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Stemming the Confusion: Is Potato a Root Or a Stem?

Is a potato a root or a stem? I’m sure you have wondered about this at some stage. Even though we have potatoes every day on our dining tables, some of us might not be able to answer where they come from when asked by a toddler, and this makes you go through an awkward scenario.

Is a potato a root or a stem

As we already know, potatoes grow underground; we might assume it as a root, but some can claim it as a stem. You don’t have to stress your head anymore as this article will tell you what a potato is and how you can grow them.

Is Potato a Root or a Stem? ‎

I won’t blame anyone if they think the potato is a root because it grows underground. Potatoes aren’t a stem or root, but it is a modified form of stem known as a tuber. Tubers are found to develop from stolon, which is an underground stem. These tubers help store starches for later use.

Why Is Potato Not a Root?

You might be thinking, “Why isn’t a potato a root? After all, we plant it underground, and then the vegetables are also harvested from there.” Well, there is another theory behind this.

Logically talking, potato doesn’t have a proper root system. A proper root organ consists of a chained vascular system branched underground.

Instead, they have tubers. As roots are used to draw nutrients from the soil, in the same manner, tubers help extract nutrients from the underground.

What are Tubers and Why are Potatoes Called Tubers?

Is potato a root or a stem

At this point, you must be definitely wondering what tubers are and why they are associated with potatoes. Tubers are some plant organs. Not every plant has these, but the family of Solanaceae family does have them.

The word tuber is derived from the Latin word tuberosum, which means a swelling or small tube. These tubers are specialized to store starches and other nutrients. Plus, they are also a good source of storing carbohydrates.

Why are Potatoes Called Solanum Tuberosum?

Potatoes are native to western South America. They were domesticated in Peru around 5000 BC and spread by the Incas into other regions of South America. Today, the vegetable is well known all around the globe.

In Latin, Solanum means sun, whereas tuberosum means a mass. When exposed to the sun, potatoes produce starch; they are known as solanum tuberosum. It is also called potato, the most common cultivated species of the genus Solanum. This is the only actual tuberous root crop cultivated for its starchy roots.

How Do Potatoes Grow?

Potatoes grow from potatoes. You read that right! Have you noticed what happens when you leave potatoes in your kitchen for a few days? It sprouts. When planted under the soil along with the potato, these sprouts develop into potatoes. Potatoes are a type of tuber which grows into an underground stem. The tuber grows into a potato plant later.

Can I Grow Potatoes at My Home?

Even if you don’t consider yourself a gardener, you might be interested in growing potatoes in your garden. After all, who doesn’t love to have organic and fresh vegetables at their home?

You can easily grow potatoes at your home. Potatoes are a cool-season crop, so you need to ensure that the weather you are trying to cultivate them is favorable.

Next, you also need to check out if the soil is well-drained or not because they are best grown in sandy soil.   Here’s a video that answers all your questions about growing potatoes at home.  

How to Grow Potatoes: Step-By-Step Guide

Growing potatoes is not a hard task, and it only requires a few minutes of your time. Let’s have a look at what you will need to grow potatoes.
• Some seed potatoes
• Potting soil
• A spade
• Watering can
Once you have all this, you’re all ready to accomplish your mission and grow potatoes.

Step 1: Choose Seed Potatoes

Is potato a root or a stem

You can go to a nursery nearby and find some good and certified disease-free seed potatoes. Or you can have them at your home by simply laying potatoes on your countertop for a few weeks, but make sure these are from a reliable organic supplier. As soon as they sprout, they are good to go.

Step 2: Cut the Large Tubers into Small Ones

Stemming the confusion: is potato a root or a stem?

Make sure you have sliced the enlarged tubers into chunky pieces. This is because the eyes (little bumps on a potato) will give you a crowded plant when planted very closely. Each of the stems would be competing for nutrients, and as a result, you will get small potatoes.

Step 3: Set the Slices in the Sun

Is potato a root or a stem

Next, place these potato or tuber pieces into the sun to become calloused. You can also place them in a warm room which is at about 70 Fahrenheit.

Step 4: Planting the Seed Potatoes

Stemming the confusion: is potato a root or a stem?

You have to plant the pieces so that the eyes remain on the top, whereas the cut side remains in the ground. Please make sure you bury them in a 6-inch deep trench. Make sure to place the tubers 12 inches apart on all sides.

Step 5: Add Fertilizer and Make Slopes Around

Potato plant growing

You can add fertilizer of your choice. If you don’t know which one to choose, then head over to my article listing The Best Lawn Fertilizer in 2022 (the same fertilizer can be used for potatoes). When the green sprouts are about 8 inches tall, you can use soil to bury the top of the planted potato once again, this will help produce more potatoes.

Step 6: Harvesting

Is potato a root or a stem

The best time to harvest potatoes is when the soil temperature is above 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Potatoes can tolerate light frost but when hard frost is expected, it’s time to dig them out. You have to wait for about ten weeks for small potatoes, and for fully grown potatoes, you have to wait at least 100-120 days. One sign that your potatoes are ready for harvesting is when they start to turn yellow and become soft. If the foliage on your potatoes has died back, it’s time to start harvesting.

New or young potatoes can be harvested early.  These potatoes are harvested early on purpose for their tender skin and smaller size.  You can harvest them about 2 to 3 weeks after the potato plants stop flowering.

When hardening off potatoes, keep them dry and don’t water them. If it starts to rain or the weather changes unexpectedly, dig the potatoes out so they can’t get wet. You can safely harvest and bring your potatoes inside when hardening off this way.

After digging your potatoes, be sure to avoid leaving them in the sun for too long or they will turn green. Green potatoes have a bitter taste and if eaten can cause diarrhea and vomiting. Small green spots can be trimmed off, but significant greening must be thrown away.

How Much Fertilizer Do I Need to Grow Potatoes?

Fertilizers are very important to have your plants grow. They provide necessary nutrients that are essential in plant growth. Usually, 1-1.5 pounds of fertilizer per acre is needed to grow potatoes.

This amount is not definite and can vary depending upon the area you will cover. Make sure you are applying the fertilizer just at the time of planting. If you are thinking of going for organic fertilizers, then apply them a week after plantation. For more detailed information take a look at my article How Much Fertilizer Should I Use?

How Much Water Do Potatoes Need To Grow?

Watering plays an important role in the overall growth of a plant. Remember, if a plant is not hydrated, then it might not be able to grow properly, and it will also be deprived of essential nutrients.

Potatoes need about eight inches of water per week to grow. The more water you give to your potatoes, the better will be their growth. Along with a regular watering session and fertilizer application, your potatoes will grow faster.

How Long It Takes to Grow Potatoes?

You cannot plant a potato seed and get a potato just after a week or two. Plants do require some time to grow fruits and vegetables. In the same manner, potatoes require a lot of time to grow.
For instance, it might take quite a few months for potatoes to grow until harvesting. In short, it can take several months to have fully matured potatoes. Make sure you start the plantation as soon as the season starts.

How to Know When Potatoes are Ready to Harvest?

Usually, fruits and vegetables take about a lot of time until they are ready to harvest. You must know when the potatoes are fully matured and ready to eat. If you harvest them before they are fully matured, you might experience their bitter taste, and if they are harvested a long time after they have matured, they might rot.

Is potato a root or a stem

The best way to know when potatoes are ready to harvest is to check the skin. When the skin is smooth and has no cracks, the potatoes are ready to be harvested. If you are sure your potatoes are good to eat, grab a shovel or a spading fork.

Using any of these tools, carefully lift the plant and grab the potatoes you want. Now put the plant back in its place and arrange the soil properly. Don’t forget to water it on the top.

Can I Grow Potatoes in a Closed Space?

If you have a closed apartment and want to grow potatoes there, then let us tell you it is all possible. I honestly do not prefer it, but you can grow potatoes in a closed space.

They might not be able to grow as tall as they do in open spaces, but you will get small potatoes. One important thing to do is maintain the watering schedule and give them proper sunlight exposure.

Can Potato Grow in a Planting Pot?

Stemming the confusion: is potato a root or a stem?

Everybody loves to have tiny plants in their kitchen. Most of us have those basil leaves and coriander pots in our kitchen. So, can we have potatoes in those tiny pots too? Generally, you can actually plant potatoes in a pot but it has to be quite large. Growing potatoes like this will usually only produce tiny potatoes.

I personally do not recommend doing this. Potatoes need a certain amount of nutrients usually found in the soil. Even though you can fill a pot with good soil still, the nutrient support will not be enough for potato growth.

How to Keep Potatoes from Sprouting?

Sprouts play an important role in growing new potatoes. If there were no sprouts, technically, there would be no way to regrow potatoes. That is just not possible anyways.

The process of potatoes sprouting is due to a hormone called auxin. The auxin prompts the plant’s cells to grow and multiply. This causes the potato’s skin to split and release the new potatoes.

Are Sweet Potatoes and Potatoes Same?

Is potato a root or a stem

Yes, a type of potato exists that is called sweet potatoes. And without any doubt, these potatoes are much sweeter than those ordinary potatoes. Both of the types are somehow different in appearance as well.

Sweet potatoes and potatoes are both the same because they belong to the same family. Also, both of them have tubers and bumpy surfaces. They do differ in taste a lot.

What Part of the Potato Is Fit for Human Consumption?

Mashed potatoes, jacket potatoes, French fries, and many more delicious treats are prepared using potatoes. There is no such part of a potato that is not edible. Even the potato’s skin can be cooked well and fried for snack munching.

The flesh part of the potato can be fried or boiled as you like. Potatoes have a high concentration of carbohydrates and other fibers.

How to Maintain Potatoes in My Garden?

Maintaining plants does not require much effort. All they need is water, sunlight, and some love. You can make sure a few things to have your potatoes grow out well.

  • Maintain the soil well-watered
  • Fertilize the soil while planting
  • Plant potatoes early in the season
  • Assure that the potatoes are getting at least 6 hours of direct sunlight

Final Words

Hopefully, now you know if a potato is a root or a stem. Being tubers, potatoes are rich in fibers and carbohydrates. Harvesting them in your own garden can be the best way to benefit from their nutrients. Do consider the tips mentioned above to have your potatoes grow the best.

Ian richardson

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