There is nothing better than delicious, decadent, fluffy potatoes or crispy roast potatoes covered in thick, rich gravy.
Potatoes, spuds, or taters – no matter what you call them or how you eat them, this versatile tuber is a staple diet in many homes globally.
The potato plant is a relative of the nightshade or Solanaceae plant family and is cultivated by many cultures for its starchy tubers that grow underground.
Potatoes have been around for centuries and have been cultivated as a food source for nearly 2,000 years.
In addition, they are considered one of the most important global crops, giving rice, maize, and wheat a good run for their money!
With over 5,000 varieties to choose from, it’s no wonder avid gardeners are keen to add this plant to their gardening repertoire.
Can you grow potatoes indoors? With proper technique, potatoes can thrive indoors. Plant sprouted seed potatoes in a deep container with a slightly acidic soil (pH of 4.8-6.0). Provide bright light for 8-10 hours a day. Water frequently, and fertilize monthly. Hill young plants after 8 inches of growth.
This guide will show you how to grow potatoes indoors in a few simple steps. We’ll also cover key growing tips and which pest and diseases to guard against.
Be sure to use the frequently asked questions section to resolve any burning potato questions you may have.
What’s Needed to Grow Potatoes Indoors
Potatoes, like all plants, require a certain amount of care to develop tasty tubers. So before you start growing your spuddy friends indoors, you will need to gather some basic supplies and consider their growing needs:
- Deep pots, containers, buckets, or grow bags
- Seed potatoes
- Moist multipurpose compost
- Sufficient space to store the growing plants
- Bright sunlight or grow lights
- All-purpose fertilizer
1. Container Selection
Depending on your indoor space, there are several container options from which you can choose.
For example, you can use a large garden pot or bucket or a plastic or cloth grow bag. The container size is important as most of the potato plant’s growth is underground.
Therefore, a suitable container size for potatoes is around 2 1/2 gallons, giving the plant sufficient growing space.
Buckets are an excellent option if you need to move the plant frequently.
Alternatively, you can use fabric grow bags with handles, many of which have handy side windows so you can watch or access your potatoes as they grow.
Heavy-duty material bags allow for good aeration and drainage; these bags usually hold up to four potato plants.
Terracotta pots are excellent for maintaining warmth and moisture but must be at least 20-25 inches deep.
Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. People use trash cans, heavy-duty garbage bags, barrels, storage bins, and even lined cardboard boxes (though this can get messy).
As long as you’re confident that your chosen vessel won’t leak and ruin your floors, you’re good to go!
2. Choosing your Potatoes
You can easily purchase seed potatoes online or from your local nursery.
Using potatoes that have gone to seed in your grocery cupboard may seem like a straightforward option.
However, store-bought potatoes often have disease resulting in unhealthy potato plants and poor tuber production. Also, they may have been treated with a sprout inhibitor for longer shelf life.
First, check the seed potato for “eyes.” This is where the potato grows new sprouts and is considered the top side of the potato.
You can leave the potatoes whole, or cut them into smaller pieces, ensuring each piece has at least one eye. If you cut them, allow them to dry, or cure, for at least 2-3 days.
Then, place the potatoes on a bright window sill so they’ll get the light needed to develop strong sprouts. When the sprouts have reached 1 inch (2.5 cm), they are ready for planting.
What’s the Difference Between Seed Potatoes and Regular Potatoes?
Regular eating potatoes are cultivated for eating purposes only. They are treated with chemical inhibitors to prevent them from sprouting on their way to the supermarket shelf.
Some chemical inhibitors include chloro isopropyl-N phenyl carbamate (CIPC), ethylene, and maleic hydrazide. Not so tasty!
When these potatoes sprout, the risk of disease is higher for future potatoes. In addition, diseased potatoes can cause a lot of soil damage.
Seed potatoes are specifically grown and are disease free. They are not treated with inhibitors and so will sprout and produce healthy plants without damaging the soil.
What Are the Best Potatoes To Grow?
There are many varieties of seed potatoes to choose from when selecting seedling potatoes to grow.
Potatoes come in three categories, all-purpose, waxy, and starchy and most are relatively easy to grow.
For example, an excellent all-purpose seed potato for beginners is the Casablanca seed potato.
It produces lots of tubers and is resistant to common diseases such as blackleg, eelworm, and blight. Other popular varieties for container growing include:
- Yukon Gold.
- Yukon Gem.
- Red Gold.
- Red Norland.
- Russian Banana (fingerling).
- Rose Finn Apple (fingerling).
- German Butterball.
- Red Chieftain.
- Irish Cobbler
3. Growing Instructions
Propagating potato plants from seed potatoes is super easy. Follow the simple instructions below to get your seed potatoes started.
- Fill the bottom of the container with organic multi-purpose compost.
- Place four seed potatoes with sprouts pointing upwards onto the soil layer. Ensure they are evenly spaced.
- Cover the seed potatoes with approximately 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) of compost.
- The shoots will take about 4 weeks to peep through the soil. Top up the compost as the shoots grow, ensuring the shoots are fully covered each time. This process is called “hilling.”
Best Soil for Growing Potatoes in Containers
Use a good-quality organic potting mix, rich in nutrients and minerals with a pH level between 4.8 and 6.
Ensure the soil has good drainage as potato tubers will rot if the soil becomes waterlogged.
Where to Place the Potato Plants
Position the containers in a warm, bright room near a door or window. Alternatively, place the plants on a sunny balcony.
Although the potato plant can tolerate cool temperatures, it should be protected from frost and kept within a reasonably warm temperature range of 45-75℉ (7-23℃) for maximum growth.
Caring for Your Potatoes
Potatoes are pretty hardy and require very little in terms of daily care.
However, by providing the plants with the correct amount of light, temperature, and water, you will have thriving indoor potato plants all year round.
How Much Light Do Potatoes Need?
While potato plants require sunlight to grow, the plant should not be left in direct sunlight for extended periods.
This can cause the leaves to scorch and increase the need for watering.
Instead, potato plants should have access to bright filtered light for a minimum of five hours per day when grown indoors.
If the light is low indoors, you can increase the light exposure by using a grow light, like this affordably priced two-lamp light with timers and an assortment of modes.
Potato plants thrive in moist, light soil that does not become waterlogged when soaked. Ensure the soil drains well after each watering session.
When the potatoes are first planted, avoid overwatering for at least two weeks, then water generously every four or five days.
Increase your watering schedule at week six to every second day to prevent the soil from drying out.
Stop watering the potato plant two weeks before harvesting to allow the tuber skins to dry and cure.
Start fertilizing the plants two weeks after planting using a diluted balanced fertilizer (like this organic formula) or tomato feed.
Apply the fertilizer monthly when watering to ensure it is adequately absorbed by the plants.
Stop the fertilizing schedule two weeks before harvesting the potatoes; this should coincide with the halted watering schedule. There is no need to fertilize once watering has ceased.
When To Harvest Potatoes
The potato plant will produce flowers when the tubers are ready to be harvested, at approximately 90- 120 days after planting.
The foliage will gradually die off and turn yellow in color, but the potatoes are safe to leave in the compost for a further two weeks if needed.
Gently dig into the compost to check the tuber size.
How To Store Harvested Potatoes
Tip the containers out onto a plastic sheet and remove potatoes from the soil, wash off the excess soil, and allow them to dry.
New potatoes have soft skin, so handle with care to avoid bruising. Place the potatoes into brown paper bags or a cardboard box. Store in a cool, dry place.
Common Potato Diseases and Pests To Watch For
Potato plants are relatively hardy; however, all plants can be susceptible to disease or pests at some stage of their life cycle.
Colorado Potato Beetle
This beetle has a hard shell with alternating black and orange stripes on its back. It lays orange eggs on the underside of the leaves that will hatch into larvae.
The larvae and parent beetle cause prolific damage by chewing through the plant’s leaves.
Check the plant regularly and pick off any beetles as soon as they are seen.
Mix one tablespoon of neem oil (I use this one) with 2 cups of water in a recycled spray bottle and spray the potato plants regularly.
The oil provides a protective coating on the leaves, making them less tasty to the beetles and prevents the eggs from hatching properly.
Aphids are a common problem when growing indoor plants, and the indoor potato plant is no exception.
Aphids are small, soft-bodied bugs, often green in color but can also be gray, brown, and even pink.
They are sap suckers that cause the leaves to become discolored and curled as they eat the new shoots and flowers, killing the plant.
Checking the plant regularly will prevent infestations. Use a natural remedy to rid your plant of aphids.
Mix 1 quart of water, 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap in a spray bottle, and drench the leaves thoroughly.
This disease affects tubers and the entire plant. Dark brown blemishes appear on the surface of the potato.
Above the soil, the plant starts to wilt while the roots rot, causing poor plant health and unhealthy tuber production.
The best solution is prevention as currently, there are no chemical solutions to prevent or cure black dot.
Purchase quality seed potatoes from reputable nurseries, don’t delay harvesting, and store in cool, dry conditions.
Dark splotches can be seen on leaves and stems. White mold appears on leaf undersides when conditions are wet and humid, causing the plant to wither.
This disease also causes tubers to rot after harvesting while in storage.
A commercial fungicide may help control the disease but cannot cure or prevent it. Instead, purchase healthy seed potatoes and destroy any affected plants and tubers away from healthy plants.
Leaves develop a yellow hue and start to wilt, roll, or curl while developing brownish spots. It’s common for it to affect only one side of the plant.
Fungicides cannot cure the disease once it has taken hold, and tubers can remain infected. Expose seed tubers to 112℉ for 30 minutes to destroy the infection.
Prune dead and diseased branches, and destroy them away from healthy plants. Fertilize with a low-nitrogen, phosphorus-rich fertilizer.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Do Potatoes Take To Grow Indoors?
Generally, potato plants take between 90 and 120 days to reach maturity. However, those grown indoors may take longer to reach maturity.
You can help your indoor spuds keep up by chitting the seed potatoes. Place them in a bright but cool spot to encourage sprouting.
As soon as the plant develops flowers, the tubers are ready to be harvested.
Can You Grow Potatoes All Year Round?
Potatoes can easily be grown in greenhouses, polytunnels, and indoors throughout the year.
Grow lights may be needed to help with low light conditions in the winter, but even a sunny windowsill provides adequate heat and light required for the plant to flourish all year round.
How Many Potatoes Can One Plant Make?
If the potato plant receives the correct level of care, it can produce between five and 10 healthy tubers per plant. Of course, the yield also depends on the variety of potato plants you are growing.
Can You Grow Sweet Potatoes Indoors?
Sweet potatoes are easily grown indoors using a healthy sweet potato. Place the tuber in a jar of water with the top of the tuber above the water.
Place in direct light on a sunny windowsill and maintain a warm temperature of approximately 75℉.
After four weeks, leafy slips will start to sprout, which can be planted into containers once they have developed roots.
Can Potatoes Grow Without Sunlight?
Potatoes are happy to sprout in total darkness, but they need sunlight for photosynthesis and generate energy for growth.
Without sunlight, the potato tubers will not develop and overall poor plant health will be seen.
Can Potatoes Get Too Much Sun?
Overexposure to sunlight results in wilted and dried-up leaves, which causes leaf damage.
Subsequently, damaged leaves cannot provide nutrients for healthy tuber development resulting in discolored, watery tubers that are spongy to the touch.
This versatile herbaceous perennial produces the delicious potatoes we all know and love, and the great part is that it’s so easy to grow.
Full of healthy vitamins and high in potassium, copper, and magnesium, what’s not to love about the humble potato plant?
You don’t even need a huge garden or patio space to cultivate it.
Simply provide a bright, sunny spot near a kitchen window or tiny sheltered balcony, and your potato plants will happily thrive all year round.
We are confident you will have healthy tuber-sprouting potato plants all year round by following this guide.