When to Plant Potatoes in Central Florida

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When to Plant Potatoes in Central Florida

Home gardening and growing your own food have become very popular. Central Florida is part of plant hardiness zones 8a to 9b. That makes the region ideal for growing many plants, including potatoes. Potatoes don't need a lot of maintenance, but it's crucial to plant them during the right season and give them everything they need for a successful harvest.

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When to Plant Potatoes in Central Florida

For your potato plants to thrive, you need to get them in the ground at the right time. The best time to plant potatoes in central Florida is early in the year, ideally either January or February. This planting time ensures that they have the right conditions during the crucial first few months of growth. If you want to try for a second harvest, you can plant them again in late August or early September, but early in the year is best.

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Luckily, Florida soil is typically hospitable for potato plants that need a soil pH of around 5 or 6, meaning the soil is slightly acidic. You may need to add nitrogen or potassium to the soil. Potatoes also need good water drainage and won't do well if the roots are soaked for long periods, so build beds about a foot off the ground above any standing water. Plant potatoes in rows, spacing the rows about 3 feet apart and the potatoes in the rows about 6 inches apart.

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Best Types of Potatoes to Plant in Central Florida

While climate and weather conditions in central Florida can be ideal for some types of potato plants, not all will thrive in the region. Because of these climate condition requirements, it's critical to plant suitable types. If you want to grow white-skinned potatoes, the best varieties include the La Chipper, Sebago and Yukon Gold, which are all scientifically designated under the name Solanum tuberosum.

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For red-skinned potatoes, the best varieties are Red La Soda and La Rouge, which are also scientifically designated Solanum tuberosum. Finally, most russet potatoes don't typically grow well in central Florida except for the Russet Norkotah. You can visit a gardening center for more advice on what types of potatoes and other plants you can grow in the central Florida area. Still, you might have better luck with the county extension offices of the University of Florida IFAS, as they can give you more detailed explanations.

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Caring for Potato Plants in Central Florida

Potatoes are pretty hardy plants and will grow well without much maintenance. Still, there are some things you should do to help them. Plant them in an area that receives full sunlight, as they need a lot of sunshine to grow. Make sure the soil is adequately fertilized and well-drained. You may need to practice hilling if you see potato sprouts appear above the soil. Otherwise, the sprouts will turn green and be inedible.

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Weed your potato garden regularly, as weeds will aggressively compete with potatoes for sunlight and nutrients. It would be best if you also protected them from insects and other pests. Common potato pests in central Florida are aphids, Colorado potato beetles, flea beetles, leafhoppers and wireworms. If your garden is small, you may be able to pick them off and use other natural methods to rid your plants of pests. For larger-scale farming, though, you may need to consider an insecticide.

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