How to Grow Potatoes from Seed to Harvest
You want to grow your own potatoes? Great! Then this article is perfect for you.
I will not only show you how to grow your potatoes step-by-step from seed to harvest, I will also show you some secret tips on how to make your growing experience as enjoyable as possible.
In fact, you can be sure that you will be able to harvest decent potato yields if you follow the steps in this article. Without further ado, let’s get started!
Table of Contents
Potato Plant Profile
|Size (Height, Spread)||2 to 3 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide.|
|Climate||Potato plants grow best in moderate climatic zones with optimal temperatures between 75 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.|
|Sun Exposure||Potatoes like the sun but also grow well in half-shady environments.|
|Soil Requirements||Potatoes grow well in slightly acidic soil with an optimal pH between 5.8 and 6.5.|
|Country of Origin||Peru.|
|Growing Difficulty||Easy. Even beginners can get decent results.|
|Perennial?||Potatoes are grown as annuals.|
|When should you start to grow?||In spring between April and May.|
|Expected Yield & Harvest||2 to 5 pounds per potato plant.|
|Time from Seed to Harvest||10 to 12 weeks to grow potatoes from seed to harvest.|
|Pests & Diseases||Slugs, Eelworm, Wireworm, Blackleg, Blight, Bacterial Soft Rot, Common Scab.|
|Use||Potatoes can be used for salads, baked potatoes, hotdish and many other things.|
What Varieties & Types of Potatoes can you grow?
If you want to grow your own potatoes, you first have to decide which potato variety you actually want to grow.
While there are numerous different potato varieties out there, I listed some of the most popular potato varieties for growing purposes in the following:
- Red Gold potatoes
- Daisy Gold potatoes
- Yukon Gold potatoes
- Magic Molly potatoes
- Red Pontiac potatoes
- Kennebec potatoes
- Purple Majesty potatoes
- Princess Laratte potatoes
- Masquerade potatoes
While I like to grow the Kennebec potato since it delivers decent yields and can also be used for a variety of different dishes, you should try out many different potato varieties by yourself.
In fact, I would recommend that you try growing different potato varieties in order to figure out your favorite potato type for yourself.
Hence, if you have never grown potatoes before, I would suggest you just get some different potato varieties from the store and you are good to go.
In fact, it will also be much more interesting to use many different potato varieties instead of just a single one and you will be surprised of how different those different potato varieties will look and taste.
When should you start to grow Potatoes?
Depending on where you live, the starting date for your potato growing project can vary quite a lot.
If you live in a rather moderate climate and the temperature will no longer drop below the freezing mark in mid of Mai, you should start in mid of April.
In fact, if suggest you start growing your potatoes around one month before you will actually be able to transplant your potatoes outside.
Thus depending on the region you live in, you can calculate by yourself when this will be for you and can adjust your growing schedule according to it.
How long does it take to grow Potatoes from Seed to Harvest?
While some sources on the internet claim that it will only take around 10 weeks to grow potatoes from seed to harvest, this is quite ambitious in my opinion.
In fact, from my experience, I would estimate that it will take at least 3 months to grow your potatoes big enough so that they are actually suitable to use them in the kitchen.
Hence, don’t get discouraged if it takes a little bit longer than 10 weeks. Just see the positive.
If your growing project takes longer, you can also enjoy your growth experience over a longer period of time.
In fact, I personally love to see my plants grow more than I actually love to harvest the crops.
Thus, gardening is all about loving the process, not what you can finally get out of it. To say it more poetic: The way is the goal 😉.
What is the best Climate to grow Potatoes?
Potatoes generally grow well in moderate climatic zones. Thus, if you live in the US or in Western Europe, you should be fine in most regions.
Sure, some climates are better to grow potatoes than others.
However, potatoes are usually quite tolerant regarding the climate they grow in and therefore, you should not worry about the climate in your region too much.
If you don’t live in the middle of the desert or in the Arctic, chances are that you will be just fine and ready to grow potatoes.
What Temperatures do Potatoes like?
While potatoes prefer temperatures between 75 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit to grow in an optimal manner, they still grow outside this temperature range.
In fact, if you start early enough in the year, your potato plants will have plenty of time to grow and to develop in a decent manner, even though the outside conditions may not be perfect in your region.
What do you need to grow Potatoes?
Now that you know that the outside conditions in your region are suitable to grow potatoes, it is time to figure out what equipment you need for your potato growing project.
While you don’t need too many things to grow potatoes,
I still give you a list of what I recommend you to get below. Please note that you may already have many of those things at home and may not have to buy everything new.
- Flower pots to grow your potato seedlings
- Potatoes (you can just get your favorite varieties from your local grocery store)
- Fertilizer (I recommend natural fertilizer; alternatively, you can also make your own fertilizer for which I give you the instructions below)
- Sticks and cord to stabilize your potato plants
- Potting soil
- Slug fence
- Watering can
- Garden shovel
- Patience and interest for gardening 😉
What Yield can you expect when you grow Potatoes?
The yields of potato plants can be pretty decent. In fact, I would say that you can expect to yield around 3 pounds of potatoes per plant on average.
However, note that this also greatly depends on how well you follow the steps in this article and also on your overall outside conditions as well as on your level of experience in growing potatoes.
While you might just produce yields of about 2 pounds per plant as a beginner, experts may be able to produce up to 5 pounds.
Consequently, don’t be disappointed if your yield will be rather limited at the beginning.
Over the next years, you will become much better and your yields will likely grow exponentially with your level of experience.
What Plants should you grow with Potatoes?
If you want to get more information on what to plant with potatoes, make sure to check out my article where I show you the best and worst potato companion plants.
Why should you grow your own Potatoes?
There are actually many different reasons why it can make sense to grow your own potatoes.
First, you don’t have to buy your potatoes in your grocery store.
While those potatoes may be rather cheap, they are often contaminated with harmful substances from pesticides and are simply not too good for your health.
Second, it can simply be quite interesting to grow your own potatoes.
In fact, I am really fascinated about growing my own vegetables and fruits since I love to see progress and gardening is a great way to see your plants grow out of a small seed to big plants with plenty of crops.
Thus, the process of growing your potatoes is quite interesting and fascinating and if you have never grown your own potatoes before, I definitely recommend you to go for it.
Third, growing your own potatoes can also greatly reduce your overall stress level.
In fact, in our current state of the world, many people work in demanding jobs for quite long hours and also have to take care of their kids.
All this can lead to significant stress and in order to mitigate this stress, growing potatoes can be a great way to do so.
In fact, if you come home from work, it can be quite nice just to sit in your garden and to have a look at your potato plants and at the progress they made over time.
For me, growing plants is a quite peaceful experience that enables me to disconnect from the stressful outside world and to focus on myself without getting distracted.
Growing Potatoes: Step-by-Step
1. Select a Site for your Potato Plants
I hope that I convinced you that growing your own potatoes is indeed a good idea. If you come to this conclusion, it is now time to get a little bit more concrete.
In fact, the first thing you should do for your potato growing project is to figure out the perfect site for your potato plants.
Do Potatoes like Sun?
First of all, you should ask yourself whether potatoes like the sun. And indeed, they do. Like many other plants, potatoes grow in an optimal manner as long as they get sufficient sun.
However, this doesn’t mean that your potato plants have to get sun all day long. Just a few hours of sunlight each day are enough.
Thus, you should figure out a sunny or at least partially sunny spot in your garden or on your balcony in order to grow your potatoes in an optimal manner.
What are the Soil Requirements of Potatoes?
Potatoes are usually quite tolerant towards the overall soil conditions. In fact, as long as you use conventional potting soil from your local garden center and mix it with the soil in your garden, you will be just fine.
Sure, you can also add some additional fertilizer to the soil, yet this will not be necessary most of the time as long as you give your potato plants enough space.
How much Space do Potatoes need?
When we talk about enough space, this means really a lot. In fact, since potatoes grow underground, they need plenty of space to develop in a healthy manner.
In fact, if you grow your potatoes, you should estimate each plant to use around 6 square feet of space at the minimum.
However, as with many other plants, the more space you give your potatoes, the better they will develop.
Hence, if you have a big garden and are not too restricted regarding the space you have, you may also want to give each potato plant up to 10 square feet of space in order to optimize the growth behavior and also the overall yields of your potato plants.
Should you plant Potatoes in a Pot or in the Garden?
Since potatoes need plenty of space, most of the pots would simply be too small to grow potatoes. Hence, I greatly advise you to grow your potatoes in your garden.
If you don’t have a garden and urgently want to grow potatoes on your balcony, at least make sure that you get a really big pot to grow your potatoes in.
However, still don’t expect to get the same results since due to space restrictions, chances are that your potato plants will simply not develop in an optimal manner, at least compared to the results that are possible by growing potatoes in the garden.
2. Plant Potato Seeds
Now that you have hopefully figured out where you want to grow your potatoes, it is no time to get into the actual seeding process.
Should you buy Potato Seeds or Seedlings?
The first thing you have to decide in this step is whether you want to get potato seedlings from your local garden center or if you want to grow your potatoes from seed instead.
In my opinion, getting potato seedlings from the store is simply not worth it at all since it is rather simple to grow potato seedlings from scratch.
Moreover, it is also much more interesting to me to see the whole growing process instead of just starting in the middle of it.
Hence, in order to get the full growing experience, I highly recommend you to grow your own potato seedlings instead of relying on seedlings from your garden center.
Where do I get my Potato Seeds from?
This is fairly simple. And potato seeds is a rather funny term in this regard since potato seeds are in fact just potatoes. For growing potatoes, you just put whole potatoes into the soil and you are good to go.
Hence, the only thing you have to do to get potato seeds is to go to your local grocery store, get your favorite potato varieties and you are good to go.
Of course, for the next years, you can just use part of the yield from your potato growing project to grow new plants.
How to plant Potato Seeds
Now that you got your potatoes from your local store, you will have to know how exactly you should plant your potatoes.
This is fairly simple. You just use some bigger pots and fill them with potting soil.
Make sure that you leave a few inches of space in the vertical. After filling your pots, you can just place your potatoes in those pots.
Make sure that each potato has at least 7 inches of space next to each other so that the potato seedlings will have enough space to each side to develop in a healthy manner.
Depending on the size of your pots, this can mean that you will only be able to grow one potato seedling per pot.
After you placed your potatoes on the soil in the pot, it is now time to cover them with an additional layer of soil of a few inches in height.
Note that it doesn’t matter whether it is one inch more or less, you make sure that your potatoes are covered properly with soil and you are good to go.
Once you covered your potatoes with soil, you just have to water them on a regular basis.
Make sure that you place your pots in a bright and warm spot in your home so that your seedlings will have the optimal conditions to grow properly.
How long does it take to see the first Potato Seedlings?
After just one week, you may be able to see the first results of your efforts. In fact, you may see the first seedlings reaching the soil surface.
However, until all seedlings will reach the surface, it can take one month or even longer.
Hence, don’t get discouraged or stressed if it takes a while until you see any progress.
In fact, gardening is meant to slow your life down for a while and therefore, embrace the fact that it can take a while.
Natural processes require patience and even though our world is quite hectic right now and wants to get results quickly, it may be beneficial for us to go back to the roots and learn patience.
Please also note that not all potatoes will turn into healthy potato seedlings. Some potatoes may also rot in the soil.
Thus, make sure that you plant more potatoes than you actually need as seedlings.
A good ratio between potatoes and required seedlings is 2:1.
This means that for every seedling you want to grow, you should use 2 potato seeds to be sure that you get enough seedlings in the end.
If you produce more seedlings than you need, you can still give them away to your family or friends who will often be quite happy.
How to protect your Potato Seedlings
Since your potato seedlings will grow inside your home for the first weeks, they will not be at great risk to get attacked by snails or other unwanted animals.
Moreover, inside your home, your potatoes will also not be too vulnerable to pests.
Hence, most of the time, on further protection is required inside your home for your seedlings, at least as long as you don’t have a rabbit as pet who likes to enjoy a nice meal 😉.
When should you transplant your Potato Seedlings?
After you have successfully grown your potato seedlings, it is now time to wait a few weeks until your seedlings become bigger and more resistant to pests and other outside influences.
Indeed, there are two main factors that determine when it will actually be the right time to transplant your potatoes outdoors.
First, you should make sure that your potato seedlings have a certain size.
I would suggest you wait until your potatoes have a minimum height of 10 feet until they are ready to be transplanted.
Second, you also have to make sure that the outside temperature is suitable to transplant your seedlings outside.
Suitable means that the outside temperature should no longer drop below the freezing mark, not even in the nighttime.
Only if BOTH criteria are met, it is time to take action and to put your seedlings outside into the real world 😉. In order to do so, you first have to prepare your site where you want to grow your potatoes.
You have to dig some holes into your garden and fill those holes with a mix of potting soil and the soil from your garden.
Also makes sure that the soil is rather loose so that potatoes can develop in an optimal manner.
Regarding the size of each hole, I would advise you to dig holes of about 6 square feet that are around 3 feet deep.
After you prepared your site, you can simply place your potato seedlings into the soil and you are good to go.
What kind of Protection do Potato Seedlings need outdoor?
Compared to the protected environment inside your four walls, your potato seedlings will have to deal with additional dangers outside.
In order to maximize the chances for survival of your potato seedlings, I suggest you use a slug fence so that your seedlings can be protected for the first weeks until they finally get strong enough that slugs and other pests may no longer be too detrimental to them.
3. The Potato Growth Process
Now that you transplanted your potato seedlings outdoors into your garden, the hardest part lies behind you. If you made it to this point: Congrats! 😉
Honestly, I know that it can be quite a lot of work to get there and especially at the beginning of your potato growing career, there may be some difficulties waiting for you.
However, from now on, things are quite simple. Your plants will get stronger and more resistant every day and chances are that they will deliver decent yields as long as they are not hit by adverse weather conditions like hail.
However, even at this stage, there are still some things to do for you.
I give you further advice and also answer some common questions regarding the overall growth process in the following.
Should you prune your Potato Plants?
While it can make sense to prune some plants, this is definitely not the case for growing potatoes.
In fact, if you give your potatoes enough space to grow and to develop in a healthy manner, there is simply no need for pruning at all.
Instead, in my opinion, it is far better to let your potatoes grow in a natural manner.
After all, you should also see this from an evolutionary standpoint.
Potato plants have been on our plant long before the first human entered our world.
In those times, there was simply nobody who could every prune those plants and therefore, it can also be considered as rather questionable to prune potatoes or other plants.
Hence, I am a firm believer in just letting it grow and let nature do its work.
Do you have to pollinate your Potato Plants by Hand?
While pollinating plants by hand can make sense for pumpkins, melons, zucchinis, cucumbers and some others, it doesn’t make sense for potato plants at all.
In fact, potato plants do not need any pollination efforts from your side and you don’t have to take any action in this regard.
How to stake your Potato Plants
Staking your potato plants is fairly simple. You just need bamboo sticks or other robust sticks and place them next to your potato plants.
You just need to anchor those sticks deep inside the ground in order to give them stability.
After you anchored those sticks, you can just tie your potato plants on them with some cord. And here you go.
Your potato plants are stabilized and are protected against wind and other heavy weather conditions.
As your potato plants get bigger, you can make additional ties to further stabilize them.
4. The Potato Harvest
After a few more weeks, we may come closer to the end goal of our growing efforts.
Now we will see if all the hard work pays off.
When should you harvest your Potatoes?
Depending on when you actually started your growing efforts, most potato plants will be suitable to harvest them at the beginning of autumn.
However, this could vary quite a lot, depending on the respective climatic zone you live in and the level of experience you have in growing potatoes.
Since you will not see the crops since they will have developed in the ground, you just have to give it a try and harvest one plant in order to see whether your potatoes are ready or not.
Hence, when autumn has come, just pull one potato plant out of the ground and see what you got.
If the harvest is decent and the potatoes look ripe, you can also harvest all your other potato plants.
If they still look small and green, chances are that your potato plants need a little bit of extra time to develop and in such a case, you should leave your other potato plants in the soil for a few more days or weeks.
How to store your Potatoes?
Once you harvested your potato plants, it is now time to worry about how to store your potatoes.
In fact, if you store your potatoes in the right manner, you can store them for many months without having any problems.
The best place to store potatoes is in a dry, cold and dark spot in your home, for example in your basement.
However, even if you could store potatoes for quite a while, the taste will be best right after the harvest and you should enjoy them as long as they are really delicious.
What should you do with your Potatoes?
There are so many different things you can use your potatoes for. In fact, you can make potato salads, potato wedges, potato casserole, potato soup and so many more dishes.
It all depends on your individual taste, just go for what you love to eat and to cook!
Potato Plant Care Tips
I know it was a long ride until you got to this point but trust me, we are almost finished.
However, before ending this article, I want to give you some further tips on how to optimize your potato growing experience even further.
How often should you irrigate Potatoes?
The first thing I want to get into is how often you should water your potato plants.
In general, potatoes need a lot of water and especially on hot summer days, you may even need to water them multiple times a day.
In fact, don’t worry about watering your potato plants too much.
If you grow them in your garden, excessive water will vanish into the groundwater anyway sooner or later.
Hence, especially if the leaves of your potato plants hang, this can be a pretty good indication that it is time to water your plants. You can also touch the soil and see if it is still wet.
If not, chances are that you should water your potatoes.
At what Time of the Day should you water your Potato Plants?
While some experts claim that watering your potato plants is best in the early morning, others claim that the best time for irrigating your potato plants is in the evening.
Hence, don’t worry too much about it, just water your plants whenever you see the need to do so.
How often should you fertilize your Potato Plants?
Potato plants usually don’t need too much fertilizer at all. In fact, adding too much fertilizer can do much more harm than good to your potato plants and many people just don’t know that.
Hence, if you want to add additional fertilizer, be quite careful in order not to burn the roots of your potato plants.
What kind of Fertilizer should you use for your Potato Plants?
If you decide that it is a good idea to use additional fertilizer, also make sure that you use organic fertilizer instead of chemical fertilizer.
In fact, the use of chemical fertilizer can be quite harmful to our environment and will also cause serious soil pollution.
Instead of using chemical fertilizer, I advise you to use organic fertilizer.
I linked to a product I like very much in the section on what you need to grow potatoes.
However, you don’t even have to use fertilizer from the store. You can just make your own fertilizer.
In fact, making your own fertilizer is fairly simple. You just need to collect some stinging nettles, put them in a bucket full of water and wait a few days.
After a few days, remove the remaining plant material and you will have a liquid full of beneficial nitrogen and other helpful components that you can use as perfectly natural fertilizer.
Should you use Pesticides or Herbicides for Growing Potatoes?
Also regarding the use of pesticides and herbicides in your garden, I have to disappoint you. At least if we are talking about conventional herbicides and pesticides.
In my opinion, it is far better to use natural alternatives instead. In order to get rid of weeds, you can simply remove them by hand.
In order to get rid of pests, you can use the stinging nettle liquid instead of using chemical pesticides. You heard right 😉.
Stinging nettle liquid is not only suitable for fertilizing your plants, it can also be used as natural pesticide since most pests don’t like the taste at all.
You just have to spray some of this liquid on your plants and you are good to go.
Hence, there is simply no need to use chemical pesticides and in order to protect our environment, go for natural substances instead.
If you want to learn more about pest control, you can also check out my article on how to control potato pests and diseases.
What’s left to say?
You finally made it! In fact, if you got to this point, I am really proud of you.
I know it was a long article, but it needed to be that long in order to cover everything you need to know to grow your potatoes in the best possible manner.
If you want to use my article to grow potatoes, make sure that you save the link so that you find it later on.
Moreover, if you liked my article, feel free to share it with your family and friends.
I also wrote many more grower’s guides which you might check out as well.
If you want to learn even more about growing potatoes, also make sure to check out my growing potato FAQ section.
And now it’s your turn. Stop reading and start growing!
About the author
My name is Andreas and I’m really passionate about our environment and also about growing plants. In fact, I have grown several different plants over many years. I love to see my own plants grow and always try new things.
In my blog posts, I want to share my experiences with you so that you can become successful in growing various different plants, even if you are still a beginner right now.