering, Fertilizing, and Caring for Potatoes
Keywords: potato plant care, caring for potatoes, growing potatoes

About this Author

Lauren Wise has more than eight years' experience as a writer, editor, copywriter and columnist. She specializes in food, wine, music and pop culture. Her writing has appeared in various magazines, including "Runway," "A2Z," "Scottsdale Luxury Living" and "True West." Wise holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Arizona State University.