Have you noticed your potatoes starting to flower? If so, then you need to remove them, let me explain.
Potato flowers are beautiful; there is no getting away from that.
But while they are nice to look at, you should still be removing them, ideally before they even get a chance to flower.
The simple reason is that any energy the plant expends on flowering and creating seeds is energy wasted that could be going to the tubers instead.
So the quicker you remove the blooms, the bigger your tubers will grow – that’s the idea anyway.
And there is science to back up this claim too, a 1987 study where flowers were removed found that:
If left alone, the flowers will eventually turn to seed. These seeds look like little berries.
A lot of potato growers are not aware that potatoes will produce seeds as they also reproduce through their tubers.
One important thing to note about these berries is that they are toxic and should never be consumed!
These berries contain hundreds of seed, and these can be grown and will create viable plants.
One problem though, before you decide to harvest some potato seeds for next year’s crop, is that they won’t be true to seed.
When we grow potato plants from tubers, they are a clone of the parent plant. So the characteristics of the potato are already known.
When grown from seed, they could be anything, so the potato might be small, it might be huge, it might be delicious, or it might taste so bad it is inedible. It’s simply not known.
This form of breeding is how new potato cultivars are created, but there is a lot of trial and error.
Removing Potato Flowers
I remove the flowers as soon as I see the buds, before they even get the chance to open.
By doing it as early as possible, I am maximising the benefit by reducing the amount fo energy the plant expends on flowers and seeds.
This is a plant up at my allotment, and this is the stage I nipped out the flowers.
You can just see them starting to appear; pinching them out now is perfect.
I just use my fingers and nip them out as soon as they appear.
Throw the flowers on the compost heap, and look forward to your now increased potato harvest!
As always; if you have any questions, then ask away in the comments below, and I will get back to you.
Good luck in the garden,