Planting Seed Potatoes: A Step-by-Step Guide to Successfully Growing Potatoes

Seed potatoes are tubers that you can use to grow new potatoes that are genetically identical to the parent potato. Seed potatoes are tubers you can use to produce new potatoes that are genetically identical to their parent potatoes. This type of vegetative propagation allows potatoes to grow faster, and is much easier for home gardeners than starting from seeds. After planting, potatoes can grow for 60 to 90 day. Learn how to plant your seed potatoes early in the spring so that you can harvest them mid-summer.

When to Plant Potato Seeds
The best place for potatoes to grow is in the full sun. Plant them in early spring, two to four weeks before the last expected frost in your area. In soils that are too wet or cold, seed potatoes may rot. Depending on the location, you can plant potatoes up to June 15th. Harvest them as late as you can. Plants will tolerate light frosts, but row covers or harvesting before freezing temperatures arrive are the best ways to protect them from freezing.

Work with Potatoes
Plants that root aggressively, such as potatoes, will produce a better crop if they are planted in a light, loose soil with good drainage. Potatoes like slightly acidic soil, with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5. Potatoes are resilient and can adapt to a variety of soil and climate conditions. Rotate where you plant your potatoes in the garden. Soil-borne diseases may linger and affect future crops.

Do not use potatoes from the supermarket when selecting seed potatoes. Grocery products are often treated with growth inhibitors, which keep them fresher for longer and also prevent sprouting or stunt growth.

It is important to use certified seed potatoes that are free from disease. Examine the seed potatoes before planting and throw out any with soft spots, cracks or bruises.

You may decide to “chit”, or pre-sprout, the potatoes before you plant. This step can add up to two weeks to your planting time if you want to encourage stem development on your potatoes. Many gardeners prefer to chit potatoes because they produce a faster, larger potato.

Growing Vegetables from A to Z
View from the side of a vegetable plot
What you’ll need
Equipment and Tools
Seed potatoes
Powdered sulfur (optional)
Bag (optional)
Egg cartons, boxes, trays, or screens (optional).

Find out how to plant seed potatoes successfully

View from above of the materials required for planting seed potatoes
The Spruce by Debbie Wolfe
Chit the Potatoes Optional
You will still get pale, long shoots, but they will be easy to break. Place them in a cool place with bright light and leave for 2 to 4 week. So, they will become sturdy, dark green, and stocky. Greening is another name for this process. Place your seed potatoes in an upright position on a tray or egg carton. You can also place them on a screen or tray with their majority of buds (called “eyes”) facing upward. Avoid stacking them on top of each other. This process can be started one month prior to your date for outdoor planting.

Place the seed potatoes near a spot that receives direct sunlight
Cut the Potatoes Optional
It is not necessary to plant the whole potato. You can cut seed potatoes into pieces before you plant them. Each piece must have at least one “eye”, a bud which will sprout a new plant. Cut the seed potatoes in 2-inch squares with a clean, sharp knife. You can cut the potatoes about two days prior to planting. The pieces will form a seal or callus, which will prevent rotting as the pieces grow and take roots. Plant it whole if your seed potato is no bigger than a ping-pong ball.

Cut the seed potatoes into half
Plant the Sprouted Potatoes
Plant the potatoes when the sprouts reach a length of 1/2 to 1 inch. Be careful when handling the seed potatoes to avoid damaging the sprouts. Cover lightly with soil and plant potatoes with sprouts facing upwards. Make sure that the cut side of the seed potato is facing up.

Planting seed potatoes
Plant rows
Planting potatoes in 3 foot rows will produce the best results. Plant the potatoes in a 6 to 8 inch deep trench. Place the cut side up, eyes facing upward. The seed potatoes should be spaced 12 to 15 inches apart. Fill the trench up with four inches of soil. Add more soil as the plants grow. Mound it around the plants.

Planting seed potatoes in rows that are spaced apart
Water Well
Water potatoes regularly throughout the summer, but especially during flowering. During the flowering stage, the plants start to produce the edible tubers. To produce well, potatoes need between 1 and 2 inches of moisture per week.

The seed potatoes should be watered well
Harvesting the mature potatoes
Stop watering the plants when the leaves turn yellow. This will start the curing process. After the flowering has stopped, you can harvest “new” or baby potatoes. You can remove the new potatoes by digging around the plants. Leave the smaller potatoes growing.

Harvest potatoes you intend to store two to three weeks following the death of the foliage. Remove the potatoes from the bed using a garden fork. If it is dry outside, you can leave the potatoes unwashed in the garden for 2 to 3 days. You can also move them into a protected place, like a garage or shed.

A person digging up potatoes.
Seed Potato Tips
It is not necessary to chit potatoes in order to have a good harvest. You may want to chit potatoes if they are sprouting or you want to harvest them earlier. You should chit your potatoes before you cut them.
More eyes per potato piece means more potatoes when planting whole seed potatoes. The smaller potatoes that have one or two eyes in each piece will yield fewer potatoes but larger potatoes.
You can protect your seed potatoes by dusting them with sulfur powder right after they are cut and before you plant them. Add the sulfur to the bag with the potatoes and shake. Lay the pieces on a flat surface and allow them to dry for 3-4 days.
You can slow the growth of seed potatoes by moving them to a cooler area if you need to delay planting due to weather conditions or other reasons. Do not wait too long, as the potatoes will start to shrivel and dehydrate.
One pound of seeds should produce approximately 10 pounds of edible potato. One pound should be enough to fill between a 5 and 8 foot row of potatoes, depending on the type.
You can plant seed potatoes easily in pots and bags. Both are great alternatives to planting in soil if you’re having problems with voles. Bags and pots can be planted in the same way. Fill the grow bag half full of potting soil, then plant the seeds. Continue to add more soil as the potatoes grow. Spread out a sheet or tarp and dump the bag to harvest. Sorting the potatoes out of the bag is a great activity for kids!