How to Grow Potatoes in Containers

growing potatoes in a container

You don’t need a large garden bed to grow potatoes. You can grow potatoes in containers on a balcony, deck, or patio and get a decent harvest to enjoy in late summer or fall.

The post How to Grow Potatoes in Containers appeared first on Big Blog Of Gardening.

Growing potatoes in containers or pots is easy and fun. Just choose an appropriately-sized container, give it sufficient water and 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day, and you should get a successful crop if you follow these guidelines.

Choose a variety of potatoes appropriate for containers

If you’re new to growing potatoes, you may not be aware that there are dozens of varieties you can grow. Potatoes differ by shape, size, color, texture, harvest time, skin thickness, starch content, and taste. For containers, choose a variety on the small side, as big baking-type potatoes like Russets won’t perform well, given the limited growing space. For any variety, your harvested potatoes may not be as large as those grown in the open garden.

What kind of container can you grow potatoes in?

Potatoes are tubers – they grow below ground and each plant produces multiple tubers. This makes the size of the container very important – it needs enough soil to hold the mature crop. And naturally, the size of the container dictates how many potatoes you can grow in it. For instance, Russett potatoes, typically known as “baking potatoes”, grow 4-6 inches long and 2 inches in diameter; but Fingerling potatoes are 3 inches long and 1 inch wide. Each mature plant of any variety will produce roughly 6 regular size potatoes and a few smaller potatoes, depending on growing conditions. As a rule of thumb, you’ll need about 2.5 gallons (10 liters) of soil for each plant. If you cram in more than that, you’ll just end up with tiny potatoes.

Just about anything that can hold soil can grow potatoes: Sacks, large nursery pots, terra cotta pots, grow bags, 5-gallon buckets, vertical gardening systems, barrels, garbage cans, spackle buckets, large plastic storage containers, or similar containers. If you’re creating your own container, make sure you have at least 3 drainage holes in the bottom. An ideal container for growing potatoes is 2 – 3 feet tall with a 10-15 gallon capacity, at least 15″ deep.

Don’t use garden soil in your pot, only potting soil. This avoids transporting any insects, weed seeds, or soil-borne diseases into your container, and also assures adequate drainage. Add a little peat moss for drainage and to bring down the pH, along with compost for nutrients if none is included in the potting soil (potatoes grow best in soil that’s somewhat on the acidic side).

What are the best potatoes to grow in containers?

There are literally hundreds of varieties of potatoes you can grow in containers, so creating a definitive list is next to impossible. Buy your seed potatoes from a reputable garden center or online source. I’ve had success with seed potatoes from Gurney’s and from my local garden centers. Don’t use potatoes bought from a grocery store, as they’re usually dusted with solutions that inhibit sprouting.

You’ll have the best success if you choose a variety that matures early. A shorter growing time means you’ll tend to avoid blight which will destroy your entire crop. On the other hand, potato varieties that mature in mid-season or late season allow you to enjoy the fruits of your labor longer, as you can start harvesting young potatoes weeks before maturity.

Think efficiently – select varieties with a compact growth habit so the plant doesn’t overwhelm the container. You might also want to consider growing multiple varieties in separate pots that mature at different times so you can have a months-long harvest of fresh potatoes.

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