Why Do Potatoes Sprout?

What are the Reasons for Sprouting? Why are there Sprouts in Potatoes even When they are not Planted? Can Potatoes see with Their Eyes? Why are they called Eyes?
why do potatoes sprout

Potatoes are a vegetable that is everyone’s favorite. Everyone can name various dishes that they love made from potatoes. Like french fries, patty, mashed potatoes, and many more. You all know that you may or may not have any other vegetables in your house but you surely have potatoes. They have become your last resort. But when they are left alone, they do something weird. Do you know what are potato eyes and can they be harmful? Those green or white mini stems like things poking out from various mini holes in the potatoes are potatoes sprouts. Why do potatoes sprout even when they are not planted?

1. What is the Meaning of Sprouting?

Before moving on to the various reasons why do potato sprouts, you should understand what sprouting means. It is a method in which a new tiny plant or root-like structure starts growing from a fruit or vegetable. You see this process mostly when you soak grams in water and small white roots come out of the seeds. This is called sprouts and the process is known as sprouting. (Also read Do Sunflowers Grow Back Every Year?)

2. Is Sprouting a Part of its Reproduction?

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Just like all other plants, potatoes are also grown from seed. But these seeds are those small green roots that grow on the surface of the potatoes. Potatoes are grown from small tubers of themselves which have at least two eyes. These tubers with eyes are termed potato seeds. Generally, potatoes sprouting is the first stage of their growth or reproduction process. The growth of buds or sprouting of tiny leaves is part of the natural reproductive cycle of the potato. This is the logic behind the response to why do potatoes sprout. (See What are the Types of Sunflower Seeds?)

3. What is Tuber?

  • Tubers are the storage organs of potatoes. Potatoes have stem tubers and they develop gradually over time.
  • A tuber has essential parts of a normal stem which are nodes and internodes. Internally a tuber has typical cell structures just like other stems, which are pith, cortex, and vascular zone.
  • The nodes are like the eyes from which the new root emerges. Each node has a scar or a cut available for the leaf to emerge.
  • A mature tuber has small openings on its skin, and each opening has a small bump on them. This bump is the stem bud from which a new plant can grow. And as the conditions become favorable then the bump began to swell and finally, a small green bud pops out.

So, why do potatoes sprout? Now you know that they sprout to produce new potatoes. (See Are Potatoes Vegetables or Fruits?)

4. What do you Mean by Growth of Eyes?

Four potatoes with large stems sprouting from all over them.

The green stems arising from the holes in the potatoes are known as the eyes of the potato. They are called eyes because they resemble eyes on the face but practically they are called Sprouts.

The eyes of a potato are the axillary buds and are not matured yet. While the long slit above them is the leaf scars and they look like the eyebrows. They start growing because the temperature around them is warm enough along with the required humidity to enhance the growth process.

So, why do potatoes sprout, and if it is related to the growth of the eyes? Well, yes it is. This stage of eye growth is the early step of forming new plants. Eyes are the buds that are growing into becoming a new potato. (See What is the Most Expensive Truffle?)

5. What happens at the End of the Dormancy of Potatoes?

  • The period when there is no growth in potatoes is known as the dormancy period or resting period. After the crops are harvested the growth period and the enzymes within the potatoes go into the dormant stage. This period may last from 30 days to the next spring season as well. During this time the outer layers of potatoes show no signs of growth and remain clean. Usually, the crops of potatoes develop during the beginning of spring.
  • But under some conditions, the dormancy period ends and then you can see little beads grown from those holes. This period ends when the potato is kept at a certain temperature. Now, why do potatoes sprout at home then? It is done when stored in refrigerators. The sucrose content of the potato increases, leading to the end of its dormancy. In turn, the potato starts developing sugar from the starch that was stored in them. They get energy from this to grow new stems and develop into a new plant. (Also read How to Grow Sunflower In A Pot?)

6. How to Store Potatoes?

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This is the most important factor when the growth of buds or eyes is considered. When potatoes are harvested and are required to be stored then the storage facility needs to be rich in all conditions.

  • If the place of storing them has warmth, and humidity and provides light but not direct sunlight. When they are kept in this condition for two weeks or more then it opens the eyes or buds and triggers sprouting as well.
  • Temperature plays the most vital role in sprouting or controlling the sprouting process. In big storage houses, the temperature is kept above 10-degree Celsius to reduce the built-up of starch in potatoes hence increasing their dormant period. The sprouting begins if the potatoes are kept in a shady place with a temperature below 40-degree F.
  • In homes, they are kept in a refrigerator and are not properly packed in a polybag that has small holes in it. The polybag with no holes will trap humidity within and if kept like this for over two weeks, lead to the growth of buds.
  • Similarly, when you keep potatoes with onions, their sprouting speed increases. Because onions emit ethylene gas which speeds up the ripening process. (Also read What is Golden Delicious Apples?)

7. How does the Action of Enzyme Work?

Tubers are rich in starch content. They generally have a water content of up to 80%. Now when they get all the other necessary favorable conditions required to trigger sprouting, then the internal enzymes also start working. Relative humidity at 95% combined with warm temperature works well with the water level already present in the potatoes. 

The enzyme responsible for why do potatoes sprout is Solanine, a neurotoxin. This enzyme converts starch to sugar in potatoes. Then the bud breaks and sprouting starts. They use that energy for growing the buds and becoming a new plants. (Also read 34 Medicinal Plants Worth Your Garden Space)

8. Does the Early Spring good for its Cultivation?

Usually, the crops of potatoes develop during the beginning of spring. So, when you put them in a favorable place, then the tuber feels like the spring has arrived. So it’s time to start the growing process and develop new potatoes. (See 107 Delicious and Amazing Ways to Cook Potatoes)

So, the misunderstanding was caused due to all the favorable growth conditions being the reason why do potatoes sprout at home or in the refrigerator. And the real logic behind this is the growth of the eyes. (Also read Features and Types of Bale)

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