How Do Potato Plants Reproduce? (Explained For Beginners)

Nature is full of diversities. There are millions of species on this planet that are unique in their own ways. Likewise, the plant kingdom is a subset of this diversification. Every plant is different; they grow, reproduce, and inhabit the earth in unique ways. The potato plants also have their own special criteria. So, how do potato plants reproduce?

In the case of potato plants, the prime method of reproduction is asexual. In fact, most vegetables primarily propagate asexually. However, they do have some other ways to propagate.

Potatoes are the most widely cultivated vegetable across South American countries. In fact, the vegetable is so versatile that you can make tons of delicious dishes with it! However, if you are a botany enthusiast, you might have had these questions about potato plants. So, please continue reading to learn more!

Primary Way Of Reproduction In Potatoes

Potatoes, or Solanum tuberosum, belong to the nightshade family (Solanaceae). Other members of this family are tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, etc. Actually, the potato is a starchy vegetable that grows underground.

There are several species of potatoes, like the wild ones, the sweet potatoes, Red Bliss, Purple Majesty, All Blue, Austrian Crescents, etc. Although all these species are very different in their appearances, all reproduce in the same way, more or less.

The Two Main Methods For Vegetables

For most vegetables, the primary ways of reproduction are two – sexual and asexual. Actually, flowering plants are commonly monoecious. That is, they have separate male and female flowers.

They produce male and female reproductive gametes respectively, which help in propagation. It is the sexual method of reproduction. On the other hand, reproduction through bulbs, spores, rhizomes, tubers, etc., constitutes the asexual method. The latter is also common as vegetative reproduction.

Vegetative Reproduction In Potatoes

Now, in the case of vegetables like potatoes, they reproduce by tubers. Earlier, there was a time when farmers had little knowledge about plants. They would follow a conventional idea that you need to sow parts of potatoes with ‘’eyes” in the soil and this will produce a plant. This idea was passed on to generations, and now we know the scientific reasons behind this.

In asexual or vegetative reproduction, the plants grow from a part of the vegetable or its plant. So, the vegetative process is initiated by a single parent, whereas the sexual process requires two parents. Thus, asexual reproduction occurs without pollination and fertilization.

Usually, the underground plants reproduce through bulbs and tubers. These are the organs that store food and help the plant grow by using energy from this food. Moreover, there is a significance to using the parts with “eyes.” You will learn about this in the next part.

So, What Are Tubers?

Actually, tubers are the vegetative seeds of a potato plant. They are the parts of the stem which have been modified to give rise to a new potato plant. Typically, they are the food reserves during growth.

The word “vegetative” refers to the parts of a plant. So, when you say vegetative reproduction, you mean that reproduction occurs from a part of the plant. In the case of potatoes, these parts are the stem tubers.

Why Potatoes Need Tubers

The tubers allow the plant to survive in adverse conditions. The part above the ground may die in adverse environments, but the tuber underground will let it stay alive and give birth to new sprouts.

Since these tubers are modified stems, they contain 75% water, and the rest is plant matter. You can use a whole tuber or a cut portion as the vegetative seed. A standard tuber size should be 2×2×2. In fact, this dimension is enough for the tuber to hold sufficient quantities of carbohydrates for the growth of shoots.

And if you are using a cut portion of tuber, allow it to suberize first. It makes sure the tuber is strong enough to become disease and pest-resistant.


Anatomically, the tubers contain more cells and tissues with plastids. These Plasmids are very rich in starch and are also called Amyloplasts. In fact, these help the tuber gain energy and develop new sprouts. Besides, the tubers have nodes that are actually the “eyes.” These eyes have the potential to initiate new growth as they bear lateral buds.

After a period of latency or dormancy, new stems grow from the eyes, and these are the sprouts. You will notice small leaves and shoots from the eyes after a few days. These are actually the sprouts.

It is why farmers from very old times used chunks of potatoes with eyes to cultivate more potatoes. Also, under the soil, they produce stolons that give rise to more tubers.

Tissue Culture In Potatoes

You can use the same tubers for an improved and modern reproduction method – the tissue culture. Basically, this reproduction method is preferable for high-yield purposes where faster reproduction is necessary.

To be fair, a single tuber can multiply and produce eight daughter tubers in a growing period. Meanwhile, by using tissue culture, you can grow 100, 000 tubers in eight months. Transfer this batch to the cultivation field, and you can produce thousands of potato plants in one go!

Also, there is an added benefit – you can control the nutrients and add things to make the tubers disease-free. So, the plants produced from these cultures can be highly improved and hybridised. You can control what goes into the tubers and what should not. The future potato plants can only have the criteria you want.

It is really essential. Because primarily, seeds are used to produce disease-free vegetables. However, growing potatoes from seeds is not really practical for many reasons. You will learn about these at the end of this article.

Actually, the main idea of tissue culture is to use the meristem for culture. The meristem has no vascular system. Thus, it is less affected by any microbe. As a result, the propagation is disease-free and can be stored in laboratories for a long time.

Do Potato Plants Reproduce Sexually?

Yes, potato plants can reproduce sexually like other flowering plants. They produce seeds, which are the prime mediators of sexual reproduction.

It might sound weird to you because you have never seen seeds in potatoes. But it is true. Potatoes can be propagated by seeds. However, these do not grow very big and are used for reproduction purposes. Although seeds are beneficial in the sense that they are resistant to pests and diseases, this method of reproduction is not so helpful.

After successful pollination, the male and female gametes fuse, and fertilization occurs. The pollen is very light and carries through the air, insects, birds, etc. Then, after fertilization, at some point, a fruit grows. The fruits are pretty small, about 1.25 inches in diameter. They contain the true sexual seeds. In fact, they may have as many as 300 seeds per fruit.

Now, all these seeds are unique. And if you sow them, they can give rise to potato plants with unique characteristics. Each plant grows with special features, and they become very different from their mother plants. It happens because the chromosomes are haphazardly disturbed when pollen deposits on the sexual seeds during self-pollination.

So, this can ruin the entire objective of reproduction. The future potato plants’ requirements are hard to predict in this way. There is a massive variation in the genotype and phenotype of future plants and potatoes. Thus, the sexual method of reproduction is not a favorite of the cultivators.

However, it can be helpful if you aim for crop improvements. But these are rarely used in practice. Hence, you do not come across potatoes with seeds that often.


How do potato plants reproduce? You know by now that potatoes use a special kind of vegetative part to reproduce, and that is the tubers. Basically, potatoes propagate asexually, and this is the preferred method widely. However, you can also grow potatoes from seeds too. So, these plants are open to sexual reproduction and tissue culture as well.

Potatoes are easy to grow. Grow some tubers today so you can cultivate a vast field of potatoes someday! Thank you for reading the entire article with patience. Have a good day!