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The world is full of wonderful plants of all different types, sizes, and colors.
With all of these plants, it can be hard to keep up with them.
Have you heard of the potato flower?
It comes as no surprise if you have not.
That is why we have put together this helpful guide to teach you all about it. Continue reading to learn everything you need to know about the potato flower.
What Is The Potato Flower?
The potato flower is the flower that grows from growing potato plants. This is a completely normal thing to arise when planting potatoes and there are a few reasons behind the flowering.
The main reason for the potato flower is to produce fruit and this fruit grows on top of the plant instead of underground.
What is interesting about this flower is that not all of them can be pollinated. What the flower requires is vibration and this is created by the wings of bumblebees.
Honeybees cannot contribute towards the pollinating of the flower for its pores are too small to get the pollen.
However, if pollinating is successful then you will see this flower produce fruit that looks similar to tomatoes.
Is It Necessary To Remove Potato Flowers?
Although what grows from these flowers is a fruit, one thing which needs to be made clear is that the fruit is not edible. In fact, it is highly poisonous.
If you are planting these in your garden, it is recommended that you remove the fruit from the flower to stop pets or children from getting their hands on it.
It is not worth the risk. If you want to go further, you can even choose to remove the entire flower altogether.
However, pets and children are not the only reason for removing potato flowers. Some people believe that there is a link between the energy given to the flowers and the production of tubers.
In order to remove the flowers, you can choose to either cut them off at the stem or pinch them off with your fingers.
Disadvantages Of Removing Potato Flowers
Despite what we have already covered, there is some who choose not to remove the potato flowers, and there are several reasons for this:
- You can now no longer use seeds to grow new potatoes
- The size of the tubers decreases
- Walking between the rows of soil to remove these flowers can lead to potential bacterial transfer
How Do Potato Flowers Grow?
You will likely see potato flowers growing in cooler weather.
Even though they can bloom in the heat, it is unlikely that they will live long or even produce any fruit at all. But despite this, the way a flower blooms will not have any effect on the growth of the potato itself.
When it comes to the potato flower, this is only something that grows by chance.
With a potato plant, it is not assumed that a flower will grow as the most important part is the potato itself.
So, if you ever do get round to growing potatoes, do not expect to see a potato flower, and if you do, don’t always expect to see fruit either.
The Benefits Of Potato Flowers
Although not an essential part of the growing process of potatoes, this flower does have some benefits.
Did you know that seeing these flowers can tell you when your potatoes need to be watered?
Whilst it is true that this is only a rough indication, this is a great benefit for the overall quality of your potatoes and their end results.
So, how exactly does this work?
Potatoes are brilliant to grow but the one downside that many people face is understanding how much water the plant needs.
As potatoes are underground, we cannot see how the potatoes are looking – it is important to acknowledge how much they have grown and their current quality to provide the best possible end result. As potatoes grow in size, they also need to be receiving more water than prior.
To someone new, this may seem impossible to grasp but this is where the potato flowers come into play.
When you start to see flowers form, there is a high chance that tubers are forming under the soil too. because of this, you will then know that your potatoes are in need of more water.
Another one of the major benefits to the potato flower is its ability to signal when the potatoes are ready to be dug up.
When you see these flowers sprout, your potatoes should be ready around 2 or 3 weeks after this time.
Of course, there is no guarantee that these flowers will grow. Because of this, it is necessary to find other ways of determining when your potato is ready to pull.
How To Know Your Potato Is Ready To Harvest
Harvesting is a fun activity for all to enjoy. Yes, it can get messy but that’s what makes it so enjoyable.
This shouldn’t be seen as a chore but as opening a present. Just think, you haven’t been able to see the results of your planting for all these months – who wouldn’t want to see the results?
This is an activity which can be done with the kids and it doesn’t take up too much time.
Before looking into when to harvest potatoes, we should first look at the types of potatoes and how they are to be harvested.
Types Of Potato
There are two main types of potatoes which you can choose to harvest – this is the new potato and the maincrop potato.
The biggest difference between these two potatoes is their size.
Many people know the new potato for its small size and you will commonly see these potatoes being used in dishes such as salad or stirred into a pasta bowl.
Furthermore, the skin of these potatoes is very thin and wispy, making them stand out from others.
Maincrop potatoes, on the other hand, are fully grown and their large size makes for an enjoyable meal whatever the dish.
Whether you want to use them to make mashed potatoes or jacket potatoes, this large vegetable gives you many choices.
How To Harvest
When it comes to harvesting, the method varies depending on the type of potato. However, these are both quick and easy to complete and will not take up too much of your time.
With new potatoes, the best way to harvest is by using your hands.
You will find that the plants will begin to flower (usually in July), and it is at this time that you can harvest. Make sure that your hand is gloved as you do this.
With maincrop potatoes, however, the method is slightly different. You will be needing a garden fork to help you with the harvesting.
Approximately around a foot away from your plant, take your garden fork and carefully lift the root mass.
This is a good method for larger potatoes, but you may find that you will need help from your hand too.
If there are still some potatoes left in the ground, feel free to remove these manually too. You can also use a shovel if you do not have or do not want to use a garden fork.
When To Harvest
One of the easiest ways to tell if a potato is ready to be harvested is by referring to the potato flowers; however, of course, not all potatoes are lucky enough to sprout these flowers.
If you see that your potatoes have no potato flowers to match, this is not the end of the world. There are other easy ways to determine whether your potatoes are ready to be taken out of the ground and used.
The potatoes will be ready at the end of the growing season and a clear sign for this is when the foliage has turned yellow and has started to dry.
It is important for the potatoes to reach a mature level. Through this, their skin will be thickened to perfection and their quality will be heightened.
When To Expect To See A Potato Flower
Although the potato flower comes with both its many pros and cons, many people still want to see that flower bloom.
Do not get disheartened if a long period of time has passed and you still see nothing. It takes a fair amount of time for anything to flower.
It can take up to 60 days to see any signs of flowering and these only bloom for a short time whilst they wait to be pollinated. After this, you will see the formation of fruit.
What Do Potato Flowers Look Like?
Potato flowers are commonly compared to tomato flowers in appearance, but instead of being yellow, they are either a shade of lavender, pink, or white. In some cases, the fruit will begin to form inside the flowers.
The fruit in the center is small and yellow and resembles a tomato, however, these are not to be eaten under any circumstances.
Make sure to clear any pets or children away from these flowers for safety.
What Makes The Fruit From Potatoes Poisonous?
As we have discovered, it is vital that you do not consume the fruit of the potato plant, so you may be curious as to what it is that makes this fruit so forbidden.
These fruits contain a toxic substance called glycoalkaloids and this is a substance formed from the potato itself.
Whilst only a small amount of this is produced in the potatoes’ tubers, there is almost ten times more of this toxic substance within the fruit.
The fruit can contain as much as 1350 mg/kg of glycoalkaloids and it is only at 1 mg per kg of body weight can a person begins to feel symptoms.
Because of this, it is very important not to consume.
What If You Accidentally Eat The Fruit?
You will not be affected by the fruit of a potato plant so long as you spit it out straight away.
It is easy for a pet or a child to get their hands on the fruit so if this does happen, make sure to tend to them quickly and make them spit it out.
With this said, some people choose to try the fruit and spit it out due to curiosity about the taste (we do not recommend this).
The fruit from the potato has been said to taste like tomatoes and when unripe they can taste bitter.
When they are ripe, however, the fruit has been known to have a pleasant taste.
People have described it as a mix of tomato with fruity melon. Because of this, it is unfortunate that they cannot be eaten.
In this article, we have thoroughly explored all there is to know about the potato flower.
When it comes to planting potatoes, it can come as a shock to see this lavender, white and pink flowers forming from them.
This is not something that happens to all potatoes as the climate and temperature play a big role, however when you do see flowers you will also eventually see fruit.
This fruit may resemble tomatoes and even taste pleasant but comes with many negatives.
Although not essential, some people find it safer to get rid of the potato flowers altogether (this is especially necessary for those with small children and curious pets).
The fruit which grows from the flowers is very toxic, containing high levels of glycoalkaloids.
In order to prevent any accidents, people may choose to pick the flowers off. But despite the negative, these flowers come with a variety of positives too.
Not only do they allow you to determine when it is time to be watered, but they also allow you to know when they are ready to be harvested.
The potato flower is something which can be controversial and, although not of high importance, it is beautiful seeing any kind of flower bloom.