Skip to Content

Do Potato Plants Recover From Frost Damage

Typically, it is much easier to grow potatoes indoors than outdoors. When growing potatoes outdoors, there are many more factors you have to consider that could be harmful to your plant. You have to deal with different bugs, the amount of sunlight it receives, and the overall climate. The rain cycle could affect how often you have to water it, changing your schedule. Plus, if it starts to get too cold outside, you risk your potato plant experiencing frost damage. Do potato plants recover from frost damage?

Yes. Potato plants can recover from frost damage. Potato plants can experience frost to the point of their stems turning black and dying, and they will continue to produce new stems. It only takes them about 10-14 days to have new shoots growing after ones have been killed by frost.

They do not even need to be replanted for these new shoots to grow. Potato plants are incredibly resistant.

Will Potato Plants Recover From Frost

Potato plants are a cold-weather crop, so they can withstand colder temperatures than most other produce. In general, potato plants can survive a light frost in the spring, and that is about it. There have been some cases in which potato plants have survived harder frosts, but they usually experience much damage to their roots and stems.

Typically farmers will plant their potatoes roughly 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date, which protects their potato plants from experiencing frost while still allowing them to grow in the cooler temperatures they like.

How Much Cold Can My Potato Plant Take

A light frost is typically defined as temperatures between 28 to 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and this is about the coldest a potato plant can withstand. A harder frost is defined as any temperature below 28 degrees Fahrenheit.

Temperatures below 28 degrees Fahrenheit can kill the part of the plant that has grown above ground. While this will not kill the plant in its entirety, it will need to expend a lot of energy and spend a lot of time focusing on growing above the soil’s surface again.

The best soil temperature to plant your potato in is 50 degrees Fahrenheit. To reach this temperature, many gardeners will plant their potatoes 2 to 4 weeks before the last frost date, instead of 6 to 8 weeks, to ensure their plant will not be affected by the frost.

What Does Frost Damage On Potatoes Look Like

Damage from a hard frost will typically present itself as black edges along the leaves of the potato plant. In extreme cases, the entire stems of the potato plant, down to its roots will turn black.

The damage will have different levels of extremity based on how cold the temperature actually was when your plant experienced frost. Obviously, the colder it is, the more damage your plant will experience. The extent of the damage will also depend on the plant’s exposure to frost; if it’s typically an outside plant, then the prolonged exposure may have caused longer-lasting damage.

If you already have some protective measures in place to guard your plant against the cold, then there is a better chance of your plant surviving any frost that it experiences. If this is the first time your plant has experienced frost and you did not have protective measures in place, your plant may experience a more dire situation.

How Do You Treat Frost Damaged Potatoes

If your potato plant experiences frost, it is not the end of the world. Potatoes are incredibly resistant plants, and they can bounce back from frost fairly easily. With a little nurturing from you, they will be fully recovered in no time. To start, you will want to prune away anything damaged by the frost. Using some clippers, gently nip off any black leaves or stems.

Once your plant is cleaned up, add some mulch around it for added protection. Mulch will help with moisture retention in the soil, and it will help with retaining some warmth. This helps protect against frost getting down into the plant’s roots.

A layer of mulch around 3 inches deep around frost-affected plants will be the most helpful way to help them grow back. You can also use a stake to help hold the plant up to support it as it regains its strength. Adding some fertilizer to the soil will also help to give your plant the nutrients it needs to grow back nice and strong.

Do I Need To Cover My Potatoes From Frost

Covering your potato plants is a great way to protect them from frost. Many gardeners will cover their potatoes in mounds of soil and water them diligently. This process usually yields more potatoes, but the extra thick layer of soil is also an effective way to keep any frost from getting down into the soil and getting to the plant’s roots.

You can also use a material cover for your potato plant to protect it from frost. Fabric covers tend to be more effective than paper or plastic covers for potato plants. Fabric covers help retain a little more warmth for your plant while ensuring the frost cannot physically touch it.

4 Ways To Protect Potato Plants From Frost

There are four major ways to protect potato plants from frost among gardeners.

1. Cloche

A cloche is known as a mini greenhouse. It is a clear piece of glass or plastic laid over the plant to protect it from the weather. This is an ideal solution for smaller baby plants.

2. Row Cloth

A row cloth is a lightweight piece of fabric that is great for retaining warmth for your plant. Depending on how thick the material is, it can retain anywhere from 2 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Since row cloths are water permeable, you can leave these on all the time and water right through them.

3. A Greenhouse

A greenhouse is one of the most efficient ways to grow your plants. A greenhouse allows for more temperature control, protection from the climate and other threats, and will enable plants to grow to their fullest potential.

4. Hilling

Hilling is the process of piling up soil or mulch at the base of the potato plant as it grows. This helps the tubers stay protected from the sunlight and traps more warmth in the soil. Hilling is a great way to ensure your plant will still survive even if the upper layers experience a hard frost.

Things To Consider

While potatoes are a very resistant plant, this does not mean they can be neglected. The only reason they can survive various stages of frost is from the nurturing and care you give them. When growing plants in colder temperatures, pay close attention to them and take preventive action to keep them protected from frost.