Growing Guides

How To Plant and Grow Seed Potatoes

Table of Contents

Potatoes are an easy and fun to grow vegetable! A small area can provide a nice yield of this tasty vegetable. One of the bonuses of growing potatoes is that you can eat them at various stages of growth.

The young 'new potatoes' are often harvested and cooked, while most are allowed to reach maturity and eaten or stored for use throughout the winter.

What Are Seed Potatoes?

Seed Potatoes are tubers that have been grown the previous season and stored through the winter.

Do Seed Potatoes Rot?

Fungal growth and freezing temperatures are the most common causes for a potato to rot. Do not allow your tubers to experience freezing temperatures.

Avoid fungal growth on your tubers by unboxing immediately and providing adequate ventilation in a cool, dry spot. 

Receiving Care

  • Open-box immediately upon receipt to provide airflow.
  • Store tubers in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area until they can be planted.
  • Planting as soon as possible is ideal, but tubers can store in ideal conditions for weeks.
  • DO NOT allow tubers to freeze.
  • DO NOT put tubers in soil or water before planting.

Soil Preparation

Seed potatoes need to have the right type of soil to grow correctly. Potatoes grow best in loose, well-drained soil high in organic matter.

What pH Should You Plant Seed Potatoes in?

Generally speaking, potatoes like well-drained soil with a pH between 5.8 and 6.5. Make sure the soil is loose and rich.

Be sure to add organic matter like peat moss or compost as well as fertilizer to the soil before planting your seed potatoes in a sunny location. 

Should You Fertilize Seed Potatoes?

Add a 5-10-10 or 10-20-20 fertilizer as needed. Mix the fertilizer into the soil prior to planting. Till or spade the soil to a depth of ten or twelve inches. If your soil is drought-prone or sandy you can compensate for this issue by watering the soil more frequently.

You may also want to work more organic matter into the soil prior to planting. Organic matter helps soil hold onto moisture longer rather than letting it drain out. Avoid using fresh manure or lime in the soil, as it tends to cause scabs on the potatoes. 

Look out for Scab-Prone and Blight-Prone Areas: In some cases, gardeners find that their potatoes grow with scabs or end up being too small. Scabs can result from many soil problems, such as the use of fresh manure or lime.

If adding manure to your beds before planting, make sure you use properly aged manure and compost to reduce the risk of scab in your potatoes. Remember to rotate the type of crops you plant in your garden beds every year to help reduce the risk of disease and insect pressure. You may have to experiment with different types of soil preparation.

Remember that you can always grow potatoes in barrels or potato patio planter bags to gain more control over your soil and moisture balance. Growing your potatoes in containers also makes harvest easier!

Tips for Planting Seed Potatoes

When Do You Plant Seed Potatoes?

Seed potatoes are shipped in early spring based on zip codes. Select a location that gets full sun and plant your potatoes in spring, as soon as soil can be worked.

Plant before the last frost: Potatoes can tolerate cool soil and a moderate frost. They should be planted when the soil temperature reaches 50 degrees Fahrenheit, often as early as two to three weeks before the last frost. 

Pre-sprout your seed potatoes: Greensprouting or "chitting" breaks the dormancy of seed potatoes prior to planting and can lead to an earlier harvest. Place potatoes in a warm humid location for one to two weeks until the eyes start to sprout. Once the eyes have sprouted, move the potatoes back into a cool location (roughly 50°F) until you are ready to plant.

Should You Plant Entire Seed Potatoes?

Generally, no cutting is required. Large seed potatoes with many ‘eyes’ can be cut into halves or quarters before planting. Cut tubers into pieces about 1-2 inches in diameter with at least one "eye" per piece. Cut pieces with a clean, sterile, sharp knife. Allow the cut surface to callus over for a few days before planting. Small tubers can be planted whole.

How Far Apart Should Seed Potatoes Be Planted?

Each section should have two or three 'growth eyes'. After cutting, let the cut surface callus over for a few days before planting them.

Potatoes can be spaced in many different ways. The more room you give the plant to grow, the better chance the plant has to produce a decent amount of well sized tubers.

Ideally, the pieces can be planted in a trench 6-8 inches deep, spaced about a foot apart. Space trenches two to three feet apart. 

Seed Potato Best Practices

Grow in full sun: Potatoes require at least six hours of direct sunlight each day.

Plant your seed potatoes with the “growth eyes” facing up. Cover tubers with about an inch of soil.

Pull in additional soil over the foliage as plants develop to create a hill or mound. Potatoes may also be grown in barrels or potato patio planter bags. Partially fill the barrel or planted bag with at least 6-8 inches of soil.

Place your potato in the container and cover with about 1 inch of soil. As the potato grows, continue to fill the container with soil, covering the foliage.


Consistent soil moisture produces the best results. Black or hollow centers on potatoes are often caused by overwatering. Irregular watering causes irregularly shaped or knobby potatoes. 

How Much Water Should You Give Seed Potatoes?

Keep the soil moist throughout the growing season by entering regularly. Once the leaves turn yellow, stop watering so they can dry out completely before storage. As a guideline, water potatoes approximately 1" per week in warmer summer weather.

Seed Potato Harvest and Storage Tips

Your potatoes are fully mature and ready for harvest once the foliage dies back. This typically occurs in late summer.

Dig potatoes from the soil, taking care not to cause wounds to the flesh of the tuber. Wounds allow disease to enter the tuber and will decrease storage ability.

Remove soil by brushing off or washing and allow tubers to dry thoroughly. Minimize light exposure during cleaning. Store in a cool, dark spot with high humidity and good ventilation.

Shop High-Quality Seed Potatoes From Harris Seeds

Harris Seeds has been providing the highest quality seed potatoes to customers for over 100 years. Shop our wide variety of Seed Potatoes from our online store today!