How to Plant a Sprouted Potato In 6 Steps | From Germination to Harvest

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Have you ever encountered a forgotten bag of potatoes that sprouted in your pantry? Or maybe you have tons of extra potatoes you don’t need? Well – there’s good news. You can still use those sprouted (or un-sprouted) potatoes by planting them in your veggie garden to grow new potato plants! This process is a great way to reduce waste. Planting sprouted potatoes also turns your kitchen mishap into a rewarding gardening activity.

Colorful potato sprouts emerging from backyard garden potatoes.

How to Easily Plant Sprouted Potatoes

Here’s a detailed look at our tried-and-true potato-growing process that almost always works.

Step 1. Choose the Highest Quality Potato Sprouts

Sprouting potatoes ready for planting inside the backyard garden.

Look for sprouts that are healthy and strong. Avoid potatoes that appear shriveled or dry.

Before planting – you have a decision! You can grow a whole potato or cut it into chunks. Your choice depends on the size of the potato and the number of sprouts. If you decide to cut your potatoes, ensure each piece has at least one or two sprouts – or eyes.

Step 2. Chitting Your Potatoes

How to chit potatoes

Chitting is pre-sprouting your potatoes before planting. Chitting helps enhance the growth of the sprouts and can lead to a better yield. To chit your potatoes, place your seed potatoes in a container or tray in a cool, well-lit area and allow them to chit for several weeks. Store-bought potatoes can also work. But ensure they are organic and are free of any synthetic growth inhibitors!

When the sprouts reach about a half-inch to an inch in length, your potatoes are ready for planting.

Step 3. Prepare Your Potato Transplant Site

Sprouted potatoes planted in the garden and awaiting a few inches of additional soil.

While waiting for your potatoes to sprout – we should find and prepare a suitable transplant site. Prepare your potato growing site by incorporating organic material like compost or aged manure. Adding organic material will improve the soil’s nutrient content and its ability to retain moisture. Organic amendments can also simultaneously promote drainage. A lush potting mix can also work well when planting sprouted potatoes in containers.

To give your potatoes the best chance, you should aim for well-drained, slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5. Good drainage is necessary to prevent rot and promote healthy growth.

If your soil is too compact or clay-like, consider amending it with compost, sand, or peat moss to improve its structure and create a more suitable environment for your potatoes. This structural enhancement will ensure it remains loose and workable, allowing young spud roots to develop and expand throughout the growing season.

Finding the right soil balance is vital to providing your sprouted potatoes with the best possible conditions for growth and, ultimately, a bountiful harvest. Get your soil, drainage, pH, and organic materials right, and your potato plants will reward you with delicious, homegrown tubers.

Those with poor garden soil fear not! Potatoes are robust plants and can grow in a variety of soil types. However, improving your soil’s quality by incorporating organic matter will significantly increase your chances of a more abundant harvest.

Step 4. Planting the Potato Sprouts

How To Prepare Potatoes For Planting - Chitting Tutorial

It’s time to sow our potatoes! Prepare your garden bed by mounding soil into rows. Mounding is essential because it allows for better drainage, which potatoes require to avoid rot.

You can plant the whole potato. But remember, if your potato is large, you can cut it into smaller pieces. When cutting, ensure each potato piece has an eye, as this is where the sprouts emerge. Another benefit of cutting it into chunks is to prevent overcrowding. It allows each sprouted potato fragment enough space to grow and prevents competition among plants for water and nutrients in the soil.

Step 5. Hilling Your Potatoes

About 15 days after planting, you should see your potato sprouts emerging and growing above the soil. As they grow, it’s essential to “hill” or mound more soil around the base of the plants, ensuring you don’t compact the soil too tightly.

This hilling process supports the growing plants and ensures that developing potatoes remain covered. Keeping them underground prevents them from turning green, which can make them toxic, and encourages the development of a more abundant potato yield.

Step 6. Harvesting Your Potatoes

fresh potato harvest pile from the garden ready to cook and mash

The potato harvest begins when the potato plants start to die back and turn yellow. Dying potato foliage is arguably the surest sign that your potatoes are ready to harvest.

The first step in harvesting potatoes is to cut back the foliage and let the potatoes cure in the ground for a few days. This potato-curing process allows the skin to harden. It also makes the potatoes less susceptible to bruising or damage during the harvest.

After the potatoes have cured, dig them up. Be gentle during this process to avoid damaging the potatoes. Damaged potatoes do not store well and are more prone to rot.

Brush the potatoes off to remove any excess dirt. Store the potatoes in a cool, dark, and well-ventilated area to keep them fresh for as long as possible.

Related – How to Propagate Plant Cuttings In Potatoes, Honey, and Cinnamon!

Why Potatoes Sprout

Sprouted potatoes begin developing shoots or eyes. This potato eye sprouting happens when the potato gets light and warmth for an extended period. Even though they might look strange and unappetizing, planting sprouted potatoes can be a great way to repurpose them and produce more food.

Potatoes sprouting means that the potato is eager to start its growth process. The sprouts themselves are the stems of the new plants, and by planting them, you’re giving the potato a chance to grow into a healthy, productive plant. There’s a certain satisfaction in watching something you might have otherwise discarded grow into a flourishing crop.

Seed Potatoes vs. Store-Bought Potatoes

Make Your Own Seed Potatoes from Grocery Store Potatoes

There’s a significant difference between seed potatoes and store-bought potatoes. Store-bought potato producers often deploy a sprout inhibitor on their potato crop to prevent sprouting, which can limit their ability to grow when planted. Seed potatoes, on the other hand, are meant to sprout and produce new plants. They’re often also bred for disease and pest resistance, making them a better choice for home growers. If you plant potatoes, seed potatoes are usually the better option.

When to Plant Sprouted Potatoes

Planting sprouted potatoes is best done in early spring, as this allows your potatoes to grow and mature during the warmer months. Before planting, keep an eye on the temperature and make sure that the soil has warmed sufficiently to at least forty-five degrees Fahrenheit  – or seven degrees Celsius. This temperature range is vital because potatoes thrive in warmer soil, and cold soil can hinder their growth.

Timing is crucial, and you should aim to plant sprouted potatoes around the last frost date in your area. To determine the approximate final frost date, refer to a gardening calendar or consult your local weather station for more accurate information. The last frost date will help you ensure that your sprouted potatoes are safe from any potential frost, which can damage or kill the plants.

Here are a few pointers for planning when to plant your sprouted potatoes.

  • Early spring – This is the ideal time to plant sprouted potatoes, as the soil starts to warm and the risk of frost decreases.
  • Temperature – Keep an eye on the soil temperature, aiming for at least 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees Celsius) to ensure your potatoes have the best-growing conditions.
  • Hardiness zones – Use your area’s final frost date as a reference point for when to plant your sprouted potatoes. Overzealous potato gardeners must avoid planting too early or too late in the season.

Follow these guidelines and plant your sprouted potatoes at the right time. It helps your odds of a successful and profitable harvest.

Related – Indeterminate Potatoes vs. Determinate Potatoes – Growing Tips, Facts, and More!

Caring for Your Sprouted Potato Plants

Mature and delicious Estima potatoes harvested from a backyard growing container.

Planting sprouted potatoes can lead to a tremendous and yummy harvest. Here’s an overview of how to care for your growing potato plants.

Sunlight

First, make sure your sprouted potatoes receive plenty of sun. Potatoes thrive best in full sun to part shade. Exposing the plants to at least six to eight hours of sunlight daily is essential for healthy growth.

Watering

Water plays a crucial role in potato care. Consistent and moderate watering is necessary to prevent the soil from drying out. Your potato plants will need about one to two inches of water per week, either from rainfall or supplementary watering. Check the soil every few days, and give the plants a drink if the soil feels dry.

Fertilizer

We always fertilize our potato mounds, grow bags, or raised garden beds with a slow-release fertilizer approximately one to four weeks before planting. You can also use natural compost and aged manure, as they work well.

Potatoes require essential nutrients for growth, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. A balanced fertilizer works to provide these nutrients, but be cautious not to use too much nitrogen-rich fertilizer, as it may result in lush foliage with fewer tubers.

Climate

Potatoes thrive in cooler temperatures, ideally between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s wise to plant your sprouted potatoes shortly after the last expected frost, ensuring they have the chillier part of the season to grow and mature before temperatures rise too high.

Lastly, show your potato plants some tender loving care by regularly monitoring their health and adjusting as needed. Watch for pests, diseases, and any signs of nutrient deficiencies.

Our Favorite Cold-Tolerant Potato Cultivars

A few potato varieties known to be cold-tolerant or well-suited for cooler climates include the following.

1. Norland (Red Norland) Potatoes

An early-season potato that’s resistant to some common potato diseases and is well-suited for cooler climates.

  • Time to mature: 70 to 90 days
  • USDA hardiness zone: 3 to 11
  • Potato weight: 5 to 8 ounces
  • Plant height: Two to three feet

2. Kennebec Potatoes

A late-season potato that’s resistant to blight and is known for its adaptability to various climate conditions, including cooler ones.

  • Time to mature: 85 to 100 days
  • USDA hardiness zone: 3 through 10
  • Potato weight: Around one-third or a pound
  • Plant height: One and a half to two feet

3. Yukon Gold Potatoes

An early to mid-season potato that’s cold-hardy and known for its delicious taste and golden flesh.

  • Time to mature: 85 to 95 days
  • USDA hardiness zone: 3 through 9
  • Potato weight: Around one-third of a pound
  • Plant height: Two to three feet

4. Caribe Potatoes

🥔 More Potato Planting: Purple Caribe Potatoes in Buckets

An early-season potato that’s violet-skinned and known to perform well in cooler temperatures.

  • Time to mature: 80 to 125 days
  • USDA hardiness zone: 3 through 9
  • Potato weight: Around one-third of a pound
  • Plant height: Around two and a half feet

5. Irish Cobbler Potatoes

Yummy and delicious Irish Cobbler potatoes ready for cooking and mashing.

An early-season variety that’s long been a favorite in colder regions for its adaptability.

  • Time to mature: 75 to 85 days
  • USDA hardiness zone: 4 through 9
  • Potato weight: Around one-third of a pound
  • Plant height: Up to two feet

Related – Grow Garden Potatoes In A Bucket – The Ultimate Guide!

6. Green Mountain Potatoes

gloved hand harvesting three white potatoes lush potato leaves

Green Mountain is a late-season variety and a favorite in New England due to its cold tolerance.

In colder climates, you could consider using a greenhouse or a thick layer of mulch. Thick wood chips or bark helps protect the soil and insulate the plants from overnight frost. However, their growth might be slower than planting in the warmer months.

  • Time to mature: 100 to 125 days
  • USDA hardiness zone: 4 through 9
  • Potato weight: Around one-third of a pound
  • Plant height: From a few inches to a few feet

Related – Farm vs. Ranch vs. Homestead Comparison – Size, Products, Lodging, Food, and Pasture!

How to Plant a Sprouted Potato – FAQs

How to Plant Potatoes! 🥔🌿 // Garden Answer

We have tons of experience eating (and sprouting) potatoes! We also know many of our gardening friends have questions about growing them. Here’s what you need to know.

Can Sprouted Potatoes Grow In Winter?

You can grow sprouted potatoes in winter – but only in milder climates like parts of the U.S. Pacific Northwest or southern regions. However, outdoor cultivation isn’t practical in places with freezing temperatures or snow.

Potatoes are frost-sensitive. Their green parts can get damaged. If a frost is forecasted, protect them by mounding soil or using a protective cover. The cold slows potato growth, so consider indoor or greenhouse cultivation if you live in a harsh winter climate. Choose potato varieties tailored for colder climates, and remember, the shorter winter days can affect their growth.

Should Potatoes Be Planted With the Sprout Up or Down?

Always plant potatoes with the sprout up. The sprouts are the early growth of the potato plant and need to emerge above the soil to access sunlight for photosynthesis.

How Deep Should Potatoes Be Planted?

Potatoes should generally be planted about six to eight inches deep in the soil, with some variation depending on the variety and the size of the sprouted potato. This depth provides a good balance between the growing plant’s stability and the ability for the sprouts to emerge from the soil.

How Can I Grow Potatoes Faster by Sprouting Eyes?

Growing potatoes faster involves chitting or pre-sprouting the eyes before planting. This process can give you a head start on the growing season, leading to an earlier and potentially heftier harvest. Here’s how you can accelerate potato growth by sprouting eyes.

1. Select Seed Potatoes
Choose mature, disease-free potatoes. Typically, smaller potatoes can get planted whole, while larger potatoes can be cut into pieces, ensuring each piece has at least one or two eyes.

2. Setting Up for Chitting
Place the seed potatoes in a single layer, with the eyes facing up, in a tray or egg carton.

Keep the potatoes in a cool, light place (but not in direct sunlight). A temperature around 50 degrees Fahrenheit – or 10 degrees Celsius is ideal. This temperature range encourages robust green sprouts rather than long, weak, white ones.

3. Nurture Potatoes for a Month
Allow the potatoes to chit for four to six weeks. Once the sprouts are about one-half inch to one inch long, they are ready to be planted.

4. Preparing Your Soil
Prepare the soil by ensuring it’s well-draining. Raised beds or mounded rows work well for potatoes.

5. Digging Trenches
Dig trenches about six inches deep. Place the sprouted potatoes, sprouts facing up, about 12 inches apart. Cover with three inches of soil. As the plants grow, keep mounding soil or straw around them. This constant mounding is to prevent sunlight from contacting the potato tubers. The sunlight turns them green and sometimes toxic!

Do You Have To Cut Sprouted Potatoes Before Planting?

No. You can plant them without cutting them. Some gardeners cut potatoes into pieces, each chunk with at least one sprout. This method allows you to get multiple plants from a single potato and can reduce overcrowding.

Can You Plant Store-Bought Potatoes?

Yes, you can plant store-bought potatoes if they have sprouts or buds. However, it’s important to note that store-bought potatoes are often treated with a sprout inhibitor to prevent them from sprouting while they’re in the store. This sprout inhibition means they might not sprout as readily as seed potatoes. Still, if your store-bought potatoes have sprouts, you can plant them and expect them to grow.

How Far Apart Should I Plant Sprouted Potatoes?

Plant each sprouted potato about 12 to 16 inches apart. This spacing gives each plant plenty of space to grow without competing with its neighbors for nutrients. The rows themselves should sit between two and three feet apart.

Should I Hill Sprouted Potato Plants?

Absolutely! Hilling your sprouted potato plants is a vital step in their care. This process involves piling soil around the base of the plant as it grows. Hilling helps protect the potatoes from the sun and encourages the plant to produce more potatoes. This simple step can increase your potato harvest. Hilling can also help keep your garden neat.

How to plant a sprouted potato in 6 steps from germination to harvest.

Conclusion

Growing your potatoes from sprouted spuds can be a rewarding and environmentally friendly endeavor. You can turn those sprouting potatoes into a bountiful crop for your table.

Both sprouted onions and sweet potatoes can also be grown using similar methods. You can even use an egg carton to help sprouted onions take root before planting them in the ground, just like potatoes.

Patience and attentive care are crucial when growing potatoes or any other crop. By observing your plants closely and providing them with proper nutrients and care, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying the fruits of your labor – or, in this case, your flavorful, homegrown potatoes and other vegetables.

Happy gardening!

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