do-potatoes-have-seeds

Do Potatoes Have Seeds?

Although seed potatoes are usually used to produce new potato plants, potato plants are also capable of producing seeds. Seeds may not grow or may be sterile and the plants will not necessarily grow true to type. However, if you want to grow potatoes from seed, it will take extra effort on your part.

About Growing Potatoes

The potato is a cool-season plant native to Chile and Peru. It will grow in all USDA Zones with attention to timing of planting. Potatoes need very fertile soil that drains well. They also need ample water while growing. Since the tubers form along the underground stems, potatoes are hilled – covered with soil – to increase the crop and protect tubers from sunlight.

Flowers and Seeds

Potatoes are relatives of tomatoes, and the have similar flowers. They are most likely to be self-pollinated, but may also be pollinated by insects. The potatoes usually bloom when the plants are mature and have begun to form tubers. In many cases, the flowers simply dry up and fall off. If not, the plant will develop small clusters of fruits that look like tiny cherry tomatoes and contain seeds.

Potato Varieties and Seeds

There are thousands of potato varieties; some are more likely to fruit – and thus develop seed – than others. Most of these are not commercial varieties and may be available only from specialty producers. They include:

  • Adirondack Blue
  • All Blue
  • German Butterball
  • Kerr’s Pink
  • Russet Burbank
  • Yellow Finn.

Promoting Seed Set

If you really want to grow potatoes from seed, the first and most important strategy is to choose a variety that has that tendency. However, any potato might set seed if conditions are right. Cool temperatures and long days tend to promote fruiting in potatoes. Good soil quality and proper nutrition are also likely to be factors.

Collecting Seeds

Potatoes produce seeds in clusters of small round fruits, each of which may contain hundreds of seeds. Collect the fruits by clipping them from the stem when they are deeply colored – most are deep green, but a few turn deep purple. Gently mash the berries and soak them in water for several days. The mix will begin to ferment and viable seeds will drop to the bottom. Rinse seeds well, drain and allow to air dry.

Growing Potatoes from Seed

If you can grow tomatoes from seed, you can do the same thing with potatoes. Plant the seeds on top of your soil and cover with about 1/8th inch of soil. Press down gently and spritz with water. Keep soil moist but not soggy. Potatoes grow best in full sun. Transplant into the garden when the seedlings are about six to eight inches tall.