Do Potatoes Need Full Sun?
Do potatoes need full sun? That’s a question often asked by potato enthusiasts. Potatoes are native to the mountain region of South America known as the Andes. In this area, tubers receive a vast amount of sunlight for around 12 hours a day during most of the year. So, after centuries of adaptation in other countries, is it the same now for potatoes grown at home?
Potatoes do need full sun for several hours a day. However, the minimum amount of sunlight necessary for these plants to flourish may vary slightly depending on the variety and location. White potatoes, for example, may require a bit more sun than red ones. Also, tubers grown in the tropics may do better with slightly less direct sunlight than those at northern latitudes.
Managing the right amount of sunlight given to your potato crops can be tricky. So, keep on reading to find out how many hours of light your potatoes need to develop the way they should be.
Is Light Necessary for Potato Plants?
Light is necessary for potatoes and pretty much any other plant. It is true, though, that some plants need more light than others. In the case of potatoes, at the very least, 6 hours of sunlight are required to stimulate tubers’ growth, which is the part we are interested in.
How Many Hours of Light do Potato Plants Need?
The minimum number of hours of full sun (direct sunlight) that potatoes should receive to get decent results is 6 hours. However, that also depends on the variety and climate where the tubers are grown.
Also, you have to remember that all sunlight should be directed at the stems and leaves, which allows the plant to generate plenty of energy as a result of the photosynthesis process.
All that energy helps the plant develop a robust root system, which, as you may imagine, results in a more significant number of tubers of larger sizes. It’s also crucial to refrain from exposing the tubers to sunlight as that will trigger the production of solanine, making the potatoes poisonous.
Can Potato Plants Get too Much Sunlight?
It is possible for potato plants to get too much sun. You see, when ultraviolet radiation is excessive, plants’ leaves may turn from dark green to light green. Then, they wither, changing from green to brown until they dry up. Dry leaves hinder the formation of healthy tubers, so you want to avoid that from happening at all costs.
Tubers are also susceptible to extreme solar radiation. They may turn watery and green or end up not forming at all under such conditions. Of course, those problems may also arise when temperatures are well above 85 °F consistently. Too much sunlight is a problem that is more common in the tropics, especially during summer. Fortunately, there are ways to deal with this problem, such as providing partial shade and keeping the soil moist.
What Happens if Potatoes Don't get Enough Sun?
A lack of sunlight results in poor crop yield. Why? Well, a low amount of light means the plant won’t be able to gather enough energy to create the decent-sized tubers you desire. Remember, sunlight is essential for photosynthesis; without it, plants become weak, which means no food for us.
Do Potatoes Need Full Sunlight to Grow?
It is possible to grow your potato crops with moderate sunlight. However, if you are filtering it, it will likely require 8 hours or more to have a decent harvest. Even with a bit of shade, you may be able to have potatoes in your backyard, but the resulting amount may not be as great as you would like. (reference)
Which Type of Sunlight Is Better for Potatoes: Full, Partial, or Total Shade?
As long as your crops receive sun for over 6 hours, there is hope of getting potatoes. Of course, you could be considering the possibility that some shade might help your potatoes a bit. But that may or may not work. So first, let’s define full sun, partial shade, and full shade, and see which method can give us optimal results.
Full Sun is the same as direct sunlight. Ideally, potatoes should be exposed to full sun for around 8 hours or more to have a good yield. If you live in a high-latitude region, you should allow your potato plants to get as much sun as possible to get lots of large and yummy tubers.
Partial shade or partial sun means you let your plants get from 3 to 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. You can achieve it by filtering the sunlight or providing shade for a specific time (between 2 and 4 hours). The partial shade approach works best in tropical or subtropical areas where excessive direct sun exposure during summer might be too harsh for the plants.
Total shade implies that no direct or filtered sunlight reaches a specific area. If you want to grow potatoes at some point, you need light! You can’t use full shade in your garden and expect a bountiful potato harvest.
The following video shows the difference between potatoes grown in full sun vs. partial sun:
How Many Hours of Sunlight do the Different Potato Types Need?
Although almost all potato varieties share a similar demand for sunlight, there are a few differences that may influence the size and number of potatoes harvested. Most types can do well with full sun, but others are more delicate and may need to avoid the direct midday sun rays under certain conditions.
White potatoes are among the types that require the most sun. Usually, a minimum of 8 hours is needed to get good results, but more hours are better. The exception might be tropical summers that could burn the plant if you don’t pay attention to it. In such a case, you can cover some leaves with soil while allowing only a portion of them to receive full sun at any given time.
Red potatoes have the potential to do well with at least 6 hours of full sunlight. They are a better alternative than white ones for tropical areas as they can do decent with partial shade. In temperate regions, they shouldn’t have any problems.
Purple potatoes are similar to red ones. They can perform well with 6 hours of sunlight and are a good choice when working in tropical climates (resource). Once more, partial shade is recommended to protect these plants from excessively intense sunlight.
Yukon Gold potato plants may also produce a decent amount of tubers with only 6 hours of sunlight. They are also suited for the tropics as long as some shade is provided.
Do potatoes need full sun? Full sun is generally better than little or no sun. The sunlight your potato plants receive plays a vital role in the quality and quantity of your potato harvest. But that’s not all. If you combine it with the type of potato that goes well with the climate you live in, you might even grow more and larger potatoes than you thought possible.