how to grow potatoes in bags

How to Grow Potatoes in Bags [Potato Growing in Bags]

Whether you’re a beginner vegetable gardener or not, its always wise to not make work for yourself.  Making vegetable growing easier means that you’re more inclined to do more of it.  And that’s the major reason we grow potatoes in bags. For the primary reason that it’s just so easy.  Growing potatoes in bags is often seen as the way to get around not having much space (and that’s one reason for growing potatoes in bags), but there are several other benefits that you’ll get by growing potatoes this way.  So, in this article, we’ll cover how to grow potatoes in bags, why we think growing potatoes in bags is the best and what you need to look out for too.

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Most people will start growing potatoes in bags because they don’t have much space.  We did this.  We bought three potato grow bags and grew potatoes in the bag yard in our first year.  Not only is it manageable to grow potatoes in bags in a yard, but you can also do it on a balcony or terrace too.  Growing potatoes in bags also makes them less susceptible to disease and pests as you’re keeping them away from environments that might have disease or pests and you’re also keeping the potato plants separate.  Opting to grow potatoes in bags means that you have a much better chance of success and that’s why we recommend it.

What to Buy to Grow Potatoes in Bags

Growing potatoes in bags is simple, you just need three things

  • Seed Potatoes
  • Compost
  • Potato Grow Bags

Buying Seed Potatoes

Potato plants grow from what’s called “seed potatoes”.  A seed potato is one that’s been grown in order to be replanted and produce a potato plant.   Potatoes are “tubers” – so they store energy to regrow the following season.  Tubers start to sprout growth from parts of the potato called “eyes”.  You’ve probably seen them on potatoes that you leave for too long in the pantry or fridge.

We do NOT recommend that you use these leftover potatoes in your potato grow bags as they can be contaminated with blight or viral diseases.  Seed potatoes sold in the UK are guaranteed to be free from blight and disease. 

You can buy seed potatoes from around January to April – or order them ahead of time.  You’ll want to put 3-4 seed potatoes in each potato grow bag that you buy.

Here are our favourite seed potatoes to grow in bags

First Early Seed Potatoes to Grow in Bags

  • Potato Arran Pilot: Excellent new potato or salad potato, resistant to scab and a traditional favourite. > Buy Arran Pilot Potatoes here
  • Potato Rocket: Easy to grow and perfect for growing in bags and containers this is a heavy cropper and is quick to grow baby new potatoes. > Buy Rocket Potatoes here

Second Early Seed Potatoes to Grow in Bags

  • Potato Charlotte: a reliable variety and a great tasting salad potato – excellent both hot and cold. > Buy Charlotte Potatoes here
  • Potato Jazzy: This fabulous salad potato is guaranteed by Thompson Morgan to produce 35 potatoes per plant when grown in an 8-litre bag, however, it is reported to produce up to 80 potatoes per plant. > Buy Jazzy Potatoes here

Maincrop Seed Potatoes to Grow in Bags

Second Cropping Seed Potatoes to Grow in Bags

  • Maris Peer Potatoes: These potatoes are ideal for growing in bags for harvesting in autumn and winter. > Buy Maris Peer Potatoes here.
  • Nicola Potato: Easy to grow in potato growing bags in the greenhouse or under cover and fabulous to eat for Christmas dinner. > Buy Nicola Potatoes here

Buying the best bags for growing potatoes

And of course, you need a bag in which to grow your potatoes.  So here are the details of those bags quickly.  They need to have drainage, you’ll likely want a viewing and harvesting flap and yes at a push you can use a regular grow bag, but remember it needs drainage and how hard will it be to harvest?

We’ve written about the best potato grow bags to use, so click here to read that guide, or here’s a synopsis of them

Potato Grow BagsHighlightsWhat It Looks LikeRead Reviews & Buy Now!
Laxillent 33 litre / 9 Gallon Potato Grow Bag• Eco-friendly fabric
• Only 200 grams in weight
• Two Handles
• Visualization Window
• Reinforced drainage holes at the bottom
• Service life of 7 years
• Pack include FOUR potato grow bags
• Size: 33-centimetre height by 33-centimetre diameter
Read reviews and buy now
Best non-woven Potato Grow Bag• 10 gallon in size / 37 litres
• Visualization window and flap
• Reinforced handles for ease of moving
• Made of high-quality non-woven fabric
• Size: 29 x 24 x 4 centimetres
• Comes in a pack of two potato grow bags
Buy best non-woven potato grow bags
Best 360 degree view potato grow bags• 37 litre / 10 gallon bags
• Each bag weighs 400 grams
• Comes in a pack of 2
• Sturdy reinforced handles
• Velcro flap for harvesting
• 360 degree view of potatoes
Buy 360 degree view potato grow bags
Best Felt Potato Grow Bags• 37 litre / 10 gallon bags
• Each bag weighs 400 grams
• Comes in a pack of 3
• Superior moisture retention
• Superior air circulation
• Stursy reined handles
• Velcro window and flap
Buy the best felt potato grow bags now

Buying Compost for Growing Potatoes

You can, of course, use soil from the garden if you have one, but you’ll want to make sure it’s in good growing condition.  (There’s a reason long term gardeners fertilize their gardens with manure and other organic matter!).  The better the condition of your compost or soil the better your potatoes will be.

We recommend these composts for growing potatoes (or you can read our guide to the best composts which goes into WAY more detail here)

Type of CompostWhat It Looks LikeBest forRead Reviews & Buy Now!
Best Multi Purpose Compost• Grows plants twice as big (compared with ordinary garden soil)
• Feeds for up to six months
• Ideal for growing plants, fruit and vegetables
• Provides optimum balance of air and water for strong roots and healthier plants through the patented Fibre Smart technology with 100 percent natural hollow wood fibres
• Ideal for use in beds, borders, hanging baskets, pots and containers
Buy the best multi-purpose compost here.
Best Organic Compost• Key features Ideal for seed sowing, cuttings and propagation
• Certified seed compost 100% peat-free Insulation properties of coir
• Encourages quick germination and fast root growth
• Soil Association permitted product
• Contains certified organic coir
• Germination trials on every batch
• No green waste
Get prices for the best organic compost here
Best Peat Free Compost• 100% sustainable, natural & peat-free compost
• Specially blended for all types of plants
• Base fertiliser - Feeds plants for up to 6 weeks
• Ideal for seeds, containers, fruit & vegetables
• BIO3 formulation with No Green Waste
Buy the best peat free compost here
Best Mushroom Compost• This 100% soil conditioner actually adds humus and plant food to the soil.
• This benefit improves yields tremendously.
• The formula also works by breaking down the heavy clay and improving the capacity of light sandy soil.
• Made from 100% organic products your crops will have the best growing conditions
Buy the best mushroom compost here
Best Loam Based Compost• Brand: J Arthur Bower's
• Usage: Mature plants, patio areas and final re potting of tomatoes.
• Volume: 25L
• High nutrient formula
• Traditional loam based compost with limestone and grit sand
Buy the best loam based compost

The steps to growing potatoes

Growing potatoes is easy, there are a few simple steps to take.  And we’ll cover each of them in-depth here.

  1. Buying seed potatoes
  2. Buying potato grow bags
  3. Chitting potatoes
  4. Planting chitted potatoes in bags
  5. Feeding and care of potatoes grown in bags
  6. Harvesting potatoes in bags
  7. Storing potatoes

Buying Seed Potatoes

The easiest way to buy seed potatoes to grow in bags is to order them online and have them delivered from a reputable supplier.  Potatoes are grown at various times of the year and are named for the time of year that you harvest them.

  • First, early potatoes are planted from the end of Feb until late May – harvest 10 weeks later
  • Second early potatoes are planted from March to late May – harvest 13 weeks later
  • Maincrop potatoes are planted from March until mid-May – harvest 20 weeks later
  • Second crop potatoes are planted in August – harvest 11 weeks later – in time for Christmas!

Best First Early Potatoes to Grow in Bags

Plant first early potatoes from the end of February until late May and harvest them 10 weeks later. Try these varieties of first early potatoes in potato grow bags.

  • Potato Arran Pilot: Excellent new potato or salad potato, resistant to scab and a traditional favourite. > Buy Arran Pilot Potatoes here
  • Potato Rocket: Easy to grow and perfect for growing in bags and containers this is a heavy cropper and is quick to grow baby new potatoes. > Buy Rocket Potatoes here

Best Second Early Potatoes to Grow in Bags

Plant second early potatoes from March to late May, you can harvest second early potatoes in about 13 weeks. These are excellent varieties of second early potatoes for potato grow bags.

  • Potato Charlotte: a reliable variety and a great tasting salad potato – excellent both hot and cold. > Buy Charlotte Potatoes here
  • Potato Jazzy: This fabulous salad potato is guaranteed by Thompson Morgan to produce 35 potatoes per plant when grown in an 8-litre bag, however, it is reported to produce up to 80 potatoes per plant. > Buy Jazzy Potatoes here

Best Maincrop Potatoes to Grow in Bags

Plant your maincrop potatoes from March until mid-May.  Maincrop potatoes will be ready for harvesting in around 20 weeks.  Buy these maincrop potatoes for growing in potato grow bags.

Best Second Cropping Potatoes to Grow in Bags

Second crop potatoes can be planted in potato grow bags in August, they will be ready for harvesting 11 weeks later.   Buy these second cropping potatoes and harvest them in time for Christmas!

  • Maris Peer Potatoes: These potatoes are ideal for growing in bags for harvesting in autumn and winter. > Buy Maris Peer Potatoes here.
  • Nicola Potato: Easy to grow in potato growing bags in the greenhouse or under cover and fabulous to eat for Christmas dinner. > Buy Nicola Potatoes here

Chitting Potatoes

Chitting is simply another word for sprouting.  The word chit comes from an old English term for “small sprout”, its also been used for the “young of an animal” and has even been used to describe insolent young girls since the 17th century.

If you sprout or chit your potatoes before planting then you’re giving them the best chance to grow faster and crop more heavily (and we’re all for that!!).  First early and second early potatoes particularly benefit from chitting.  Really, I think that you’re letting the new plants establish somewhat before planting them.  You don’t need to chit second crop potatoes, you can plant them straight away.

Chitting potatoes is easy.

You’ll need a cool, but bright location that is frost-free, about 10 degrees C is good.  Old cardboard egg boxes are great holders for your chitting potatoes.  When your seed potatoes arrive they’ll be about the size of an egg, so it works.  (if they’re smaller or larger, don’t worry).    Sprouts will start from one end of the potato.  This is called the rose end.  Your seed potatoes will be ready when theses sprouts get to be 2.5 centimetres long.  Always plant with the sprout or rose end up.

how to chit potatoes

Planting Your Chitted Potatoes in Bags

You can do this one of two ways, both work. 

The traditional way to plant potatoes is a similar fashion to how you plant and grow potatoes in the ground. 

  1. You’ll want 3-4 chitted seed potatoes for each potato grow bag
  2. Quarter to one-third fill a potato grow bag with compost
  3. Roll down the bag to its just to the top of the compost
  4. Place the seed potatoes in the compost and cover with more compost.
  5. Youll need just enough compost to cover the tops of the tubers.
  6. As the potatoes grow, you’ll want to keep adding compost to cover them over.
  7. Roll up the potato grow bag as you add more soil
  8. Your aim is to protect the potatoes from sunlight, which turns them green and makes them inedible.
  9. Once the compost has got to the top of the bag you can allow the potatoes to flower and then die back
how to grow potatoes in bags

The newer, but equally effective way of growing potatoes in bags is simpler.

  1.  Fill your potato grow bag with good quality compost to about 3-5 centimetres below the top.
  2. Push your chitted potato tubers into the compost with the shoots or rose end pointing upwards.  You’ll want to get each tuber to about 12 centimetres below the surface.  Make sure that they’re all covered with compost.
  3. Be sure to not break off the sprouts, otherwise, your potato plants won’t grow

Looking after and feeding your potatoes

Your potato grow bag should be positioned in a frost-free, bright position.  (Grow bags with handles are awesome as it means you can move them around more easily!).  We recommend that you water the bags whenever the compost shows signs of drying out.  Do NOT overwater or you’ll rot your potatoes.  Make sure that there is proper drainage.

Potato plants are generally productive.  We recommend using good compost and feeding them every two weeks.  However, we have grown potatoes without feeding them and experience good harvests.  We’ve also successfully used specific potato fertilizers (try this one ) and tomato food (our standby is always this for any vegetable plant).

Harvesting Potatoes

When the leaves start to yellow and the stems wilt on your potato plants then you should stop watering the plants.  About 10 days after this your potatoes should be ready to harvest.

  • New potatoes take about 10 weeks from planting
  • Maincrop potatoes take about 20 weeks from planting
  • Second crop potatoes will usually be ready from the end of November, but you can leave them in the compost until Christmas.

If you’ve bought a potato grow bag with a window or a flap you’ll be able to see the size of the potatoes quite easily. 

Storing Potatoes

The best place to store potatoes is in the soil, we love leaving them there and digging them or pulling them out when we are ready to eat them.  However it’s not always appropriate, so once you’ve harvested your potatoes you’ll want to let them dry for a few hours.  This will “cure” the potato skin.

Once your homegrown potatoes have dried store them in paper or hessian sacks.  You’ll need to put them somewhere dark, frost-free and cool.  Do NOT use polythene bags as this will make your potatoes sweat and rot.

How to Plant Potatoes in Bags

We wrote earlier that there are two ways in which to plant potatoes in bags (see above).  Both are effective.  We prefer the traditional method, which I’ll outline again here.  We prefer this method, which is often called “earthing up” when you grow potatoes in the ground, as you’re less likely to break the sprouts doing it this way.  And I also like to feel as though I’m doing something other than planting the tubers and ignoring them for 3 months or longer!

This is the traditional way to plant potatoes in bags.

  • You’ll want 3-4 chitted seed potatoes for each potato grow bag
  • Quarter to one-third fill a potato grow bag with compost
  • Roll down the bag to its just to the top of the compost
  • Place the seed potatoes in the compost and cover with more compost.
  • You’ll need just enough compost to cover the tops of the tubers.
  • As the potatoes grow, you’ll want to keep adding compost to cover them over.
  • Roll up the potato grow bag as you add more soil
  • Your aim is to protect the potatoes from sunlight, which turns them green and makes them inedible.
  • Once the compost has got to the top of the bag you can allow the potatoes to flower and then die back
growing potatoes in bags

When to Plant Potatoes in Bags

When you plant potatoes in bags depends on the season and the type of potatoes that you are growing.  Generally

  • First early potatoes are planted from the end of Feb until late May
  • Second early potatoes are planted from March to late May
  • Maincrop potatoes are planted from March until mid-May
  • Second crop potatoes are planted in August

When to Harvest Potatoes in Bags

As a rule of thumb when you harvest potatoes depends on what type, when you planted them and how big you want the potatoes.

  • First early potatoes are harvested 10 weeks after planting
  • Second early potatoes are harvested 13 weeks after planting
  • Maincrop potatoes are harvested 20 weeks after planting
  • Second crop potatoes are harvested 11 weeks after planting

FAQS on how to Grow Potatoes in Bags

Got questions about growing potatoes in bags? Or want to know something specific about how to grow potatoes and we haven’t answered your questions?  Check out our frequently asked questions about growing potatoes below, or ask us yours in the comments.

How many potatoes can I grow in a bag?

We recommend planting 3-4 seed potatoes in a 9-10 gallon potato grow bag. There’s more on potato grow bags here

How many potatoes will one plant produce?

The number of potatoes each plant produces will depend on the variety. Some potato plants such as the Potato Jazzy guarantee 35 potatoes per plant, but have been known to produce up to 80.

What is chitting potatoes?

Chitting is another word for sprouting.  Chitting potatoes means encouraging seed potatoes to sprout before they are planted into the compost or soil.  It helps with growth and with yield.

Is chitting necessary?

No. Chitting isn’t necessary at all. However, if you chit your potatoes before planting them they will have a head start on growth and with the number of baby potatoes that they produce.

When should I start chitting potatoes?

Start chitting your potatoes 4 to 6 weeks before you plant them.  Depending on what type of potatoes you are growing this will be at different times of the year.

  • First early potatoes should be chitted from early to mid-January and planted from the end of Feb until late May
  • Second early potatoes should be chitted from mid to end January and planted from March to late May
  • Maincrop potatoes should be chitted from the end of January and planted from March until mid-May.  It’s not always necessary to chit maincrop potatoes though, check details on the variety that you are growing
  • Second crop potatoes are planted in August.  It’s not necessary to chit second crop potatoes.

How long do potatoes take to chit?

Potatoes will take from 4 to 6 weeks to chit properly. 

What temperature do you chit potatoes at?

The best temperature for chitting potatoes is from 7 celsius to 15 celsius – which means that a double-glazed windowsill with no direct sunlight is perfect.

Do you chit potatoes in light or dark?

Potatoes are best chitted in the light.  You can chit potatoes in low light or dark, but the sprouts will tend to be spindly, long and easy to break off.  We don’t recommend chitting potatoes in the dark.

Can I grow potatoes from potatoes?

Yes.  You can grow potatoes from potatoes – however, we don’t recommend using potatoes from the supermarket.  Seed potatoes from reputable suppliers (we recommend Thompson Morgan ) are guaranteed not to be free from blight and disease.

Final Words on How to Grow Potatoes in Bags

Using bags to grow potatoes in makes for less work and more enjoyment in my opinion. Not only does growing potatoes in bags mean that you can do it just about anywhere with outside space, but it also means that you can grow potatoes in a very small space.    We like that growing potatoes in bags gives us a really easy opportunity to grow different varieties and to manage their environment carefully.  It’s easier, in our opinion to have more success growing potatoes in bags than by starting growing potatoes in the ground, and we’re all about making it easy!

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