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Do Potato Plants Need Full Sun?

Potato plants truly thrive when planted in a sunny spot that receives full sun. They produce best when given 6–8 hours of direct sunlight each day. Potatoes will still grow in indirect sunlight, but their yield decreases. In full shade, potato plants cannot grow healthy leaves and stems. When potato plants don’t get enough sun, they cannot create the energy needed to grow large tubers. Potato plants cannot get too much sun. But they do not grow well in extremely warm weather.

Do potato plants need full sun?

How Many Hours of Sun Do Potato Plants Need?

Potato plants need 6 hours of exposure to sunlight each day. They do even better when given 8 hours of full sun. The bright sunlight helps the plants grow lush stems and leaves first. The green potato leaves can then start converting sunlight into energy through photosynthesis.

  • Potato plants need 6–8 hours of sunlight per day.
  • Potatoes store the excess energy produced through photosynthesis in their edible roots.
  • Each potato plant’s total harvest depends on the amount of sunlight it gets.
  • Each tuber can grow a new potato plant if left in the ground after the season ends.

Potato plants store all the excess energy in their edible potato tubers. This allows them to survive long periods when basic sunlight conditions aren’t met. So, you must make sure your plants get a lot of direct sunlight if you want proper root development and the biggest potato harvests. Each tuber can grow a new plant if you don’t harvest your potatoes at the end of the season.

Can Potato Plants Grow in Indirect Sunlight?

Potato plants can grow in indirect sunlight. However, the decrease in sun exposure will decrease your harvest size. The lack of bright sunlight slows the production of glucose through photosynthesis. This means your plant will not grow as many tubers to hold the excess energy. In addition, the tubers it does grow will not be as large either.

  • Potato plants can grow in indirect sunlight, but their yield will decrease considerably.  
  • The lack of bright sunlight slows the production of glucose, which is stored in the tubers.
  • Without enough sunlight, potato plants will grow smaller, less plentiful tubers.
  • Potatoes need at least 6 hours of indirect sunlight per day to produce any edible tubers.
  • Low light conditions can leave stems weak and in need of extra support.

Without at least 6 hours of indirect sunlight per day, your potato plant won’t produce any edible tubers. Furthermore, the stems may grow too fast and fail to hold up the leaves. At that point, the plants will fall over without support. Loosely tie your potato plant’s stem to a stake to help it survive.  

Can Potato Plants Grow in Shade?

Potato plants do not grow well in full or deep shade. The potatoes will still readily sprout in a shady spot without sunlight. But after that, their growth will falter. You’ll instantly notice that the leaves and stems grow slowly, if at all. The stems may grow leggy in an attempt to reach the light. Staking can help your plants stay standing, but it won’t make them much healthier.  

  • Potatoes will not grow very well in shaded spaces.
  • Your potato plants will still sprout without enough sunlight.
  • The lack of sunlight often results in leggy, weak stems and poor leaf growth.   
  • When left without enough sun, plants can only produce enough energy to stay alive.
  • Potatoes grown in shade will not have any energy left to store in the tubers, so you won’t get a harvest.

Without enough sunlight, potato plants will not produce edible tubers. The lack of sunlight leaves them struggling to produce enough energy to stay alive. So, they won’t have any left to store in their tubers. At the end of the season, digging up your potato plants will only reveal a small root system.  It’s best to plant potatoes where they receive enough sun.

What Happens if Potato Plants Don’t Get Enough Sun?

When potato plants do not get enough sun, their rate of photosynthesis decreases. The plants do not have as much extra energy to store as they would in full sun conditions. Without that energy, the plant will not create nearly as many big edible tubers for you to harvest.

  • Photosynthesis slows down when potato plants aren’t planted in a sunny spot.
  • The slow photosynthesis rate means the plants don’t have as much excess energy to store.
  • The tubers will end up smaller and less plentiful due to the lack of extra energy.
  • Less than 6 hours of sunlight per day causes potato plants to struggle to stay alive.
  • Full shade conditions also negatively impact a potato plant’s ability to grow.

The plant will struggle to grow at all if sunlight decreases to less than 6 hours per day. Full shade conditions make it difficult for potato plants to grow normally. The stems may end up weak and unable to support the weight of the leaves. At this point, potato plants cannot produce any edible tubers.

Can Potato Plants Get Too Much Sun?

Potato plants cannot get too much sun. But, they do not grow well in high temperatures. In fact, daytime temperatures above 85°F (29°C) cause the plants to suffer from heat stress. The tuber quality will decline soon after temperatures rise. Risks to the tubers include hollow heart and heat necrosis.

  • Potato plants love to get as much sun as you give them, but heat and extremely warm weather is not their friend.
  • Warm climates with temperatures above 85°F (29°C) will result in poor-quality tubers.
  • Tubers directly exposed to sunlight will start undergoing photosynthesis.
  • The exposed potatoes will turn green as chlorophyll develops in their structure.
  • The green color indicates that the potatoes have a toxic level of solanine.

Tubers can also take a turn for the worse when directly exposed to sunlight. The plant starts using the exposed tuber for photosynthesis. The tuber then turns an unsightly green color as chlorophyll forms. Green potatoes do not just look bad—they are toxic due to the high levels of solanine. If you see any infected plants with potatoes showing green spots or green skin, throw the entire crop out.

How Much Sun Do Potato Plants Require?

For full harvests, potato plants require 6–8 hours of direct sunlight per day. Potatoes can grow in indirect sunlight. They just produce smaller harvests due to the lower energy production. When grown in full shade, or even light shade, potato plants struggle to survive. The sickly plants do not produce any edible tubers.

  • Potatoes produce the biggest harvests when given 6–8 hours of direct sunlight each day.
  • Your plants will grow in indirect sunlight, but their harvest size will decrease.
  • Full shade conditions result in sickly plants that don’t produce any edible tubers.
  • Potatoes grow big tubers by storing excess energy created during photosynthesis.
  • Temperatures above 85°F (29°C) can damage the tubers and destroy your harvest.

Potatoes only grow big harvests when their exposure to sunlight is high for a rapid rate of photosynthesis. The plants then produce a lot of extra energy, which they store in the tubers. Potatoes cannot get too much sunlight, but heat is another story. Temperatures above 85°F (29°C) end up damaging the tubers.

If you give your potatoes enough sunlight, you’ll get a lot of large, healthy potatoes with great flavor. So, take the extra time to find the right spot in your garden. You’ll be well rewarded by an abundant harvest of mature potatoes.

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