Potatoes are some of the most versatile root veggies around.
Boil ‘em, mash ‘em, put ‘em in a stew.
As easy as they are to cook, they’re just as easy to grow, especially if you’re using grow bags.
Can Potatoes Grow in a Grow Bag?
TLDR: Yes! But…
Potatoes do really well in grow bags if they’re given enough space and the right mix of nutrients. As long as you’re using a large enough grow bag, you can get a successful harvest just like you would if you planted them in the ground!
Grow bags are actually ideal for potatoes since they allow you to keep track of all the potatoes that grow and harvest them more easily. When you grow them in the ground, there’s a lot more digging involved to harvest and you can accidentally miss some of the fully grown potatoes.
If you plant potatoes in a grow bag, you can simply empty the bag out and pick the potatoes out of the dirt. You won’t miss any, and there’s no digging required!
It’s also difficult to overwater in a grow bag since the bags are breathable. Excess water drains out, preventing root rot, which is especially damaging for root vegetables.
Root growth in grow bags is healthier than in solid containers, because the roots are air pruned as they reach the edges of the bag.
Some grow bags are specifically designed for potatoes, but any grow bag will work if it’s large enough.
Preferred Growing Medium for Potatoes
Potatoes prefer well-draining soil with a balanced mix of nutrients.
It’s important to prevent water from sitting too long around the roots so the potatoes and roots don’t rot. Sandy or loamy soil works well for potatoes because it retains enough moisture for the plants to grow well while draining out the excess.
Loamy just means nutrient-rich, well-draining soil, so don’t let the word throw you off!
The other reason your soil quality matters is that potatoes will grow better in softer soil, rather than compact clay soil.
You can make up soil for potatoes by taking regular garden soil and mixing it with compost and either sand or extra organic material. Shredded leaves, grass clippings, shredded bark, coconut husks, or similar organic materials work well to make soil “loamier”.
A bag full of good soil is a must for a healthy potato harvest.
The good news about potatoes is that they’re really easy to plant! The potato itself is the seed.
While there technically are actual seeds for potato plants, you’ll probably get better results by growing from seed potatoes. This is what farmers and gardeners everywhere do.
Seed potatoes can be ordered online from reputable growers or bought locally from some plant nurseries or gardening stores.
When you’re ordering online, look for certified seed potatoes if you want to get potatoes that are guaranteed to be free of disease.
Seed potatoes will look just like the potatoes you would eat because… Well… They’re the same thing.
Once a potato is planted, it’s hard to tell if it’s sprouting or not.
So, it’s a good idea for beginners to let the potatoes sprout before planting them.
Set your seed potatoes in a dark, cool place and give them some time. You should start seeing sprouts growing out of the eyes of the potatoes over time.
Planting a potato is as simple as digging a small hole into your prepared soil, dropping the seed potato in, and covering it.
The ideal depth to plant a seed potato is 6-8 inches down. At this depth, you’re giving the future potato plant enough room to grow a strong stem, healthy roots, and large tubers (AKA potatoes).
Plant the seed potato with the sprouted eyes pointing upwards, since these will grow into the actual plant stalks.
If your seed potatoes have a lot of sprouts, you can cut them into smaller pieces and plant them separately. Each piece can grow into its own plant!
How Many Potatoes Per Grow Bag?
Full-sized potatoes need some wiggle room because they grow as tubers on the root system of the potato plant. If you put potato plants too close together, the potatoes may end up fighting for nutrients or blocking each other’s growth.
With this in mind, you can plant 1 potato per 2-2&1/2 gallons. Don’t plant potatoes in a grow bag smaller than 2 gallons unless you’re going to harvest only new potatoes.
While you can grow multiple potato plants in a single grow bag, it’s generally better to stick to a max of 2 potatoes per bag to give them the room they need to thrive.
Depending on the variety of potato you’re growing, you may need to switch up the size of the grow bag you use.
Larger varieties of potatoes will need a little extra space.
For example, sweet potatoes should have around 5 gallons per plant to allow them to grow without any issues.
Fingerling potatoes can be grown in smaller bags since they’re naturally smaller than most of the other common potato varieties.
If you’re growing new potatoes, you can also put them in smaller grow bags or include a few extra potatoes in each bag. New potatoes are any variety of potato that’s harvested early while they’re still soft and immature.
Can you plant store-bought potatoes?
BUT, it might take longer for the potatoes to sprout. Many potatoes sold in supermarkets are treated with an herbicide called chlorpropham. This is a common, safe herbicide that’s used to control weeds while the potatoes are growing and to prevent potatoes from sprouting while they’re on the shelves.
Because of this treatment, store-bought potatoes may not sprout as quickly and may not produce as much as you’d hoped. However, any potatoes you harvest from your first crop can be replanted without any issues, and most likely with better results!
If you bought a bag of potatoes and you have a few left that have started sprouting, there’s no harm in planting them. They will likely grow and give you a harvest, even if it’s small to begin with. Small potatoes are still delicious potatoes.
Caring for Potatoes
If you live in a temperate zone, potatoes prefer full sun. If you live in a sub-tropical, tropical, or another hot zone, put your grow bags in an area with partial sunlight, preferably the morning sun.
The good thing about grow bags is that you don’t have to commit to growing in a specific area. If the sunlight is drying out the soil too much, move the bags to a shadier spot. If there’s not enough sun, move the bags out of the shade into a sunnier spot.
You’ll know the plants are getting too much sun when the leaves are drying out from the tips to the stems. You can tell a plant isn’t getting enough sun when you see it growing long and leggy, for the leaves are looking pale yellow or green.
When you’ve just planted potatoes, they don’t need a lot of water. Keep the ground moist, but don’t overwater.
As the stalks begin to grow, the plant will need more water. From the point where it begins flowering, you should make sure you’re maintaining an even level of moisture in the dirt every day. Potato plants need plenty of water to grow even, properly shaped potatoes.
If your potatoes are getting rained on, that should provide enough water. Check on the dirt every day to make sure it’s moist, but not wet.
Stop watering your potatoes when the leaves begin to yellow and dry out. At this point, the potatoes should be almost fully grown, so water could end up causing them to rot.
When to Harvest
Potatoes are ready for harvest when the above-ground portion of the plant dies and dries up fully. This is when the tubers (AKA potatoes) are full-sized and ready for harvest.
If you want your potatoes to have a longer shelf life, wait for 1-2 weeks after the plant dries up before harvesting. This gives the potato skins time to harden, so they’ll last longer in your pantry.
The best part about growing potatoes in a grow bag is that harvesting is an absolute breeze.
Rather than digging around and hoping you don’t miss anything, you can empty the bags out and pick the potatoes out of the soil.
Ideally, you should empty out the grow bags into a controlled space. A wheelbarrow would be good, or a plastic sheet laid out on the ground. Once you’ve emptied out your grow bags, sift through the poured soil and grab any potatoes you see.
This is a huge improvement over digging up huge spaces in your garden, hoping not to miss any of the harvest underground!
Once you’ve grown your own potatoes, you never have to buy seed potatoes again, unless you want to.
Set aside at least one potato from each plant you harvest. These will be your seed potatoes for the next batch you grow.
You can replant them right away or store them until the next growing season.
To store potatoes for months, they need to be kept in a dark, cool, dry place. It’s best to keep them around 50°F (10°C), which might mean refrigerating them if you live in a hot climate. Don’t freeze your seed potatoes if you intend to grow them in the future.
Most potato varieties can be stored for months in the right conditions. Thicker-skinned potatoes like russet potatoes will last longer, while potato varieties with thinner skin may not last as long.
Before replanting, take the seed potatoes out of storage and let them sit in a brighter, warmer spot until they begin sprouting.
Growing potatoes in a grow bag is simple and highly rewarding. Even if you’re a true beginner, you’ll probably be able to get a harvest of some size.
Why not give it a go this year?
What Else Can You Plant in a Grow Bag?
Want to expand your garden past potatoes?
Check out our full guide of what you can (and can’t) grow in grow bags!