We’ve all spent more time indoors this year – a trend that is likely to continue through the winter months. Indoor gardening is a great way to fill your time, and eating your harvest can make plant-based hobbies even sweeter. If you’re ready to expand your growing horizons, the humble potato is a great place to start. Growing your own potatoes is something that can be done year-round, making it an accessible addition to your garden whenever you feel your creativity sprouting. Growing an indoor potato plant is very simple and can yield quite a bounty. You can even plant potatoes of different varieties: red, russet, white, Yukon Gold, blue, or yellow (sorry, the sweet potato doesn’t count). With little more than patience, homegrown spuds can be a high point of your family’s mealtime.
Potato Prep: What Do You Need To Grow Potatoes Indoors?
- Seed potatoes
- A container
- Soil (or another growing medium)
- Light (either natural light or grow lights for potatoes)
Seed Potatoes – What Is A Seed Potato?
To get started, you’ll need a seed potato. A seed potato is just a regular potato tuber that has small growing points – called eyes. If you look closely at a mature potato, you’ll likely see small indentations where the eyes are beginning to grow. When the eyes are exposed to moisture, darkness and warmth, they soon sprout and grow, making a new potato plant in the process.
Where To Get A Seed Potato
You should be able to purchase seed potatoes from a local farm or even at a home improvement store, garden center or on Amazon. If you’d rather not buy seed potatoes, you can make your own from organic potatoes, such as russets or fingerlings. A word of caution – most non-organic potatoes purchased at a store are sprayed with a growth inhibitor that keeps eyes from forming. For best results, use organic potatoes.
Some recommend leaving a store-bought potato in an egg carton in a dry, dark place for a couple of weeks until eyes start to sprout on the potato, but there’s no need to wait quite that long and risk rotting. Instead, you can place most seed potatoes directly in the ground, as long as there are 2-3 eyes on the potato.
Potting For Indoor Potatoes
When growing potatoes indoors, it’s most common to plant them in a pot or container. The container should be – at minimum – a foot deep and a foot in diameter. Most experts recommend that you go deeper and broader with the pot size – all the way up to 18 inches deep and 16 inches in diameter. Once you have your container, poke some drainage holes in the bottom. Since you’re planting inside, be sure that you have a tray to collect any excess water.
One option that works well is a grow bag with an access flap, meaning you can harvest the potatoes from the container’s side. This option makes for a less messy process, as you don’t have to dig the potatoes out from the top of the planter.
Soil For Indoor Potatoes
When growing potatoes indoors or outdoors, you’ll want to place them in a loamy soil that drains well. You can make your own soil and include compost and sand, but you can also see great results by simply adding a potting mix from a store. Here are some of our favorite brands that work well for growing potatoes indoors.
How To Grow Potatoes Indoors – Planting Your Potatoes
Now that you’ve got your seed potatoes, potting soil and large container, you’re ready to plant. Start by adding a few inches of soil to the pot or bag. If it’s a larger container, you place a couple of your sprouted potatoes on top of the soil, leaving a few inches between each potato. You’ll want to angle your biggest and most-developed eye of each seed potato upward.
Cover them with a few more inches of soil and leave them in a sunny spot or on a south-facing windowsill (if you’ve got one big enough).
This won’t look like much at first, but this one container will soon be a small potato factory. With just three seed potatoes, you can produce five pounds of potatoes!
But how long does it take to grow potatoes indoors fully? Well, from this point, it should take about 3 or 4 months. Don’t worry, though; the fun journey toward some DIY taters is only beginning! Once you bury your potatoes,, you should see some green sprouts in a week-or-so, given that they receive sunlight through the day.
Hilling is the process of covering the new sprouts with moist soil, continuing to barely cover any greenery that pokes through. You should check every day to see when it is necessary. Once you’ve filled the container to the top with soil, simply wait for the leaves to turn yellow, then harvest your new potatoes!
How Much Light Do Potatoes Need?
Potatoes require full sun – at least six hours each day. When growing potatoes indoors, place them at a south-facing window to get the most sunlight. If that’s not possible, consider a grow light for potatoes.
Grow Lights For Potatoes
If you don’t have a south-facing window or a sunny home, there’s still hope. Using grow lights for potatoes is a great way to simulate sunlight. Growing potatoes under LED lights can supplement any cloudy days or buildings which obstruct your access to the sun. Check out this full list of the best grow lights for indoor plants.
Potatoes are generally ready in about three months, but it can vary depending on the variety. A better way to know when to harvest is by looking for the blooms on the potato plant. When you’ve seen blooms and the plants start to turn yellow, it means that the potatoes are ready to harvest. That said, it doesn’t necessarily mean the potatoes are large at this point. If you’re looking for bigger potatoes, you might need to wait a week or two more before harvesting.
Once again, I recommend planting the potatoes in a grow bag with an access flap. Not only does this make it easy to harvest your potatoes, but you can check on them without disrupting the plant.
If you’re growing the potatoes in a container without a flap, you’ll need to dig them out or simply dump the container and sift through the dirt to find your potatoes.
When harvesting your tubers, be on the lookout for green potatoes. The green color could indicate that the potato is toxic. In most cases, this wouldn’t cause anything worse than indigestion. To be safe, though, cut out any part of the potato that is green before eating it.
The soil around a potato plant should be moist but not drenched. For most plants, you’ll want to water every five days or so and add no more than two inches of water per week.
How To Care For Indoor Potatoes
As you can see, planting potatoes isn’t too difficult, and keeping them alive through the growing process is pretty straight-forward. In fact, growing potatoes indoors almost always produces a disease-free crop, as it is shielded from the harsher outdoor elements. Yes, whether you simply want some spuds in the garden or have a super-specific question, such as how to grow red potatoes in a bucket on your mind, watering frequently and leaving the houseplants in full-sun should just about do the trick. Whichever types of potatoes you choose to grow shouldn’t be an issue for your indoor growing dreams, though there are a number of ways to optimize conditions.
Growing Potatoes Hydroponically
In addition to growing potatoes under grow lights, you can also grow potatoes in water by using a hydroponic system.
Growing potatoes hydroponically is similar to growing in soil, though it gets a constant stream of nutrients from the water. This can result in a much quicker harvest, up to a month earlier than the traditional indoor method! Choosing the right hydroponic device is where most of the difference comes in.
Ideally, you want one that provides a constant, controlled flow of water and drainage, while also allowing top access for sunlight and “hilling,” as mentioned above. The growing container should be lined with clay pebbles for efficient draining and then filled with a few inches of a growing medium like perlite, coco coir, or vermiculite. Simply plant your seed potato(es) in the grow medium, and cover with a few more inches. Make sure your hydroponic system is regularly keeping the growing medium moist but not wet, or the potatoes will rot. Keep the vessel in a bright and sunny area, covering any greenery as it pokes through the soil. Once the vines die, harvest and enjoy!
Whether you decide to grow in a planter or with a hydroponic system, think of the rewards of potato-growing indoors! A homegrown potato is typically tastier than anything that ends up in the store, and you can harvest all year round. So if you’re willing to put in the time, follow the steps above to grow your potatoes indoors. You could even start a plant every month for non-stop potato harvests. Fry up a few tasty taters alongside some bright red grilled tomatoes and a lightly salted avocado from your garden and you’ve got yourself a deliciously fresh veggie breakfast! Growing potatoes at home puts you one step closer to non-stop, seasonal self-sustainability.