a potato plant fully grown with purple and yellow flowers variety Maris Piper

What Does A Potato Plant Look Like: images and descriptions

I assume by the search for the title of this article that you have found a plant growing somewhere that you have not intentionally planted. I will show you a list of images of potato plants at various stages of their lifecycle to hopefully help you identify the plant as a potato plant or not. Let’s find out – what does a potato plant look like?

Potato plants in the early development stages

Depending on the time of year and temperature most planted potato seeds will emerge through the soil anytime from 3 to 6 weeks – if the seed has been chitted it will be quicker to appear. These young potato plants in the image below were planted 4 weeks ago at the start of June.

young potato plants
These young potato plants have just emerged through the soil about 10 days ago.

A potato plant in the middle of development

From beginning to end a potato plant takes between 90 to 100 days or 12 weeks from planting to harvesting. The plant in the image below is about 6 weeks old and is about 1 1/2 feet tall.

The potato plant will continue to grow upwards and outwards until it flowers at around 8-9 weeks, at which point the leaves and foliage will begin to shrink back in height as more energy is transferred into the making of the potatoes under the soil.

a 6 week old potato plant
This potato plant is about 6 weeks old

A potato plant at the flowering stage

Once the potato plant has reached the maximum size of leaf and stem growth upward and outwards it will begin to flower just after 2/3rds of the way through its life cycle. The plant can be 3 ft high and 3 feet across at this stage, although the fertility of the soil and the potato plant variety will all have their influence.

an 8 week old potato plant
This potato plant is about 8 weeks old and has just flowered.

A potato plant ripening before harvest

In the last 3 weeks of a potato plant’s life, its leaves and stems will gradually sink back towards the soil and the leaves will lose their green colour and begin to turn yellow, then as they die back they will turn brown and drop off. Many growers not used to this sight become worried that the plant has something wrong with it but it is perfectly natural and just part of the plant’s life cycle.

potato plants ripening
Potato plants ripening

Close up of the leaves on a potato plant

As you can see from the image below, not all the leaves on a singular potato plant will look the same. This plant has large smooth leaves close to the base of the plant and smaller more textured leaves near the top of the plant. This potato plant was nearly full size when the image was taken.

textures of large and small potato plant leaves
This image shows the difference between the large smooth leaves at the bottom of the plant and the smaller more textured leaves at the top of the same plant.

Potato plant leaves have short hairs on the surface

As you can see in the close-up image of the potato plant leaf below, each leaf has tiny short hairs on the surface.

hairs on potato leaf
Note the short hairs on the upper side of the potato leaves

The underside of a potato leaf is usually less green in colour and not as glossy as the top surface, it also has short hairs although generally, they are more difficult to see. It is much easier to see the veins and midrib of each leaf on the underside than on the top.

underside of potato leaf
The duller underside of the potato leaf pictured above shows the veins and midrib.

The stems of a potato plant

When a potato plant is first emerging through the soil it will have fine, smooth, thin stems, which as the plant grows become thicker and more textured and ribbed.

The stems in the image below belong to an almost fully grown potato plant, pictured near the base of the plant next to the soil where they are thickest. Note that the stems can have some darker colours also – they are not just green.

On most potato plants which are fully grown, you can make out multiple flat ribbons running along the outside of the stem from the bottom of the plant to the top.

potato plant stems
The thick stems at near the base of the potato plant where it meets the soil.

The flowers on a potato plant

Not all potato plants flower, although many do. The colour size and shape of the flower will depend on the variety grown. The flowers in the images below belong to two different varieties- Maris Piper and Jazzy. If your potato has a flower on it, it should make it easier to identify as being a potato plant as the flowers on all potato plants are quite similar in size and shape – even though they may vary in colour.

purple potato plant flower
The purple and yellow flower on the variety “Maris Piper”
white flower on potato plant
The white and yellow flower on the variety “Jazzy”

I hope you found my short guide helpful – If you still feel unsure and would like a second opinion – why not send me a photo of the plant and I’ll take a look at it. Good luck!