We like to eat potatoes boiled, baked, roasted or mashed. This easy to grow vegetable plant can be grown from a seed potato that has small sprouts on it.
How deep you plant this seed potato and the soil in which you’re growing plays vital role in quality of the yield.
Like most root vegetables, your potato plant loves well-drained and loose soil. So that roots of this edible plant can easily reach certain depth.
Deep roots have its share of benefits and it greatly impact overall health of the plant.
Not knowing how deep potato plant roots grow may end-up planting seed potato in compact soil that blocks the spread of root system. This will badly impact the harvest and results in small potatoes.
According to NORTH DAKOTA STATE UNIVERSITY, potato plant reach 18 inches depth.
With fibrous root system, potato root structure may reach up-to 18-24 inches deep from the level of seed potato. The tubers come out from specialized roots that can be 10-12 inches deep depending on how much soil you added to the bed.
Potato Root’s System
In simple words, potato plant has shallow and fibrous roots. Few researchers regard these roots to be inefficient in absorbing minerals when compared to cereals.
Noting this, you should regularly water and feed the plant with natural fertilizers for best yield.
When you successfully provide favorable condition for roots to grow, this will eventually increase yield and overall structure of the plant.
But, you must be aware how roots grow.
As you know, potato plant grows vertically from seed potato, whereas, roots grow downwards from seed piece.
Potato root system has both adventitious roots and lateral roots that reach 18 inches deep to uptake water and minerals from the soil.
Researchers here say, understanding root system development will help to increase plant yield by optimizing the soil.
Potato has fibrous root system that produces tubers on specialized roots 10 inches deep from the level of seed potato.
Roots system of potato is shallow and is regarded poor and inefficient ability to extract minerals and water from the soil. (Source)
Unlike taproot, fibrous roots of potato plant can’t tolerate drought situation effectively.
So, when you’re planning to grow potatoes in container, ensure that the soil surface stay wet most of the time.
With numerous lateral roots, potato plant can absorb water and nutrients from surface of the soil.
How Deep Do Potato Roots Grow?
After understanding root system of potato, you already know the importance of loose soil for growing this plant.
Not just roots; since the tubers grow under the ground, sifting soil will make it smooth and loose.
Plant the seed potato 1-2 inches deep. But the soil must be loose up-to 12 inches. So, the plant’s root can easily proceed to get its food from soil.
As already mentioned, depending on the potato variety, roots of potato plant can grow up-to 18-24 inch depth.
Check this out: How Much Sunlight Do Potatoes Need to Grow?
How Far to Plant Potatoes in Garden?
Apart from depth, to be a successful gardener, you must allow at-least 12 inches of space between the potato plants.
This will avoid roots getting tangled and plants won’t have to compete for water and soil nutrients.
Even when planting in rows, 3 feet of space should be left between rows for easy harvesting and to pull weeds. (Check this article: When Is it Too Late to Plant Potatoes?)
What is the Best Soil for Growing Root Vegetable in Garden?
Sandy soil will be smooth and provide ideal condition to grow tubers.
With hard dirt and clumps, your plant may produce deformed tubers. Choosing wrong soil may inhibit root growth and result in poor quality potatoes.
Unlike other vegetable plants, potatoes need more fertilizers.
While planting and in the growing season, you should feed the plant with organic matter or any natural fertilizer.
Ideal soil pH for growing potatoes range from 6 to 6.5.
Avoid using fertilizers that kill weed, as it may also kill your potato plant. (Source)
Role of Deep Roots in Potato Yield
Deep roots eventually mean more nitrogen and water uptake to increase food.
More food produced by plant will directly impact the yield.
So, most gardeners prefer raised beds so that vegetable plant roots penetrated into deeper layers of the soil to consume minerals.
Check this: What Causes Holes in Potato Plant Leaves?
Signs of Root Bound
When the roots outgrow the container in which it is planted, the leaves turn black or yellow and start to wilt.
Plant leaves look underwatered and if left unnoticed, the plant will die.
Not just in container, your potato plant can root bound even in ground.
If the roots in your backyards are caught between barriers like pipes, foundation walls or footers, root bound may occur. (Source)
So, while growing potato plants ensure it has enough space to grow and spread. (Also read this article: Why Are My Potato Plants Falling Over?)
Raised Beds Vs In Ground – which is best for growing potatoes?
Would you prefer to spend few bucks to build raised bed for your vegetable garden? Is it even worth it?
Raised beds can be more permanent when compared to in ground crop.
With less compact soil, better drainage, easily manageability and accessibility, raised beds are preferred by most gardeners.
However, if you don’t want to spend on construction and on labor, then growing in ground can be beneficial for you.
My take, root vegetables like potatoes need loose soil. Root system of these plants would prefer sift and fertile soil. Raised bed can be a better option for growing potatoes.
Gardeners, who can’t bend can raise their beds so with less stress they can easily inspect their plants.
Check this article: Can You Plant Potatoes that Have Sprouted?
Important Tips to Increase Potato Root Growth
Strong and healthy roots are key factors to growing successful plant.
- Loose, well-drained and aerated soil allows the roots to spread and grow strong.
- Aerated soil helps good oxygen intake.
- Use shovel to break clumps and loosen compact soil.
- Water your plant when the soil is dry. Insert your index finger to check the moisture. If soil sticks your finger, then don’t water. In case, if the soil is dry water the plant.
- Overwatering or underwatering will damage the roots and plant respectively.
- Feed your plant with balanced NPK fertilizers. This will ensure to grow roots, leaves and contribute in overall plant growth.
- Phosphorus helps to grow strong roots. Deficiency of this nutrient will result in poor root system.
- If you’re growing the plant in a small container, repot when needed.
- Unlike houseplants, you must start growing potatoes in a large container that you can easily harvest.
It is very important to study root system of your vegetable plant.
Knowing how deep do potato roots grow, will eventually allow you to prepare the soil and container. These are key factors in growing healthy plant.
Roots of potato plant reach up-to 18 inches depth. Soil must be well drained and loose to support the growth of root system.
Stronger the root system, quality and higher will be the yield.