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Grow Plentiful Potatoes in Containers: Simple Tips for Beginners (2023)

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growing potatoes in containers tipsGrowing potatoes in containers tips

Planting potatoes is like opening Pandora’s box—you won’t know what tasty treasures you’ll uncover until those vines start flowering. Let your potato curiosity bloom by trying container gardening. With just a few simple tips, you’ll harvest bushels of homegrown potatoes in spaces as small as a patio container.

Discover new potato potential with specially bred varieties thriving in potting mix, fertilizer, and water. Tailor your tuber harvest by choosing early-, mid-, or late-season potatoes. Tend those fascinating stems and leaves until they wither, signaling grub time.

Dig your hands into that rich soil, feel around for starchy nuggets, and pull up potatoes of all shapes and sizes. Carefully grown container potatoes let you enjoy this versatile veggie fresh from the source.

Don’t limit your next potato harvest—embrace the mystery in a pot.

Key Takeaways

  • Select large, durable containers with good drainage and use soil amended with organic fertilizer.
  • Choose compact, early or late season potato varieties suitable for containers. Cut seed potatoes and plant callused chunks with the eye side up.
  • Water thoroughly and increase the frequency as plants mature. Mound soil/mulch around stems every 2-3 weeks as the plants grow.
  • Harvest potatoes when the foliage starts dying back. Cure the tubers for 1-2 weeks before storing them in cool, humid, dark conditions.

Why Grow Potatoes in Containers?

Why Grow Potatoes in Containers
Growing potatoes in containers allows gardeners like you more variety, a decorative touch, and different mediums with which to work. With containers, you are not limited by space in the ground and can grow more types of potatoes.

Container-grown potatoes also allow you to add visual interest on a patio or deck. Finally, planting in pots opens up options beyond ordinary garden soil, such as using a potting mix amended with compost.

More Variety

You can cultivate more uncommon early potato varieties that may not thrive or be locally available when planting in the ground. Containers allow you to grow varieties not limited by your region or growing zone.

Try exotic, hard-to-find early potato cultivars or heirlooms with distinctive colors and flavors. Plant each type in its own large plastic bucket or opaque container so you can easily identify the varieties.

Follow the usual hilling procedure as the plants develop. When it’s time to harvest, simply turn out each bucket to collect your different homegrown potato types.

Decorative Touch

The decorative containers add a fun pop of color as the potato vines spill over the sides, creating an unexpected living decoration for your patio or balcony. Grow colorful early-ripening varieties in potting soil enriched with organic fertilizer in plastic buckets, or try tall purple and red heirlooms tumbling from whiskey barrels filled with prepared soil.

The lush green leaves and dainty blooms cascading over the edges of weatherproof pots positioned in high-traffic areas make for whimsical, edible landscaping that also produces a hearty crop of homegrown new potatoes by midsummer.

Different Mediums

Use a variety of plantin’ mediums like potting soil, compost, straw, or even shredded paper when growin’ spuds in containers for interestin’ textures and colors. Mix it up by plantin’ some seed taters in potting soil, others in compost-enriched soil, and some in straw bales for fun.

Seed potatoes’ll thrive in most mediums, so feel free to get creative and recycle materials like shredded paper for an eco-friendly, homemade mix. Just make sure to enrich with organic fertilizer since container potatoes need nutrients.

The taters’ll still grow fine in different mediums – the interestin’ colors and textures’ll simply add whimsical flair to your container potato garden.

Choosing the Right Container

Choosing the Right Container
Choosing the right container is key for a good potato harvest. Some popular options are grow bags and chicken wire fencing. With grow bags, you get excellent drainage and aeration since the fabric breathes.

Chicken wire fencing forms a cylinder that holds planting mix and allows plenty of room for tubers to expand. When selecting your container type, consider factors like durability, drainage, and ease of harvest.

Grow bags provide good drainage and aeration as the fabric allows airflow. Chicken wire fencing creates a cylindrical form that contains the planting mix and gives tubers space to grow larger. Evaluate each container type based on longevity, water drainage, and simplicity of harvesting when deciding which option to use.

Grow Bags

Grow bags let your taters thrive with ample root room. These fabric sacks hold plenty of potting mix for those tubers to expand. Fill grow bags partway with fertile, well-draining soil; plant seed potatoes; then top off with more medium.

As stems emerge and reach 8 inches, add more mix. This encourages deeply buried, robust tubers.

With grow bags’ breathability and drainage, you’ll reap an abundant harvest. Fertilizing at planting and midseason ensures your spuds have nutrients aplenty.

Chicken Fence

Secure chicken fencing around the perimeter of your container to provide a trellis for the vines. Use sturdy, metal chicken fencing or wire garden mesh to create a cage for your container potatoes.

  1. Provides natural trellising for vines to climb.
  2. Creates built-in support and space as plants grow.
  3. Eliminates need for separate trellises or stakes.
  4. Allows hilling soil up against the sides.
  5. Offers an ideal framework for prolific potato crops.

The fencing allows you to make progressively taller containers as the plants grow. Simply add more growing medium against the mesh as needed for hilling potato plants. The end result is an abundant harvest of tubers while accommodating those sweet potato vines.

Best Potato Varieties for Containers

Best Potato Varieties for Containers
Yukon Gold or Red Norland potatoes are great ‘tater varieties for containers, friend. Seek compact cultivars bred for pots when choosing spuds. They thrive in confined spaces, producing plump tubers without needing acres of land.

Early season potatoes like Irish Cobbler mature quickly, escaping summer’s heat. Midseason wonders like All Blue make tasty spuds come July. For late harvests, try German Butterballs or Purple Vikings, delaying gratification for autumn’s bounty.

When preparing the soil, mix potting soil with fertilizer to nourish the ‘taters. Add calcium and potash for robust plants and big hauls. Amend each container with compost or manure to fuel microbes that maintain fertility.

Test drainage by watering heavily, ensuring no puddles linger. Saturated soil deprives roots of air, encouraging rot.

Variety Maturity Yield Taste
Yukon Gold Midseason High Buttery, smooth
Red Norland Early season Moderate Mild, firm flesh
Purple Viking Late season High Rich, nutty flavor
German Butterball Late season Moderate Velvety texture

As the crop progresses, side-dress with more fertilizer to sustain vigor. Watch for pests like potato beetles, removing them by hand before damage spreads. When vines wither and die back, gently overturn containers to gather the ‘taters without bruising.

Cure them in a dark, dry place. Then eat or store properly to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Preparing and Planting Seed Potatoes

Preparing and Planting Seed Potatoes
First, select your seed potatoes, then cut them into smaller pieces, being sure each section has at least two eyes. Next, allow the freshly cut seed potato pieces to sit out at room temperature for 2-3 days to allow the cut surfaces to heal over and become calloused.

Finally, once calloused, the seed potato pieces will be less prone to rotting when planted in the container soil.

Cutting Seed Potatoes

Before cuttin’ those spuds, be sure to let ’em callus over for a day or two. This seals the open cuts and prevents disease from gettin’ in. When preparin’ seed potatoes, use a clean knife to slice larger tubers into smaller chunks.

Each piece should have a few sturdy eye buds for sproutin’. Cut blocks about the size of a golf ball, leavin’ plenty of nourishin’ potato flesh attached. Lay the potato pieces cut-side up until the cut surfaces harden. This forms a protective callus layer so diseases can’t invade the tender insides.

Plant your sturdy, prepared seed potato pieces eye buds up, spacing evenly. They’ll send up lush green shoots and grow more taters below ground. With care in cuttin’ and preparin’ spuds, you’ll get a bountiful harvest from each promisin’ piece.

Allowing to Callous

Y’all better let them taters form a protective crust before plantin’, or else disease’ll invade their tender insides quicker than politicians invade privacy. Cuttin’ seed potatoes exposes the vulnerable flesh, so givin’ the slices time to callous over builds a hardy shield.

Lay them cut-side up for a day or two till the surfaces seal up nice and proper. That protective layer stops blights and rots from sneakin’ in through fresh cuts.

Nestle the calloused chunks a few inches deep, eyes facin’ up for sprouting. Water gently, feed with organic fertilizer, and them seeds’ll send up robust foliage.

Give them potato slices time to heal, and you’ll reap an abundant harvest.

Caring for Container Potatoes

Caring for Container Potatoes
You’ll want to pay close attention to watering, fertilizing, and hilling when growing potatoes in containers. Potatoes require consistent moisture to produce a bountiful harvest, so check soil regularly and water thoroughly when the top few inches become dry.

In addition to consistent watering, container potatoes benefit from a side dressing of fertilizer at midseason and hilling soil up around the plant as it grows to allow for more tuber development.


You’ll want to keep the soil moist, but not soggy, as overwatering can lead to tuber rot. Aim to provide about 1 inch of water per week, whether through rainfall or manually watering. The ideal moisture level is consistently damp but never saturated. Check the soil frequently by sticking your finger in the drainage holes.

If the potting soil is dry more than 1 inch down, it’s time to water thoroughly until it runs out the bottom.

As the plants mature during the growing season, they’ll need more frequent watering. Make adjustments based on your specific climate, container type, and soil. With the right moisture level, your potatoes will thrive.


Adding a layer of compost or all-purpose fertilizer when planting gives your potatoes a nutrient boost for strong foliage and higher yields without overwatering.

  1. Mix slow-release organic fertilizer into potting soil before planting. This provides a steady feed over time.
  2. Side dress with compost or all-purpose fertilizer midseason. This gives an extra nutrient boost when plants need it most.
  3. Avoid high-nitrogen fertilizers that spur leafy growth over tubers. Choose balanced or low-nitrogen options.

With the right fertilization schedule, your container potatoes will thrive with robust green growth and plentiful tubers below ground.


Hunker down and muck Daddy Warbucks’ style for hilling potatoes in containers. As plants grow, gradually mound soil, compost, or mulch around stems. This hilling does three key things: 1) Protects developing tubers from sunlight, which turns them green and inedible.

2) Keeps tubers covered as they enlarge, preventing exposure. 3) Insulates soil, retaining moisture and nutrients. Hill every 2-3 weeks until plants flower. Aim for 6 inches of hilled material. Deep containers prevent hilling overflow.

With the right hill height, your tubers will stay protected, moist, and nutrient-rich for maximum harvest potential.

Identifying Issues

Identifying Issues
Experiencing problems with your container potatoes? Yellowing leaves and poor growth likely indicate underlying issues. As an expert gardener, you will want to thoroughly check for potential causes like insufficient nutrients, improper pH levels, lack of sunlight, or inadequate watering.

Addressing these common container potato pitfalls will get your plants back on track for a bountiful harvest.

Yellow Leaves

If those ‘tater leaves start turnin’ yellow, it’s time to perk ’em up with some plant food before your crop croaks. When the vines show signs of yellowin’ midseason, your ‘taters are cravin’ nutrients.

Without enough nitrogen for photosynthesis, those green skins can’t soak up sunshine to bulk up their tubers.

Give your plants a dose of liquid fertilizer, seaweed extract, or compost tea when yellowin’ appears so they can keep producin’. Monitor soil moisture since container potatoes are prone to dryin’ out. Keep those vines growin’ so you’ll have a fine harvest of new potatoes.

With the right care, your patio crop will reward you with bountiful spuds through the summer.

Poor Growth

Looks like them tiny taters need some TLC! Give your scrawny spuds a top dressing of compost and they’ll be thick as thieves in no time.

  • Test your potting soil’s pH and nutrients. Potatoes thrive in slightly acidic soil, so add sulfur or peat moss if needed.
  • Mix in a balanced organic fertilizer at planting and midseason. Compost provides steady nutrition without burning tender roots.
  • Good drainage prevents soggy soil from stunting growth. Add perlite if your potting mix is too dense.
  • Hill up soil as vines elongate to encourage tuber growth along stems. More nodes covered means more taters underground!

If vines stay stubby despite your TLC, consider pests, disease, or weather. With the proper care, your crop will take off in no time.

Harvesting Potatoes From Containers

Harvesting Potatoes From Containers
You’d better latch onto those taters with both hands before they vanish into thin air! As an experienced container gardener, you know that harvesting potatoes at the right time is key. Once the potato plant foliage starts turning yellow and dying back, it’s a sure sign that your tubers are reaching maturity.

Stop watering about 2 weeks before harvest to encourage the last of the potatoes to size up.

Then, gently loosen the soil and remove the plants. Carefully sift through the potting mix using your hands to unearth each potato, being mindful not to spear or slice them with tools or nails.

Cure the fresh potatoes in a dark, dry spot for a day or two before wiping clean with a soft brush or rag. Avoid exposing them to sunlight to prevent greening. Determine the ideal storage method based on variety – some keep for months while others are best enjoyed immediately.

Consider repurposing your potato containers, as long as they’re thoroughly cleaned and inspected for any remaining pests. With the right harvest timing and post-care, your homegrown spuds will stay fresh and ready for fall and winter meals.

Storing the Harvest

Storing the Harvest
After gatherin’ up your tubers, make sure to store ’em properly so they’ll last!

Potatoes need specific conditions to keep as long as possible after harvest. Here are a few tips:

  • Cure for 1-2 weeks. Let those spuds sit in a dark, dry, cool spot before storin’ to allow the skins to thicken.
  • Ventilation is vital. Air circulation prevents moisture buildup and rottin’. Store in open boxes or crates, not sealed containers.
  • Ideal temps are 40-50°F. Much below that, and your taters will get too sweet. Much above that leads to sproutin’ and shrinkin’.
  • High humidity, around 90%, keeps ’em from shrivelin’ up. Consider a humidifier if your storage spot is dry.
  • Darkness is a must. Light causes greenin’ and bitterness through solanine production.
  • Check often for rots and sprouts. Remove any spoiled tubers right away to prevent spreadin’.

Storin’ your potatoes properly after harvest allows enjoyment of your homegrown spuds for months to come.

Reusing Containers

Reusing Containers
After stowing your spuds, it’s time to prep those planters for next season’s crop!

Reusing containers is a sustainable way to grow your garden’s bounty year after year. With a little TLC, those repurposed pots and buckets can shelter root crops for harvests to come.

First, empty out any remaining growing medium and compost. Give the inside a good scrub with soap and water to remove any debris. This eliminates pests or diseases that may linger. Allow the container to dry fully before storing to prevent mold growth.

Before filling again, inspect carefully for any eggs or larvae left behind. Especially check crevices and corners.

Container Material Durability
Plastic Multiple seasons
Wood 2 – 3 years
Fabric 1 season

When prepping your container, refresh the potting mix entirely. Old soil likely lacks nutrients for vigorous growth.

Planting again in well-cleaned containers with new soil gives your crop the best chance of success.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How big does the container need to be?

When selecting the ideal container, size is important! Aim large – at least 5 gallons per plant provides those tubers space to develop into behemoths. However, fret not, with the proper care your harvest will thrive in any snug container you offer.

Can I grow potatoes in pots outdoors?

Yes, you can successfully grow potatoes in pots outdoors. Choose a pot at least 15 inches wide and deep for ample root growth. Be sure to enrich the potting mix with compost, use quality seed potatoes, water regularly, and provide full sun exposure.

How close together should I plant the seed potatoes?

You’ll want to space seed potatoes 10-12 inches apart in your container. This allows ample room for tubers to expand without crowding. When planting, handle spuds gingerly to avoid damaging those all-important eyes.

What causes hollow potatoes or brown spots?

Hollow potatoes and brown spots are often signs you’re doing everything right. Though it may seem counterintuitive, imperfections show the potato’s character. Focus on the process, not the product, and let your spuds’ quirks shine through.

Can I grow sweet potatoes or yams in containers?

Grow sweet potatoes in containers, but select small, compact varieties. Use a large pot and enrich the soil with compost. Make sure it drains well and sits in full sun. Plant slips 12 inches apart and water often.

Harvest when leaves start to yellow, about 4 months. Cure tubers in a warm place before eating.


Growing potatoes in containers is as rewarding as it is delicious. Though starting small, with just a few pots on the patio, this novel gardening approach will soon have you harvesting baskets full of homegrown spuds.

Save yourself from the supermarket’s wan offerings. With a little planning and TLC, you’ll be frying up batches of fingerlings in no time. The container gardener knows that limitations foster creativity; your potato patch is only as small as your imagination.

With the right know-how, even the tiniest urban plot can yield a bountiful potato harvest.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is a published author and software engineer and agriculture expert from the US. To date, he has helped thousands of people make their yards lush and thick.