QUESTION: My potato plants aren’t flowering. How do I do know when to reap them? Do potatoes need to flower before harvesting? -Matt G
ANSWER: Don’t worry if your potato plants aren’t producing blooms. The flowers aren’t needed so as for the plants to grow delicious tubers underground. Instead, the blossoms are linked to the production of the tiny, green above-ground fruits that resemble tomatoes. Despite this resemblance, the fruits of the potato plant are poisonous and will never be eaten. They contain a toxic level of solanine, a toxic alkaloid that forms when parts of the potato plant are exposed to sunlight.
Solanine is that the reason parts of the potato tuber turn green once they are in touch with sunlight. These greenish parts of the potato must be cut away before the potato is consumed. All the above-ground portions of the potato are poisonous and will not be eaten, including the flowers, stems, leaves, fruits, and any tubers that remained above ground. Consumption of parts of the potato that contain solanine can cause confusion, diarrhea, digestive discomfort, drowsiness, vomiting, shortness of breath, and weak or rapid pulse, and if solanine poisoning isn’t treated, the one that consumed it can die thanks to respiratory failure.
If you grow potatoes and your plants didn’t bloom out, you’ll be wondering how you’ll tell when your tubers are able to be harvested. (Some gardeners recommend expecting the flowers to dissolve before exhumation potatoes.) In your case, await the foliage of the potato plants to wither, go dry, and go over as a sign for you to start out harvesting your potato crop.