How to Grow Potatoes – A Beginner’s Guide

potatoes plant growing in garden
Potatoes, which are known botanically as Solanum tuberosum, are a type of vegetable that can easily be grown at home. Continue reading to learn the basics of growing potatoes as well as common mistakes to avoid along the way.

Best Time to Plant Potatoes

This will depend largely on your local climate, but as a rule of thumb, begin to plant the potato seeds in early spring when soil has warmed up. This is the best time to ensure that the seedlings survive the weather.

To check when potatoes are most likely to thrive in your area, see the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. If you live outside the US, do a quick search for ‘plant hardiness zone + [city]’.

How to Plant Potatoes the Right Way

There are a number of things to consider that will help you avoid some of the common mistakes of growing potatoes in your home garden.

Often overlooked, your soil can have a huge impact on how well your potatoes grow. Generally, your soil should be well-drained and fertile. Soil PH levels should be around 5.0 to 6.0.

10-20 feet apart in rows 12-20 feet apart, depending on the rootstock. 12-15″ apart in rows 2-3 feet apart. The seeds should be sowed at a depth of about 8-12″. For each plant, be sure to sow at least a few seeds to ensure that at least one of them will germinate.

Begin thinning your potato seedlings 12-15″ apart when seed potatoes are planted.

How Much Sunlight is Needed to Grow Potatoes

The amount of sunlight is another key to a successful harvest. Too much sunlight will dry out your potatoes. Not enough sunlight will stunt your its growth or even kill it.

Ideally, your potatoes should be getting full sun, which means as much sunlight as you can possibly give it, or at least 6 hours or more.

How Much to Water Potatoes

As you’ve figured by now, a lot can have an impact on how well your potatoes do, and the amount of water is no different.

Ideally, the soil should be damp to touch; not soggy or bone dry. If the leaves on your potatoes begin to change colors or start to look droopy, you need to adjust how much water you’re giving it.

Unfortunately, if you give it too much or too little water, you can kill it, so it’s best to just keep an eye on it and water as needed.

How Long Does it Take Potatoes to Germinate and Grow?

Now the fun part begins and you get to watch your potatoes grow.

It takes approximately seed potatoes do not need to germinate to germinate, and a total of 70-120 days, depending on variety from seed to harvest.

When to Harvest Potatoes

The best time to harvest your potatoes is when foliage begins to die back and tubers are full-sized.

Potatoes can grow up to about 1-3″ diameter tubers, depending on variety.

What Can Potatoes Be Used For?

Food Use: great for boiling, baking, mashing, and frying.

Flavor Profile: varies by variety, from earthy to sweet and waxy to starchy.

Can Potatoes Grow in Pots and Containers?

Yes, you can plant up to 4 seed potatoes per 18-24″ container. This can help control weeds and keep your plant from growing out of control.

It also gives you the flexibility to move your potatoes around if you need to adjust sunlight or bring it indoors to avoid harsh weather conditions.

Are Potatoes Safe for Bees?

Yes, potatoes are safe for bees.

According to, bees pollinate human food crops that make up about 90% of the world’s nutrition.

Given their importance in our ecosystem and food supply, I feel it is important to note that growing potatoes is bee-friendly.

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