So, How Much Water Do Potatoes Need?

Potatoes are one of the most versatile and beloved vegetables enjoy the world over, and certainly the most ubiquitous root vegetable. But as versatile and popular as they are, they can be quite tricky to grow.

potatoes growing in raised garden bed
potatoes growing in raised garden bed

One of the factors contributing to their reputation as a troublesome veggie is there varying water requirements throughout their growth phases. So, just how much water do potatoes need?

Potatoes usually need between 1 and 2 inches of water per week, given every 5 days or so. A slow, deep soaking that avoids getting the leaves wet is best for potatoes.

It’s easy to go wrong when watering potatoes because their water requirements are different when they are seed, when they sprout and when they begin to properly mature.

It’s not particularly difficult, but you’ve got to know what you are doing if you don’t want to lose them. I’ll tell you what you need to know down below. Grab your gloves, and let’s get going.

What’s the Best Time to Water Potatoes?

The best time to water potatoes is in the morning if you can manage it.

Because potatoes need to be soaked infrequently for best results, taking care of this in the morning will allow the soil to absorb the maximum amount of moisture without being subject to evaporation during midday heat.

This will naturally give your potatoes a head start when it comes to heat resistance… It also reduces the likelihood that they will suffer from fungal outbreaks which are a possibility if they are watered during hot conditions.

How Much Water Do Potatoes Need Per Week?

Potatoes need quite a bit of water per week, but not as much as some people think. Aim for between 1 and 2 inches of water total, depending on the variety, your soil and the ambient conditions.

How Often Should You Water Potatoes?

Potatoes must be watered infrequently for best results. A good rule of thumb is to plan on watering them once every 5 days or so, but you make that watering really count: your potatoes should be soaked deeply but slowly.

This will allow the soil to remain moist longer between waterings, conditions which potatoes prefer.

Note that even during very dry conditions, you must not give in to the urge to water your potatoes on a daily basis.

You might need to water them every 3 days or so during very dry conditions, but watering them every day is excessive and will lead to disease and other problems in your potatoes.

Remember, you can always check to see how moist the soil is by using a hygrometer, or moisture meter, or just sticking your finger into the top inch or two of soil.

If the soil feels dry or barely damp, it’s probably time to water your potatoes again. If it’s moist, leave them alone even if it’s been 3 or 4 days, and consider that your potatoes might only need to be watered once a week!

Do Potatoes Like Wet Soil?

It totally depends on what phase of growth they are in.

Potatoes that are mature generally like soil that is quite damp, but not totally waterlogged. However, when they’re first planted you only want the soil to stay moist, but no more.

Excess moisture will lead to fungal infection and other diseases or rot that will easily wipe them out before they can even germinate.

Once your potatoes have sprouted, slightly increase the amount of water you give them, and once they are fully established it is time to start watering them deeply and less frequently.

But do remember to check soil moisture levels periodically until you zero in on exactly how much water they need and how often.

Can Potatoes Be Overwatered?

Yes, they absolutely can be! Potatoes are especially vulnerable to over-watering prior to sprouting. This will easily lead to rot which will annihilate them, or it can instill other diseases that can severely hamper or even halt growth.

Mature, established tomato plants like a lot more moisture in the soil, but even they can get too much, causing all sorts of problems.

What are Some Problems Associated with Overwatering Potatoes?

For seedling potatoes, rot will be a constant enemy associated with overwatering, and invariably it will devastate your crop. Later in the germination cycle, fungal or bacterial diseases could severely stunt your potato plants.

As much as mature potato plants like water, you shouldn’t overdo it because their roots are still vulnerable to rot. If this takes hold, the potatoes themselves will quickly deteriorate.

Also, remember that you ideally want to give your potatoes water right at the ground level using drip or soaker hoses.

Avoid getting the leaves wet because potato foliage is especially vulnerable to bacterial and fungal diseases brought on by moisture.

How Will You Know if Potatoes Aren’t Getting Enough Water?

The symptoms of too little water in potatoes are fairly obvious. The tips of the leaves will begin to yellow followed by the whole leaf, the whole plant will look dried out and- prior to the onset of the flowering phase- they won’t flower if they are badly dehydrated.

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s definitely time to check the soil moisture levels. You should not assume that it is a lack of water until you do so, because you can easily do more harm than good by overwatering potatoes.

Even if the soil is dry, take care to follow the usual prescription for the amount of water you give them: overwatering isn’t a solution for damage or stress brought on by a lack of water.

Just get them back on a schedule and they should recover if it’s not too late.

How Often Should You Water Potatoes in Pots?

Potatoes are surprisingly amenable to growing in containers so long as the container is tall enough. Also, take pains to ensure that the container drains well.

Drill extra drainage holes and consider raising them off the ground to further speed drainage. Assuming you do that, water your container potatoes the same as you would ones planted in the ground.

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