Top Tips for Growing Potatoes in Containers
One of the most versatile crops in terms of growth needs, potatoes typically grow well in containers.
Growing potatoes in containers involves only a few tweaks to garden growing. Find a container of proper size and drainage for the potatoes you want to grow. Plant whole or pieces of potatoes in your containers with a soil mix of fertilizer and an acidic component. Cover the potatoes with a couple inches of soil and keep the soil damp with plenty of sunlight. As your plants grow, add more soil and fertilizer for optimal production.
How to Choose a Container
Potatoes are one of the easiest crops to grow, and they can be grown virtually anywhere - including in random containers you find around your home! The good thing is you don’t need to be picky when choosing the right container for growing potatoes.
The size of your container depends on how big the potatoes are that you want to grow and how many potatoes you’d like to get from your plant. The bigger the container, the higher the possible yield from your plant. Taller is better than wider, since potatoes grow up higher within the soil. As they grow, you’ll need to add more soil in your container, and you’ll need a container with height to allow it.
You’ll also want to make sure your container has adequate drainage. If you’re using a plastic container, simply poke a few holes on the bottom for water to drain from. Or, purchase growing containers with holes from a garden supply store.
Choosing the Best Types of Potatoes
Most varieties of potatoes grow well in containers or gardens alike. If you want a few different sizes of potatoes, consider planting different varieties in separate containers.
Here are some monster potatoes...
If you want to plant your potatoes whole, it’s best to look for smaller potatoes. But, if you choose larger potatoes to plant, you can cut them into pieces for better growth.
Gardening Know How recommends that you choose certified seed potatoes, which will ensure that your potatoes are disease-free. You can buy them from a garden store or reputable potato farmer, or look on the labels of the potatoes are your local supermarket to find certified seed potatoes. You can, alternatively, save potatoes from the previous year’s harvest, as long as they’ve been stored properly, but do so with caution because this leaves your crop at more risk for carried-over diseases.
Preparing Your Potatoes
Preparing potatoes for planting and growing in containers is much like growing them in a garden. Smaller potatoes can be planted whole, as long as they are smaller than two inches in diameter. They also need to have at least one or two eyes and sprouts, as this is where your potato vines will grow.
If you have potatoes larger than two inches, prepare to cut them into two-inch chunks. Each chunk should have at least one eye and sprout on it, so be sure to cut strategically and carefully between the eyes and sprouts.
If you’re cutting your potatoes, plan on cutting them at least one or two days before you want to plant them. This allows the cut sides of your potatoes to toughen before they end up in moist soil. If not, they’ll be more susceptible to disease and rot.
Creating a Soil Mixture
Potatoes don’t need a lot of extra care from its soil. You can use a basic soil mix with some added fertilizer, either store-bought or an animal manure.
If the soil isn’t acidic, you need a bit of additive to make it acidic. Either sulfur or peat moss can be mixed with the soil to provide the acidity potatoes need to grow well.
Depending on your container, you also might want to consider a fast-draining soil to more easily allow water to drain. This is a good idea if you’re worried about your container holes being too small or becoming clogged. If you’re using a quality gardening container, this shouldn’t be an issue.
Make sure your soil is loose for proper aeration and growth ability.
Placing Your Soil and Potatoes for Maximum Growth
Osmocote Garden provides a very informative video showing how easy it is to plant your potatoes for maximum growth within a container:
Start by placing only one or two inches of soil at the bottom of your container. Place your whole potatoes or potato pieces on top of this layer of soil. The eye and sprout of the potato should be facing up for easier growth through the soil.
If you have large containers, you can plant a few potatoes or potato pieces in one container, with at least five to seven inches of space in between. Smaller containers should only house one or two potatoes or pieces.
Pour more soil on top of the potatoes, completely covering them and giving an extra two or three inches on top.
Potatoes don’t need a lot of maintenance, no matter where they’re grown. But, you do need to keep the soil moist at all times. Potato soil should never be wet or dry. Consistent watering is key, but overwatering will cause potatoes to rot. If you have a lot of rainfall in your area, you should consider finding a safe spot for your potato containers to stay sheltered from excessive rainwater.
Keep your potatoes in at least six to eight hours of sunlight per day. This helps to warm the soil for maximum growing potential and aids in vine growth and health, which supplies your underground potatoes with necessary food.
Consider mixing a slow-release fertilizer into the soil for optimum feeding and health. You can also use a liquid fertilizer, diluted according to the label’s instructions, every few weeks as a regular maintenance routine.
Once your potatoes begin to multiply underground and start rising within the container, add two or three more inches of soil on top. You’ll continue to do this until there are just a few inches left between the soil and the top of the container.