How Long Can You Leave Potatoes In The Ground? (My Best Tips)

Potatoes have been a staple crop grown by the masses on a worldwide scale for as long as time has been recorded.

They require little space to grow and can produce a decent yield. They are also an extremely versatile food source with abundant vital nutrients.

But, do you know exactly how long can you leave potatoes in the ground?

You can leave potatoes in the ground for 2-3 weeks without worrying. In fact, it’s a good practice as it helps to harden or ‘cure’ as they aren’t supplied with any extra nutrients by the plant itself.

However, there are several ways to mess up a growing cycle. These include harvesting too early, too late or exposing them to frost, to name a few. It’s common to leave them unharvested for around 2 weeks but no longer.

Let’s look at some key factors surrounding potatoes and their time left underground.

How long can you leave potatoes in the ground

How long can you leave potatoes in the ground?

As a general rule of thumb, potatoes can be left for around 2-3 weeks once the plant dies. The biggest advantage to leaving them that extra bit longer is that it allows them to harden or ‘cure’ as they aren’t supplied with any extra nutrients by the plant. The nutrient supply keeps them moist and living.

Once that supply is cut off, though, the skin forms a harder crust. However, leaving them too long can cause a few issues. Namely, they can rot as they are surrounded by moist soil without a source of life to grow. It’s usually safe to dig them up once the tops of the vines have completely died. 

How long can you leave potatoes in the soil?

Once the top ends of the potato vines have completely decayed and broken away with ease, it’s a sure sign that they are ready to be harvested. Additionally, the flowers will start to fade up, and buds will begin to drop off when the crop is ready.

The principle is quite similar whether the potatoes grow in the ground or a makeshift garden filled with soil. Let the vines die out and avoid harvesting them for up to 2 weeks, 3 if the climate isn’t too cold. At this point, the potatoes will stop growing in size as their food supply is shut down.

How long can you leave potatoes in the soil

This process can take anywhere between 8-12 weeks after planting them. If the growing conditions are optimised, you’ll generally receive 5-10 potatoes per plant. 

What happens if you don’t harvest potatoes?

There’s much debate surrounding the timeframe that a potato crop should be left before harvesting. Generally, it’s not wise to leave them any longer than 2-3 weeks maximum. If the potatoes are left sitting under the ground, the risk of them rotting will increase severely.

What happens if you don't harvest potatoes

Once the vines die, the plant will stop feeding the potatoes. As a result, the potatoes stop growing. They are no longer living organisms, and the conditions they are subject to play a huge role in how they deteriorate.

Their longevity clock begins to tick, and 2-3 weeks is about as much time as they have to maintain their form without external manipulation.

Any longer, and they will begin to rot. If left in slightly moist soils, they may be able to be preserved for a little longer. It’s not all doom and gloom; potatoes can potentially form a perennial potato patch.

If the climate they are grown in is warm and dry enough, any plant tubers that manage to survive over the winter can go on to sprout again during the following spring. 

Can I leave potatoes in the ground over winter?

Growing potatoes is generally simple and pain-free. ,However, there are a couple of scenarios that can ruin your hard work extremely fast. One is left unharvested, which causes them to rot. The other is leaving them to grow in cold conditions.

Of course, depending on the geographic location of your potato growing setup, there is a chance that it can survive through the winter. Potatoes will not continue to grow when day and/or nighttime temperatures are consistently lower than 45°F (7°C).

Can I leave potatoes in the ground over winter

So, if the winters are mild and don’t drop below these temperatures, they will continue to grow without any problems.

Potatoes should be planted in March (Northern Hemisphere) or September (Southern Hemisphere) to enable them to be ready in Midsummer to Early Fall/Autumn. Depending on species and growing conditions, they usually take between 60-90 days from planting to harvest. 

What do potato plants look like when ready to harvest?

Understanding the signs to look out for when the crop should be harvested is an important step in the overall growth process. Leaving them too long can allow them to rot and ruin our hard work. Let’s look at the signs in more detail to better judge when to harvest. 

The best indicator is the condition of the plant’s foliage. Depending on the species or type of potato, some have flowers growing along the vines.

The flowers will usually shrivel up first, and the buds will begin to drop. Next, we can observe the vines that grow above the ground, which are connected to the potatoes. They are what supply the potatoes with nutrients and light from above.

If they have become dry and look like you could pull them without resistance, the potatoes below the soil have fully matured and are ready.

If unsure, you can always dig up 1-2 potatoes to check their condition. Harvesting them is as simple as using a garden spade or fork to loosen the surrounding soil and gently lifting them out. 

Depending on whether or not the climate allows it, potatoes can be grown pretty much all year round as long as the soil/ground temperatures don’t exceed 100°F (38°C) or drop below 45°F (7°C) consistently. Once planted in optimal growing conditions, a batch of potatoes may take between 60-90 days to be ready for harvesting.

Potatoes are usually planted in March (Northern Hemisphere) or September (Southern Hemisphere). This will see them ready for harvest around the middle of summer to early in the fall/autumn.

As mentioned, countries or areas with warmer climates can allow potatoes to be grown further into their seasons. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the best way to store potatoes long-term?

Storing your newly grown potato crop somewhere dry, dark and well-ventilated is essential. Any exposure to light and/or moisture can cause the skin to rot, which spoils the potatoes. Wicker baskets or netted bags work best when stored up off the ground to allow draughts to regulate the air.

What is the best way to store potatoes for winter?

Storing potatoes during the colder months is much like long-term storage. Place them in bins, baskets or cardboard boxes with adequate ventilation; these containers work best. Aim to keep them off the ground in a dark, dry, well ventilated area. E.g., a garage or storage room. Keep them insulated with newspaper and at temperatures above 45°F (7°C).

Where should potatoes be stored in the summer?

Try to keep them out of direct sunlight and moisture and protect them from temperatures that exceed 100°F (38°C). This type of heat will cause them to rot much faster. Store them in a dark, dry, well ventilated area in wicker or netted baskets.

Can I leave potatoes in the ground after the plant dies?

Potatoes can be left underground for 2-3 weeks once the plant above ground shrivels up and dies. At this point, the potatoes will have fully matured and be ready to be harvested.

What month are potatoes ready to harvest?

Depending on what geographic location the potatoes are grown will ultimately determine the month they can be harvested. Areas with warmer climates can allow the potatoes to grow longer into the season. They are generally planted in March (Northern Hemisphere) or September (Southern Hemisphere). This makes them ready around mid summer to early fall/autumn.


Potatoes are generally pretty easy to both grow and harvest. They can also provide quite a lot of food if grown in optimal conditions. The easiest way to tell if they are ready for harvest is by observing the condition of the foliage grown above the ground.

Once they die off, you have around 2-3 weeks to remove the potatoes before they begin to rot. We hope this article has been helpful, and we look forward to producing more just like this to help you on your journey. As always, happy growing!

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