How to grow potatoes in containers, bags, pots, gallon buckets, & DIY wood planters. Best tips & ideas to plant small garden for big harvest!
It is really easy and rewarding to grow potatoes in containers & bags! In a small space garden, you can grow 100 lbs of potatoes in pots in just 10 square feet.
I am excited to share with you the best tips from some of my favorite gardeners on potato growing in pots and planters.
We will look at lots of great ideas on choosing the best potato planters, making your own potato grow bags, mixing good soil & fertilizers, planting, watering, & harvesting.
What are the best containers to grow potatoes?
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There are many kinds of potato planters such as fabric bags, plastic pots, buckets, wood planters, and potato towers. Let’s look at which ones are the best, and which ones are the worst!
Based on the experience from lots of gardeners, the best planters for growing potatoes are 10 gallon (30 liter) size pots or bags. They give you the perfect balance of maximum harvest with minimum amount of space and soil needed.
You can also plant potatoes in 5 gallon buckets with drain holes, 7 to 15 gallon bags and pots, which are all easy to find.
If you are wondering about planting potatoes in stacked rubber tires, I would NOT do it, because tires contain lots of chemicals that could be harmful for growing edibles!
Another great option for planting potatoes in small gardens is to use wooden box planters aka raised beds, like here by Garden Matter on YouTube. Check out the harvest in video below!
There are many easy and attractive raised planters you can build! Here’s a great selection of 28 best DIY raised bed gardens you can build!
The worst kind of potato planters are …
Potato towers! In fact, we wrote an article on why potato towers don’t work, so you won’t waste an entire season like many of us did!
How deep should I plant potatoes in containers or bags?
The ideal depth of potato planters and pots should be 12 inches to 16 inches. Burying your seed potatoes too deep, or mounting too much soil on the stems will not increase production, and may have the reverse effect, as explained in our article : why potato towers don’t work!
How many potatoes can I plant in a pot or a bag?
How many potatoes can I grow in a 5 gallon bucket or 10 gallon pot?
You will be able to grow 8 to 12 potatoes from each seed potato with good soil and growing conditions. Fingerling potatoes are even more productive.
Some gardeners like to create an inner pot like this, so they can see how the potatoes growing in buckets.
How to grow potatoes in containers
You can grow potatoes in containers from store bought potatoes. The key is to buy organic potatoes that are free of growth inhibitors and use a good organic fertilizer.
There are also many benefits to buying seed potatoes: they are disease resistant, and come in hundreds of great varieties.
You can speed up the growing time by sprouting (aka chitting) potatoes in a bright warm place away from direct sun, a 2-3 weeks before planting time. The lower example is better, because you don’t want too many leggy sprouts on the seed potatoes!
In mild winter climates, potatoes can be grown as a fall crop in September and spring crop from January through April.
In cold winter climates, plant potatoes in April, about 6 weeks before the last frost date.
Tony is one of my favorite gardeners on YouTube. He grew 235 lbs Of potatoes in 10 gallon pots in just 200 square foot!
Potatoes need full sun to grow well. The best soil to grow potatoes should be loose, well draining, and contains lots of organic matter such as compost that holds moisture well.
Mix some good organic fertilizers into the soil at planting time. When choosing fertilizer for potatoes, look at the 3 numbers which indicate nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium. Select a fertilizer or mix that is balanced in these 3 essential nutrients.
Plant 2 to 4 potatoes in each 10 gallon pot or bag at a depth of 6 to 8 inches, and add a 2 to 3” layer of straw or mulch on top to help retain moisture in the soil. Image above: potatoes in grow bags via the.plotthickens.
If you live in a windy area, it’s a good idea to support your potato plants with trellis or tomato cages to protect the tender stems like here by goexplorechilterns.
How often do you water potatoes in a bucket or a bag?
Do not let the soil dry out when growing potatoes. During hot and dry summer days, potato plants should be watered once every 2 to 3 days.
During cooler days with rainfall, potatoes may not need watering at all.
Another thing to consider is the type of planter you are using. Plastic pots, buckets, and larger containers retain moisture longer than fabric bags, wood planters, and smaller containers.
Even plastic shopping bags can help conserve moisture and give you sneak peeks of the new potatoes! Tutorial by HGV on Youtube.
Should I hill the potatoes planted in pots?
It depends on how deep you planted the seed potatoes. As shown here by Allotment Diary on Youtube (video below), you don’t need big or deep pots to get a huge harvest. The 12″ deep 10 gallon pots are great for growing potatoes.
If the seed potatoes are planted at 6” to 8” deep, a 2” to 3” straw mulch layer should be enough. No need to mound on the stems.
The popular potato tower idea is based on the assumption that the more soil or mulch you hill / mound around the potato stems, the more potatoes will grow from the stems.
This practice actually can reduce productivity. Rob at Plan Garden documented how they were disappointed by the potato tower harvest: “Planting about 3 lbs yielded a little over 10 lbs.”
Read more here about why potato towers don’t work!
The same goes when you make potato planter boxes from wood. There’s no need to make them more than 2′ tall. In fact 12″ to 16″ tall planters are great for growing potatoes! DIY potato planters above by Reuse Grow Enjoy, and below by Craft Thyme.
When to harvest potatoes?
Potatoes are ready for harvesting when more than 50% of the leaves have turned yellow.
You can eat the fresh dug potatoes right away – YUM, or get them ready for longer storage. Check out this guide on how to harvest, cure and store your potatoes.