Top Tips for Growing Potatoes Indoors (Yes, you can!)

growing potatoes indoors

Learning how to grow potatoes indoors is becoming a wildly popular concept.

Potatoes are a great addition to any home garden, but if you live in an apartment or don’t have much space for gardening, they can be difficult to grow.

Luckily, potatoes are easy to grow indoors with the right tools and techniques!

To grow potatoes indoors you’ll need sprouted potatoes, a deep container with drainage holes, bright light, growing medium, water, and some patience.

That’s all it takes and voila! You’ll have your own crop right inside your house.

Potatoes are such a wonderfully nutritious and filling food. Research has shown that potatoes provide lots of fiber, potassium, minerals, vitamins, and more antioxidants than broccoli, tomatoes or cabbage.  They also rank at the top of the list of foods that provide the greatest satiety. That means you get filled up AND you get deeply nourished.

How to Start Potatoes Indoors

The best way to start potatoes indoors is to begin with good heirloom seed potatoes that have grown eyes (sprouts).

Once the eyes have developed, you can plant the potato whole but you can also cut the potato into sections, so more plants will form. Each section should include at least two eyes.

Eyes are where the stems develop. The eyes will develop buds and then sprout. The longer the sprouts are when planted, the faster the growth will be.  The more eyes there are the more vines will grow.

growing potatoes indoors eyes
Potato eyes sprouted on a potato.

You can plant the entire potato, but there will be more vines and therefore more potatoes if you cut the potatoes into smaller sections. Be sure each section has two eyes and plant it just like you would a whole potato.

There is one thing to watch out for. Those raw places where you cut the potato open are like wounds. They need to grow a scab or callous over the wound before placing them into the dirt or they will start to rot.

So let the pieces sit out for a couple of days. Wait till you get a leathery feeling surface over that area before you plant it in the soil.

>>> Allow raw wounds of potato to scab or callous before planting in soil. This prevents rot. <<<

How to Get Potatoes to Sprout Eyes

If you’ve ever wondered if you can sprout potatoes from potatoes, the answer is yes!

You’ve probably noticed that if you buy potatoes and don’t use them quickly enough, they start to sprout on their own. That works for sprouting, but you can also speed up potato sprouting by doing a couple of things.

To get potatoes to sprout the quickest, leave them near a window (not in direct sunlight), until they form eyes. This is also called chitting and should take a few days.

Eyes are where all the development comes from. Eyes develop buds and then sprout. The more eyes there are the more vines will grow.

How to Care for Your Potato Plants

The main requirements of your indoor potato plants are that you choose healthy seed potatoes, plant them far enough apart so they have room to grow, and plant them in a container with at least 2.5 gallons of growing medium.

Provide them with a nutrient-dense and moist growing medium, regularly hill them up so the developing tubers are kept covered and provide plenty of bright light to help them grow up strong and healthy.

Potatoes thrive best in dark soil with moist conditions (like those found underground).

>>> Feeding your indoor potato plants is especially necessary if you have planted them in a growing medium that has no nutrients like coco coir and perlite. If that’s the case, you can add a small amount of bone meal, seaweed, or other organic plant food diluted in water to the soil.

>>> Hilling your indoor potato plants is the same as the process that happens with potatoes planted outside. The developing potatoes must stay underground and to do that we hill them.

Once the young plants grow to 6-8 inches high, you can pile soil around them all the way up to the top leaves. You may do this again when the stems are another 6 inches along in their growth.

It’s important to keep plenty of soil there for the new potatoes to grow into. You can also hill up with straw or other forms of mulch as long as it is applied in a thick layer that will keep out the light. If the newly forming tubers are exposed to light they will turn green and will be ruined.

RECAP:

1 | Choose healthy seedlings.

2 |  Plant with plenty of space between seedlings, in 2.5 gallons of planting medium.

3 |  Hill seedlings so tubers are covered.

4 |  Provide plenty of bright light.  

How much water do potatoes need?

Potatoes need to be kept evenly moist throughout their growing process. If you’ve ever wrung out a sponge and held it in your hand, you know exactly how wet the soil needs to be to grow potatoes.

They need more water when they are actually putting out new tubers. This happens between 30-70 days into the vegetative growth cycle and you will know it’s happening when the flowers open fully and for about two weeks afterward.

You can definitely stop watering when the plants begin to die back.

When to Harvest Potatoes

You’ll know your potatoes are nearly ready when the plants begin to yellow and die. You can harvest them then for smaller potatoes.

But if you can wait two to three weeks after the vines die, you can harvest very mature tubers which are much larger. So you may want to practice a bit of patience.

The way to harvest your crop is to turn over the container in which they’ve been growing and gently dump the contents out onto the floor or ground.

If you want to avoid a mess, dump the contents of the container onto a tarp. Use your hands to pull the dirt away from the plant and sift through it for tubers.

It’s easy to miss part of your crop, so take your time and look through the soil thoroughly.

You can leave your potatoes out for a few hours to cure.

Once harvested, keep the potatoes in a dark and dry place until it is time to eat. If stored correctly, these plants will stay fresh for about four months.

Growing Potatoes Indoors in Containers or Bags

You can grow potatoes indoors in various types of hard-sided containers. You can use any plastic or clay pots as long as they have drainage holes.

Other containers that are commonly used are rubber or plastic bins, pails sold with kitty litter inside, tall laundry baskets, large garbage cans, burlap bags, and food-grade barrels.

You can also grow potatoes indoors in bags. The benefit to growing potatoes in bags is that you can roll the sides of the bag down at the beginning.

As the plants progress and it’s time for hilling, just roll the side of the bag up to create higher walls and add more growing medium to cover the developing potatoes.

Growing Potatoes Indoors Hydroponically

You may be wondering whether it’s possible to grow your indoor potatoes hydroponically. It is certainly possible. Growing this way means you are not using soil as your growing medium.

In one experiment the growers tried three different growing mediums–peat, perlite, and coco coir. The coco coir turned out to be the best and cleanest growing medium. The potatoes grown this way were so perfect, they looked ready to go into the pot to cook without even a rinse.

So if you have the urge to grow your potatoes hydroponically, give it a try.

Growing root vegetables this way has to be one of the most interesting ways to grow with this method.

Growing Potatoes Indoors Under Lights

Indoor grow lights are a good idea if you’re trying to grow potato plants indoors. It is not completely necessary, since they can grow under a bright window. But your potatoes are likely to grow much easier and produce more new potatoes if they aren’t straining to get to the light.

Try to use a bright, full spectrum grow light, and place it directly above the plants if possible.

If you’re setting up a DIY system, you might try using regular shop lights with fluorescent bulbs and hang them in such a way that they can be adjusted to meet the demands of the growing plants. This is one way that indoor gardeners can save themselves money.

How to Grow Potatoes Indoors FAQs

How long do potatoes take to grow?

It usually takes anywhere from 80-100 days to grow fully mature potatoes. But if you just want to harvest them as early as possible, you can start harvesting at ten weeks.

How many potatoes per plant?

How many potatoes are produced by each plant depends on all those growth factors like the amount of light they receive every day, the amount of moisture they are getting, and whether they are stressed or happy. But in general,  you should be able to get 6-10 potatoes from each one you plant.

Can you plant potatoes bought in the store and expect them to grow? 

Yes, if you buy organic potatoes they will not have any sort of growth inhibitor applied to them, which means you can plant them and expect to grow new potatoes. But the absolute most reliable way to go is to purchase USDA Certified Seed Stock potatoes from a reputable dealer. Be sure to order early since it’s possible for the sellers to run out early in the season.