Potato Flower: One of the Most Consumed Root Vegetables

shutterstock 467012852 FloraQueen EN Potato Flower: One of the Most Consumed Root Vegetables

The Solanum tuberosum, or, as we all know, the potato, is an ancient root vegetable firstly cultivated by the Incas in Peru. Also, potatoes come from the same family as tomatoes, the Nightshades or Solanaceae. Potatoes are grown all over the world and are consumed in different ways, as boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes, the classic French fries, or as part of various dishes. Let’s find out different and interesting things about the potato flower:

* Potato plant profile

* Potato flower and its varieties

* How to grow a potato in your garden

* Planting potatoes

* Multiplication and storing

* Pollination and diseases

Potato Plant Profile

Solanum tuberosum is a part of the family named Nightshades, Solanaceae, its genus being Nightshade, Solanum. The origin of the plant is Chiloe, Chonos-Archipel, Chile, and you can start to plant it from March or April. The potato can grow up to 3 feet or even taller. It is important to know that the potato contains vitamins, like B6 and C, and also phosphorus, manganese, pantothenic acid, and niacin.

Potato Flower and Its Varieties

There are more varieties of potatoes, apart from white potatoes, which are also known as Irish potato or Katahdin, Kennebec, or white rose.

Besides the white potato, the most common ones that we encounter are yellow potatoes, (Rosabelle, Bintje, Desiree, Yukon Gold, or Nicola) red potatoes, (Chieftain, Norland, Red Pontiac, Sangre, or Viking) and blue or purple potatoes (Adirondack Blue, All Blue, or Purple Majesty.)

The potato plant also produces flowers that grow a berry-like fruit filled with seeds. These berries are not edible because they are toxic, unlike tomatoes, the other vegetable from this category.

On the other hand, potato flowers can be used for ornaments and beautiful flower arrangements. Although potato plants are mostly grown for their important role in gastronomy, their flowers can be really attractive. Potato flowers have different colors, such as white, red, pink, blue, or purple. The intensity of the color may differ – some of them are very pale, whereas others are brighter. The flower itself has five petals, pointed or rounded. In all of them, the prominent stamen is bright yellow.

How to Grow A Potato in Your Garden

The potato isn’t that hard to grow, because if you don’t have a garden, you can still cultivate it in buckets or boxes. It’s an opportunity to grow special varieties which you can’t find in any other place, like a market. For you to grow a potato, you should follow a few guidelines:

*You should use rich, sandy and loose soil or maybe loamy soil that is partly sand;

*Potatoes can be planted in March or April when the soil can be worked;

*The right temperature for them is about 48 F degrees;

*The space between them should be 12 to 14 inches apart;

*You can improve compacted or clay-heavy soils by mixing compost or other organic matter to make them looser;

*You need to feed the growing potatoes with plant food to amplify your harvest potential;

*Also, you can harvest the potatoes two to three weeks after the plants bloom.

Planting Potatoes

You should start planting the potato by keeping it for six weeks in a room with a temperature ranging from 50F to 59F. When preparing to plant them in the bed, make trenches and plant the potatoes with the shoots facing upwards. It is recommended to keep 12 inches between them within a trench and 28 inches left between trenches.

If you want healthy, beautiful potato flowers and plants, it is important to use only the best seed tubers and avoid pale, thin shoots at all costs. You can relocate the plant outdoors in the spring, during April. You need to prepare the outdoor bed two weeks before you plant them.

The temperature should range between 61-70F. When the temperature is too low, potatoes need to be protected with fleece or straw. This prevents them from freezing. In case your potato plant freezes, it is important to know that they still develop new leaves but this makes them more prone to diseases.

Multiplication and Storing

If you want to propagate your potato plant to either to cook the potato or to delight yourself with its beautiful flowers, you can follow a few easy steps. For this process, it is necessary to use only the tubers that have one or more eyes.

Next, place the potatoes that you plan to use for propagation in a flat box, keeping the eyes facing upwards. Store your boxes in place with moderate sunlight and a minimum of 59F.

In early June, your potato plants bloom and you can use the potato flower for ornamental purposes. You can also harvest your potatoes and use them immediately; make sure you harvest them only when you also cook them because they lack a protective layer and they do not remain fresh for long when stored.

In order to keep the potatoes fresh, you should have a room temperature of 45 to 46 F degrees. In lower or upper temperatures, they change their taste. Potatoes have to be put in dark storage because if they are exposed to light, they develop a toxic substance. You need to know that if you plan to store them, you don’t have to wash them. Also, don’t keep them in the same place as your apples.

Pollination and Diseases

Potatoes may be pollinated by almost all types of insects. The insects can land on the potato or brush it with their wings. Also, the potato pollen is spread by the wind. Humans, on the other hand, can pollinate the plant with a paintbrush or cotton applicator.

Potatoes can be infested with pests and diseases. If the soil is too dry, potatoes are more likely to be infested with pests or, when the soil is too moist, fungi can live in good conditions. For early potatoes, late blight may be dangerous, brown spots being typical symptoms of this.

Besides that, there are types of aphids that can infest the potato plants, such as the alder buckthorn aphid, the harvest mite, or the potato aphid. In the process of growing, there are other pests like the potato beetle, potato scab or parasites that might infest the plant.

All in all, we think it may be a good idea to harvest your own potato flowers, either if you want them for ornamental purposes or to prepare your meal with your own home-made potatoes.

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