Potatoes in Planters: How to Grow Potatoes in Pots

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Growing potatoes in planters is easy and convenient because planters don’t take a lot of space. Potatoes grow well in large pots and planters.

If you have a deep enough planter, you can be successful at growing potatoes. There are many advantages to this method as well.

Growing potatoes make for a reliable food source. You can grow them across growing seasons and in many hardiness zones.

In addition, planting potatoes in planters frees up your garden to grow other things.

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Potatoes in planters

If you already have planters on your property, the rest is easy.

You will need quality soil and some potatoes.

You can use store-bought potatoes that are sprouting, or you can buy certified seed potatoes from a garden center, nursery, or online.

How deep should a container be for potatoes?

You will want to be sure the planter is deep enough.

The pot or container should be at least 15″ deep for growing potatoes.

The deeper the pot, the more potatoes you can usually grow.

We are successful growing potatoes in 5-gallon buckets and love the convenience of them, but you can usually harvest more tubers when you grow them in a planter.

Materials to get started

  • Planter, pot 
  • Certified seed potatoes or store-bought potatoes
  • Quality potting soil
  • Compost, fertilizer

What potatoes to plant in a planter

Using store-bought potatoes in planters
Using store-bought potatoes in planters

We plant any store-bought potatoes we have that are sprouting.

Sometimes we purchase organic potatoes specifically to try to sprout them.

The downside to buying potatoes from the grocery store and waiting for them to sprout is that they are typically treated with sprout inhibitors.

Seed potatoes

The experts recommend to purchase seed potatoes to plant in planters.

These are actual potatoes you purchase. They are specifically grown and sold to be replanted.

They won’t have been treated with a sprout inhibitor.

While we plant potatoes from the grocery store, if you want to purchase seed potatoes, be sure to buy certified seed potatoes.

When you plant seed potatoes in a planter, you don’t have to wait for them to sprout before planting them.

Sprouts from seed potatoes will start emerging after two weeks until about 28 days.

When to plant potatoes in planters

Plant potatoes in pots, planters and containers after the last frost.

This is late March – mid April in many areas throughout North America.

Knowing your hardiness zone, which is based on the annual average extreme minimum temperature, you can determine the last frost date.

In the spring, after the last frost, you can plant any potato variety. Soil temperature should be at least 40 degrees F (4.4 degrees C).

See below to learn about the difference between potatoes based on their season.

There are some potato varieties you can plant in the middle of summer (mid season potatoes) and others you should plant in late summer into fall (late season potatoes).

Again, in the spring, you can typically plant most all potato varieties.

Good potting soil

Buy some good quality potting soil for your planters.

It should be well-draining.

There are many on the market that include compost.

Otherwise, amend the soil by adding in compost from your pile.

In addition, add organic fertilizer.

Some experts recommend adding bone meal to their potatoes in containers and pots; however, we have never done this.

A huge advantage to growing potatoes in planters is it doesn’t matter if you have poor soil on your property.

You can buy soil that will help grow potatoes.

Planting potatoes in pots

Now for the planting!

It’s important to know how deep to plant potatoes in planters.

For planters without soil in them:

Fill the bottom of the pot with soil up to about 4 – 5″ (10 – 12 cm). It doesn’t have to be exact.

The potatoes grow upward, so you want to have as much room above as possible.

For planters with soil in them already:

If you have a planter with existing soil, you may want to remove much of the soil in order to plant the potatoes 4 – 5″ from the bottom.

Consider what type of soil was in the planter.

You may want to replace some or all of it with new soil with compost.

Even if you don’t remove all of the soil, you will want to incorporate good quality, well-draining potting soil.

Certified seed potatoes in planters:

If you are planting certified seed potatoes, you can either:

  • Plant entire potato before it sprouts
  • Plant entire potato that’s already sprouting with sprout side up
  • Cut potato into chunks before it sprouts; each piece should have at least two eyes

Planting potatoes from the grocery store:

If you are planting potatoes from the grocery store, you must wait for them to sprout.

Otherwise, you may end up planting potatoes that will never grow more potatoes.

Again, this is because they may have been treated with sprout inhibitors.

Then you can either:

  • Plant the entire potato with the sprout side up.
  • Cut the potato into chunks, with a minimum of two eyes per piece. Plant sprout side up.

It’s your choice whether to plant the entire potato or cut it into pieces.

We just plant the entire potato when we plant them in planters.

How many potatoes to plant in planter

How many potatoes to plant in planter
How many potatoes to plant in a planter depends on how wide the planter is.

Also note if it’s much wider at the top and then narrower toward the bottom and middle.

Use your judgement — give them enough space.

For reference, we plant two potatoes in a 5 gallon bucket which just under 12″ in diameter (30.48 cm).

In our much-larger planters, we plant at least three or four.

Examples:

12″ in diameter = 2 potatoes

14 – 18″ wide = 3 potatoes

20″ wide = 4 potatoes

Filling potato planter with soil

After you have set your potatoes in the soil, you will need to cover them with a minimum of 5 – 6″ of soil.

It’s important to leave room to add more soil as the plants grow.

The reason for this is the potato plants grow taller, you will cover them with additional soil.

This is called hilling.

How much to water potatoes in pots

You want to keep them moist but not wet.

It’s important to not let the potatoes rot from too much water.

However, potatoes growing in pots and planters will be retain heat and be hotter than if you planted them in a garden bed or in the ground.

We sometimes use a basic moisture meter to ensure we aren’t over-watering or after heavy rains.

You can use a simple finger method as well.

Every few days, stick your finger about 2″ in the soil to see if it’s moist.

Unlike when we grow potatoes in 5 gallon buckets, our planters are larger — several feet tall — and we don’t see the water coming out the bottom.

If you use smaller planters, you should be able to tell if water comes out the bottom.

Sunlight

Be sure position your planters so they receive 6 – 8 hours of sun per day.

If you already have large, heavy planters on your property, plant potatoes in the ones that will be in the sun 6 – 8 hours.

How to grow potatoes in pots

potato planters

Once you have your potatoes planted, and you see the potato plants coming out of the soil, be sure to leave them alone.

Do not help them break through the soil.

It’s important they do this on their own. This makes them stronger.

Leave room at the top of the planter

Remember, when you are planting potatoes in planters, don’t fill the soil all the way to the top.

You will need room to add more soil as the potato plants grow.

As stated above, as the potato plants grow taller, you will add dirt to “hill” them.

By doing this, you will be able to grow more potatoes.

Hilling potatoes in planters

When your potato plants are about 6 – 7 inches tall, (approximately 16 cm) you will want to add more soil to the planter.

Being careful not to break any of the stems, add more soil and compost, covering some of the leaves and stems.

Cover approximately one third of the plants.

As your potato plants get taller, repeat this process until the soil reaches the top of the planter.

You want to leave enough room so you can water without loosing dirt.

Harvesting potatoes in planters

How do you know when your potatoes are ready to harvest?

Potatoes flowering

You will know your potatoes are read to harvest from your planters and containers when the plants flower.

The potatoes are ready but will continue to grow larger if you leave them after the potato plants flower.

Potato plants yellow and brown leaves

When growing potatoes in a pot, it’s best to wait until the tubers mature fully before harvesting them.

When the leaves turn yellow and brown, and the plants begin to wilt and droop, the potatoes are finished growing.

This is the ideal time to harvest the potatoes.

Harvesting potatoes

It’s like digging for buried treasure!

If you have children or grandchildren, they will enjoy this process.

It’s fun for adults too!

Simply use your hands to gently pick the potatoes. You don’t need special tools.

Curing homegrown potatoes

We eat our potatoes within a week or so, but if you plan to store the potatoes long term, it’s best to cure them first.

To cure potatoes, set them on newspaper in a dark, well-ventilated area for two weeks.

The temperature should be between 45 – 60 degrees in an area with high humidity.

After this, you can store your potatoes for 4 – 6 months.

Because we are growing potatoes in planters — we get about 10 – 12 per pot — we are excited to eat them right away.

Therefore, we do not cure them.

Growing potatoes in planters

Growing potatoes in pots
Growing potatoes in pots

It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to grow your own food.

Growing potatoes in pots and planters is an easy way to do this without needing garden space.

Advantages to growing potatoes in pots

Less space

You don’t need a lot of space, making it ideal for balconies, decks, entryways.

Less insects

You will have less chance for insects by planting them in planters than if you planted potatoes in the ground.

Less pests

In addition, you won’t have to worry about rodents and other animals getting into your potatoes.

Less weeds

You will likely have less weeds in a planter than in a garden or garden bed.

Easy to harvest the potatoes

You will be sure to harvest all the potatoes and won’t have to bend down as far if you planted them in the ground.

Free up garden space

Growing potatoes in planters means you can plant other vegetables, herbs, flowers, etc. in your garden.

Fun to grow with kids

Kids will love planting potatoes, watering them, watching as they grow taller, and finally, harvesting them!

What are the best potatoes for planting in planters?

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Grow potatoes in planters
Potatoes are cool season vegetables.

There are hundreds of varieties of potatoes.

They can tolerate a mild frost in early spring.

You can be successful growing most any sprouting potato when you plant during the right season… spring in most areas.

If you are interested in finding out which potatoes will grow best in planters in your area, it’s important to consider the season in which you will be planting them.

This will take more time and effort because you likely won’t be using grocery store potatoes.

You should consider buying seed potatoes from a nursery who can instruct you on what will be best for your season and climate.

This is because it helps to know if the potatoes are early season, medium season, or late season.

They are categorized by when to plant them and how long they take to mature.

Early season potatoes

Mature within 75 – 90 days

Yukon gold is one example, and you can easily find them in the supermarket.

Mid-season potatoes

These potatoes mature between 95 – 110 days. You can plant these toward the middle of your summer.

In the United States, this is considered to be the end of July.

Late season potatoes

You should plant late season potatoes in the late summer into autumn.

These potato varieties mature in 120 – 135 days.

Knowing what potatoes to plant will help you be successful growing potatoes in planters.

How to grow potatoes in a pot

Planter potatoes are fun and easy to grow.

They are low maintenance.

Once you have the planter, potatoes, and soil, you are ready to start.

Large planters and pots make great potato growing containers. They don’t take up a lot of space, and you will find it easy to grow your own food.

Planters surround patios, balconies, decks, entryways, and gardens. People think of them for flowers, native plants, tomato plants, and herbs.

However, we love planting potatoes in pots because they are low maintenance, grow quickly and require little upkeep.

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