How Often To Water Potatoes

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Are you planning to plant potatoes in your garden next season?

If so, read this guide on how often to water potatoes, so you achieve great results!

Down below, I will explain the water requirements of potato plants, whether you grow them in your garden or a container.

I also tell you the right way to water, because many gardeners forget that there are different water requirements for potatoes when it comes to the level of moisture in the soil.

Read to the end, because a little know-how goes a long way toward growing delicious potatoes!

How Much Water Do Potatoes Need?

Growing a healthy crop of potatoes in the garden is a bit different than growing them in containers, which is becoming a popular method for the hobby gardener or those with space restrictions.

The consistency of your planting soil should have good drainage, with plenty of organic matter for nutrients in the mix, so you don’t have to fertilize during the growing season.

Next, let’s look at how much you should water your potato plants for each method of planting.

In The Garden

The trick to growing good potatoes is to remember this is a root crop that prefers moist soil.

Saturating the garden plot with water daily will rot and destroy your potatoes since they don’t like their “feet” being wet.

Too much water at the root level is the reason it’s imperative you provide a soil that drains well, especially if you live in a high-rainfall area.

watering potatoes in the garden

Aim for one to two inches of water across your crop each week, either from rain or from manual watering.

I live in a region that can have long spans of no rain. I prefer to spray my potatoes every two or three days with around a half-inch of water to keep the soil moist, without worry that I am damaging the root system.

Find the system that works best for your climate and stick to it.

TIP: Use a rain water gauge to quickly see how much water your potatoes are getting. A rainfall or dousing with the hose may seem heavy, but when you check the gauge, you may find you still need to give your crop another half-inch or so of water that week.

In A Container

Potatoes in containers need at minimum one inch of water a week with up to an extra half-inch if you feel your soil needs it.

The beautiful thing about growing potatoes in containers is the ability to check the soil moisture level quickly. You can either stick your finger down a few inches and feel, or use a moisture meter.

Related | Best Moisture Meters

Make sure any container you use has suitable drainage holes at the bottom or a minimum of two inches of gravel, so the potato roots never set in soaking wet soil.

How To Water Potatoes

Over the growing season, you do need to adjust the water requirements for potatoes slightly, so they receive the perfect amount of water during the different stages of growth.

Doing so will increase production and keep the plant healthier, which deters diseases from forming.

TIP: The more evenly you water the surface of your garden or container, the more consistent the tubers will be in shape and size.

First stage: Start by planting your seed potatoes in moist soil that is not overly wet. A three-inch layer of mulch around your plants will help maintain soil moisture at this stage.

If the soil remains reasonably moist, try to wait for new leaf growth (which takes between one and two weeks) before you begin regular watering.

A gentle rainfall is fine, but at this stage, you want the roots to develop by reaching for the moisture in the soil, and new vine growth is a good indication of root establishment.

Related | How To Get Potatoes To Sprout

Second stage: Now that your potato plants are beginning to flourish, the watering schedule changes to focus on keeping the soil from drying out.

As the plants are smaller, start with one inch of water a week if it maintains a proper moisture level. As the potatoes grow with the right amount of sunlight, increase the water amount a little bit each week until you reach around two inches.

The ideal way to handle this stage is to check the soil conditions daily until you see a pattern. I need to soak my plants about every three days to keep the soil from drying out completely between waterings.

You will continue this watering pattern until your potato vines begin to turn yellow and die off, which indicates the growth of the potatoes has stopped. At this third stage, which I explain below, you again change the way you water your potato crop.

When To Stop Watering Potatoes

The trick to getting the most from your potato crop is to know when to stop watering your plants, which brings us to this last section.

Third stage: You have two choices when it comes to this stage:

  • Give yourself around two weeks before you plan to harvest your potato crop
  • Let your potato vines yellow and begin to wither naturally

At either of these stages, you need to stop watering your potato plants entirely. I understand there may be natural rainfall, but do not worry about letting the soil dry out at this stage of the growing season.

Why?

Letting the soil dry out helps cure the potatoes and get them ready for harvest.

Without moisture in the soil, the skins of the potato will toughen up, which makes them easier to pull without causing damage to the outer layer. Potatoes without damage will last longer when you store them.

In Summary

It’s easy to grow potatoes in your home garden when you know the basic water requirements for potatoes and follow them during the growing season.

Following the watering rules in this guide should help you harvest a great-looking crop of potatoes that you can proudly serve in delicious dishes all year long!