There’s nothing like the taste of freshly dug vegetables, especially potatoes, one of the most common veggies with a variety of preparations. However, not everyone has the space and conditions to plant them. Or maybe they do?
It turns out you don’t need some vast gardening space to grow vegetables since you can also do that in a container!
So keep reading to find out how to grow potatoes in a container and have a healthy harvest during the year!
Benefits of Growing Potatoes in Containers
When it comes to seeding potatoes in containers, there are certainly more pros than cons to this decision.
One slightly negative aspect of this growing method is that the soil in containers dries out faster, so you should water it more frequently.
That said, the good thing is that you will still reduce water usage because it doesn’t require as much water to keep it moist.
Harvesting and planting potatoes in containers is simple. The other advantages include the following:
- Less time is needed, no back pain, and you don’t have to worry about choosing the best potato companion plants for a healthy and productive garden.
- Easier to check the health of the tubers underground — you don’t have to dig deep in the ground to see whether there are potential issues.
- Containers can be placed anywhere — choose your patio, balcony, or any spot in your yard that receives full sun.
- Avoid soil contamination — all you need to produce a healthy crop in a smaller location is a few bags of rich, black gold or a wheelbarrow full of compost if you have it stored somewhere. You don’t have to worry about soil-born diseases or crop rotation.
- Rarely worry about weeding or problems caused by voles, wireworms, scabs, and beetles.
- Easy harvest — instead of digging and potentially damaging some potatoes with a shovel, you can simply dump out the container and see all your potatoes right there for easy picking. Some pots even come with little doors for harvesting potatoes without yanking the plant or disordering the root system.
Choosing the Right Supplies
To successfully grow potatoes in a container indoors or outdoors, you will first need to get a container and use the right potting mix.
When it comes to containers, they should be 14 inches in diameter and at least 15 inches deep.
Besides garden pots, there are numerous different types of containers to choose from. Just make sure they have good drainage.
While you can purchase ready-made pots or opt to grow potatoes in a bag, any container with drainage holes that blocks light from traveling through it will do, including wooden barrels, garbage bins, burlap sacks, plastic storage tubs, canvas tote bags, and chimney flues.
There are even self-watering containers able to decrease moisture evaporation and consistently supply water to plants, helping eliminate dry soil and over-watering.
The right potting mix is as important as the suitable container, and potatoes need nutrient-rich soil.
While potatoes grow best in fertile, acidic, well-drained soil when grown in the ground, that’s not entirely the case for plants grown in containers.
The best option is a lightweight soil mix that you can make yourself by adding 1/3 peat moss or coconut coir, 1/3 high-quality compost, and 1/3 vermiculite or perlite.
If you’re opting for a plastic container, fast-draining potting soil is a good option, while you can also use organic soils.
Avoid using garden soils since they drain poorly and may contain weed seeds and diseases.
Types of Potatoes You Could Plant in a Container
Typically, the best potatoes for growing in containers are smaller varieties due to their smaller tubers that will have enough space in almost all sizes and types of containers.
However, you can also grow some large varieties of potatoes and harvest new potatoes before the tubers reach full size.
So, if you’re a fan, you can grow sweet potatoes in a container, even if they’re larger varieties, and get some smaller, thinner-skinned potatoes perfect for roasting or baking.
If you decide on a smaller variety, you can choose among numerous fingerling potato types, including French Fingerling, Magic Molly, Pinto Gold, and Russian Banana, coming in a variety of beautiful colors like pink, yellow, red, and purple.
Note that if you want to grow two different varieties together, you must choose them based on their riping time so you can harvest all the tubers simultaneously. For example, if you decide to grow red potatoes in a container, you can mix them with purple ones and get a beautiful-looking crop.
Requirements and Other Tips for Growing Potatoes in Pots
If you already have experience growing veggies in containers, like lettuce or spinach, then you’re probably familiar with a technique behind growing potatoes as well.
These are the requirements you should meet:
If you want to ensure you’ll grow productive plants, it’s essential to take time to prepare your seed potatoes for planting.
If you’re handling large seed potatoes, you can divide them into 2-inch chunks while ensuring each piece comes with one eye at least. Regarding small seed potatoes, you can leave them whole.
If you’ve cut the seed potatoes, let them air dry on a paper towel for about 24–48 hours before planting. This will allow them to develop a protective crust.
In order to grow well, potatoes need lots of light and heat, so you should pick a sunny location and provide your plants with a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight daily. Avoid placing the containers under tree limbs or eaves that could funnel rainwater into them.
However, once the temperature reaches 80˚F, the plants may cease to grow. So if you live in warm weather, provide your potato plants with morning sun and a shaded place during the afternoon.
What month do you plant potatoes? The answer to this question is almost the same as with planting them in the ground — about two weeks before the last frost in your region. Ideally, the temperature outside should be at least 50°F, while no lower than 41°F at night.
If you decide to plant potatoes in a pot during the winter season, you can do it indoors; just ensure that you give them adequate heat and light.
In order to begin your potatoes off right, you should plant the seeds by barely covering them with soil and then bury the stems gradually by pouring additional soil around the potato plant as it grows upward.
Make sure to leave plenty of room between the top of the soil and the top of the pot.
Fertilizer and Moisture
Adding an organic fertilizer is essential for healthy plant development. You need to mix the fertilizer into the potting soil and once your plant is a few inches tall, fertilize it every two weeks.
The first time you add the fertilizer, it should be a slow-release one, after which you can use a liquid fertilizer every few weeks.
Since this way of growing potatoes requires much more water and nutrients because they won’t get it from the ground, it’s important to add fertilizer more than once. However, don’t over-fertilize because that can make your potatoes burn.
Regarding water, whenever the top 1–2 inches of soil feels dry, it’s the right time for watering.
When to Harvest Potatoes in Containers
You can begin harvesting your potatoes once they start to flower and perform your final harvest when they turn yellow.
With traditional pots, you will need to push your fingers carefully into the soil, and once you feel fully developed tubers, twist and pull them out gently.
One of the plus sides of planting potatoes in pots designed for them is the easier way of harvesting them. Instead of digging up the entire plant, you can just open the door and pull tubers out without disturbing the surrounding soil.
After you notice the plant turns yellow, stop watering it and wait for a week. To harvest these matured potatoes, just dump the container and look through the soil for the tubers.
Gently clean the potatoes, but only wash them if you want to use them immediately. Keep those potatoes stored for later in paper bags or baskets in a chilly, moist, dark environment.
Note that potatoes with green skins may appear and should be discarded since they contain a mildly toxic chemical. This occurs due to the potatoes being exposed to direct sunlight while growing.
For this reason, you should move the containers from the sun into the shade in the late afternoon.
While you should cover the potatoes that have emerged above the soil level, don’t bury the top sets of leaves, as they need sunlight to photosynthesize.
According to some stats, potatoes are the world’s most popular veggies. Thanks to the ability to grow potatoes in containers, everyone can now enjoy these fresh, homegrown vegetables anytime they want, no matter how limited space they’re dealing with.
Hopefully, these tips and tricks will help you grow your own potatoes and enjoy pretty-looking and surely tastier veggies.
How long does it take to grow potatoes in a container?
The amount of time needed for potatoes to be ready for harvesting depends on the type of potatoes you choose to grow. While those that mature early are ready in 70–90 days, other types take 120 days until harvest.
How many potatoes can I plant in a container?
The number of seed potatoes you could plant in a container depends on the size of the chosen container. It’s recommended to plant one seed potato for every 3 gallons of a container.
Should I water potatoes every day?
Potatoes grown in containers need more water than those in the ground. However, while it’s essential to keep your soil moist, it shouldn’t be wet. Before determining when to water them, check the containers at least once a day by sticking your finger an inch into the soil.
If you live in a hot or windy area, you may need to water it a few times a day.
Do potatoes need full sun?
One of the first things you hear when wondering how to grow potatoes in a container is that they need lots of light and heat.
However, while they need at least six hours of sun daily, if the temperature reaches 80˚F, you should put your potato plant in the morning sun but move it to a shaded place in the afternoon.