A Step-by-Step Guide to Growing Delicious Potatoes in Containers

There are several advantages to growing potatoes in containers rather than in the ground. Container gardening saves room in small gardens, makes it easier to manage the plants’ growth, and keeps animals (like voles) that like to eat plants away.

Growing potatoes in pots only has one real downside: you have to be more careful to water them regularly because the soil in pots dries out faster than soil in the ground.

There’s nothing quite like the taste of homegrown potatoes fresh from the garden. But not everyone has the space to devote to planting spuds in the ground. Container growing opens up potato possibilities even for small space gardeners.

With the right techniques you can easily grow prolific potato harvests in pots buckets, grow bags and more. Here is a complete step-by-step guide to successfully growing potatoes in containers.

Choosing the Best Containers for Potatoes

The first step in container potato growing is selecting suitable pots. Consider these factors when picking containers:

  • Size – Use at least a 10 gallon container or larger for best results Dwarf and fingerling varieties need less space than big russets,

  • Depth – Choose containers around 2 to 3 feet deep to accommodate root growth.

  • Drainage – Ensure pots have adequate drainage holes to prevent wet soil.

  • Material – Opt for heavy duty plastic, wood, ceramic or fabric grow bags. Avoid treated materials.

  • Mobility – Pick containers that are easy to move if you need frost protection,

Larger pots minimize watering needs but take up more space. Weigh your space limitations and plant number goals when deciding on container size.

Selecting the Best Potato Varieties for Containers

Potatoes come in a dizzying array of varieties. For containers, choose:

  • Compact types – Best suited to pot constraints. Try fingerlings or dwarf varieties.

  • Fast maturing – Quick harvests, about 60-80 days to maturity.

  • High yield – Varieties bred for prolific tuber production in tight spaces.

  • Disease resistance – Important for container confinement. Seek scab-resistant types.

  • Seed potatoes – Avoid grocery store spuds which may carry disease. Purchase certified disease-free seed potatoes.

Popular container varieties include Yukon Gold, French Fingerling, Ruby, German Butterball and more. Experiment to find your favorites!

When to Plant Potatoes in Containers

Potatoes thrive in cool conditions. Plant container spuds:

  • In spring after the last frost date when soil temperatures warm.

  • In fall at least 8 weeks before your first expected fall frost for a second crop.

  • Successively every 2-3 weeks to stagger harvests from early to late season.

  • Indoors for an early start about 6-8 weeks before your outdoor planting date. Harden off before transplanting outside.

Potatoes are not frost tolerant. Protect containers or move indoors if cold snaps threaten.

How to Plant Potatoes in Containers Step-By-Step

Follow these simple steps for easy container potato planting:

1. Prepare Container and Soil

  • Fill container 2/3 full with rich, loose potting mix blended with compost.

  • Ensure container has drainage holes at the bottom to prevent wet soil.

  • Mix in a balanced organic granular fertilizer to feed plants.

  • Place container in a sunny spot with at least 6 hours of direct light.

2. Cut and Prepare Seed Potatoes

  • Obtain certified disease-free seed potatoes. Do not use potatoes from the grocery store.

  • Cut tubers into chunks with at least 2 eyes or sprouts per piece.

  • Allow cut surfaces to dry out or “cure” for 1-2 days before planting.

3. Plant Seed Potatoes

  • Bury seed potato pieces 3-4 inches deep with eyes/sprouts facing up.

  • Space pieces 8-12 inches apart depending on container size. Do not overcrowd.

  • Cover completely with potting mix. Gently firm down but don’t compact soil.

  • Water thoroughly after planting. Maintain even moisture, never soggy or dry soil.

4. Hill Plants as They Grow

  • As sprouts emerge and reach 6 inches, mound more soil against stems, covering the lower leaves.

  • Continue mounding soil up plants as they grow until container is full.

  • Hilling develops more tubers along the buried stem. It also protects developing potatoes from light which turns them green.

  • Stop hilling when you reach the container rim. Plant foliage will continue growing above soil level.

Caring for Potatoes Growing in Containers

Potatoes are heavy feeders. Provide optimal care with:

  • Even moisture. Water when top inch of soil is dry. Add mulch to retain moisture.

  • Fertilizer. Feed with liquid organic fertilizer every 2-3 weeks. Fish emulsion is ideal.

  • Sunlight. Place container in full sun. Turn periodically for even growth.

  • Warmth. Move container indoors or use insulation wraps if temperature drops below 45°F.

Monitor for pests like potato beetles and aphids. Remove by hand or use organic treatments if severe.

How to Harvest Potatoes from Containers

  • Harvest new potatoes after flowers appear, about 60-70 days from planting.

  • For full maturity, wait until vines yellow and die back, about 90-110 days after planting.

  • Dump container onto tarp to easily gather all potatoes or dig carefully through soil.

  • Cure freshly dug potatoes 1-2 weeks in a dark, dry spot before storing.

  • Brush off loose soil but don’t wash until ready to use.

With proper care, container growing allows even urban gardeners to enjoy an abundant harvest of delicious homegrown potatoes!

When to Plant Potatoes in Containers

Plant potatoes in containers about two weeks before the last frost in your region. It’s possible to plant about a week earlier because soil in pots warms up faster than soil in the ground when it’s in the sun. However, be prepared to cover or bring your potato containers indoors if a late spring frost is predicted.

You can also grow potatoes inside in containers during the winter, as long as you give them enough light and heat.

Hilling Potatoes in Containers

When you grow potatoes in pots, grow bags, or the ground, you have to “hill” them, which means burying the stems gradually by piling more soil around the plant as it grows.

Begin by barely covering the seed potatoes with soil. As the plant grows, heap additional soil around the plant at regular intervals until the container is filled. Burying the stems also prevents the potatoes from being exposed to light, which makes them turn green.

My 2 Tips for a Massive Container Potato Harvest: How to Grow Potatoes ‘Better’ in Containers.


What is the best way to grow potatoes in containers?

Place the container in full sun. Fill the container with about 4 to 6 inches of potting soil that has been blended with compost and fertilizer. Place the prepared seed potato pieces onto the potting mix with the eye buds facing up. The plants will grow fairly large, so space the seeds well.

How many potatoes should I plant in a container?

Plant: Plant one seed potato for each 3 gallons of Smart Pot container. For the #15 container, for example, plant 5 seed potatoes. For the #10 container, plant 3 or 4 seed potatoes. Place the seed potatoes evenly in the container.

Can I grow potatoes from store bought potatoes?

Planting Store-Bought Potatoes Fill a 5-gallon bucket or other large container with adequate drainage holes at the base with potting soil and place in a location that receives full sun. Match the number of potatoes to the size of container you are growing them in. Each potato plant needs about 2.5 gallons to grow into.

Do potatoes grow well in potting soil?

Almost any vegetable can be grown successfully in a container, and potatoes are no exception. Though you may not harvest as many potatoes in a container as from garden soil, given the right growing conditions, a single potted potato can produce a considerable number of tubers.

How do you grow potatoes in containers?

The process for growing potatoes in containers, grow bags, or the ground is a little different than it is for other vegetables. Potatoes are grown using a “hilling” technique in which the stems are gradually buried by heaping additional soil around the plant as it grows upward.

What are the best containers for potatoes?

First early potatoes can be successfully grown in a variety of containers but ideally they need to have a capacity of at least 30 litres. Barrels, bins, water-butts and oil drums all make perfectly large containers with lots of room for the new tubers to grow. Alternatively, any large clay, plastic or wooden container will suffice.

Can you grow potatoes in a garbage can?

It is possible to grow potatoes in any large container, from large pots or nursery containers to big garbage cans. Even trash bags or stacks of tires will do, though you have to be cautious about these because they can get very hot in the sun. Smart Pots are a fantastic option for potatoes as well.

Leave a Comment