How to Grow Potatoes in Bags or Containers in a Small Garden

Updated on June 8, 2020
viking305 profile image

L.M.Reid is an Irish writer who has published many articles. She is a keen gardener with plenty of experience.

How to grow potatoes in bags on a balcony or in the backyard
How to grow potatoes in bags on a balcony or in the backyard

Growing Potatoes in Bags and Containers

If you only have a small garden, like myself, you can still plant and enjoy a good potato crop. I show you each stage of planting, growing and harvesting potatoes. Step by step instructions with videos and photos. There are three distinct times to plant out your seed potatoes. I have outlined each one below.

Tips for Growing Early Seed Potatoes

Preparation of the seed potatoes a few weeks before you plant them out is essential for a good crop. You can plant early seed potatoes in containers in late February to March. Keep the tender shoots protected from frost by covering the soil with straw or a plastic sheet. These are the potato variety that I planted last year and I got a great crop from them.

Early potatoes grow quickly and you can harvest a nice crop in about eight weeks.
You will know it is nearly time to pick them when the flowers begin to bloom. Wait a couple of weeks and then lift the plants up out of the dirt to expose the new potatoes. Only harvest what you are going to eat for the next couple of days. The remainder left in the containers will still continue to grow.

When to plant  First Early Seed Potatoes
When to plant First Early Seed Potatoes | Source

Second Early Seed Potatoes

These can be planted from March to April. They will take more time to grow. They will be ready to be harvested in about fourteen to sixteen weeks. You will get a better yield from this crop.

Main Crop Seed Potatoes

You can plant these in April or early May. These will take the longest to grow. They take about eighteen to twenty weeks until they can be harvested. The main crop yields the largest amount of potatoes.

What Size Containers Can I Use?

The container should be at least fifteen to twenty inches in depth and a bit wider at least in width. A large bag will be these measurements in depth so the wider the bag, the more you can plant.

You have a choice of specially-made barrels, large pots, buckets, or even large supermarket bags. If this is your first time planting potatoes, I would recommend you find something already in your garden that you can use for free.

How do you Chit Seed Potatoes?
How do you Chit Seed Potatoes? | Source

Preparing the Seed Potatoes

When you buy seed potatoes, you will notice they have very small sprouts or eyes coming out of them. You want to encourage growth of these shoots before they are planted.

This Process Is Called Chitting

  1. Put them, with the eyes facing up, onto a plate or flat surface.
  2. Place them in a sunny, light, and warm place. If planting in February or March this might be indoors.
  3. It should take about four to six days for the shoots to grow.
  4. Use the best to plant out, those with at least two to three sprouts on them. This gives them a head start in the growing process once they are planted outside.

My potatoes growing in a bag
My potatoes growing in a bag | Source

How to Look After the Potatoes

For whatever container you are using, carry out the same steps:

  1. Make sure the containers you are using have good drainage.
  2. Add compost to fill a third of the container.
  3. How many potatoes you plant in each container depends on how large it is. Remember, you need to leave room for them to grow.
  4. Place the seed potato with the shoots facing up.
  5. Cover until only the shoots are above the compost.
  6. Water the pot to settle the plant.
  7. When the shoots are about ten inches high, add more compost.
  8. When they grow bigger, do the same again until there is no more room.
  9. Water when needed.

How to Plant and Grow Potatoes in Bags
How to Plant and Grow Potatoes in Bags | Source


You will know they are ready to harvest when the flowers have been blooming for a couple of weeks. You can test to see if they are at the size you want by gently removing some of the topsoil and having a look. Leave to grow to maturity and pick when ready.

My Potatoes I Grew in a Bag
My Potatoes I Grew in a Bag | Source

Have you grown your own potatoes before?

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Why You Should Buy Seed Potatoes

I did not want to spend money buying seed potatoes, so I took some from the bag I bought in the supermarket and used them. This is a common mistake a lot of people make.

My crop was not too bad as you can see from the photos, but there were not many to each bucket. It would have been more productive if I had bought the seed potatoes.

How to Grow Other Vegetables and Fruit

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

  • I have grown some potatoes from seed in bags and harvested them. However, I cannot tell at all which were the seed potatoes and which are the potatoes that have grown. I'm worried because all I read is that you should not eat seed potatoes. What can I do?

    All of the potatoes that you harvest are safe to eat. The seed potato has dissolved into the soil by the time you pick the newly grown potatoes.


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    • viking305 profile imageAUTHOR

      L M Reid 

      2 years ago from Ireland

      Hello Ella, thanks for dropping by.

      Nearly time to plant the seed potatoes. I am looking forward to another spring so I can spend lots of time in my vegetable garden.

    • profile image

      Ella Wilson 

      2 years ago

      Hi, LM! I have seen lots of blog post about growing potatoes in bags and your post is the one that got my attention. I love how you wrote the step by step process! Thanks for sharing this post!

    • viking305 profile imageAUTHOR

      L M Reid 

      4 years ago from Ireland

      Hello lrdl3535, Yes the small potatoes can be eaten and are delicious. The potatoes will become green if left uncovered by the soil which allows the light to get at them. You are correct green potatoes should never be eaten.

    • lrdl3535 profile image

      Richard Lindsay 

      4 years ago from California

      Hi, Great post on potatoes with lots of good information. But I have a question about digging up the potatoes. If you dig up the potatoes when they are small can you eat them? When do they become green and not edible?

    • viking305 profile imageAUTHOR

      L M Reid 

      6 years ago from Ireland

      My potatoes I planted this year are growing nicely. Thank you Maren for taking the time to leave a comment

    • Maren Morgan M-T profile image

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 

      6 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Great info!

    • viking305 profile imageAUTHOR

      L M Reid 

      6 years ago from Ireland

      Hello Phyllis. lol you will have an array of colour on your patio and be able to eat it. My seed potatoes are already on the table chitting so yes it is a good time to order now.

      The peppers grow just fine when you take a few seeds from any you have bought to eat in the grocery store. So there is no need to buy seeds specially for that. I will be writing an article about my peppers soon so you will be able to see how successful they grew from taking seeds this way.

      Good luck and here's to a bumper crop on your patio

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      6 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Greetings again, viking. Wow ! you are filling up my patio right quick and nicely. No, I have not tried peppers and I love them. So - now I will have potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers -- plus my herbs (rosemary, sage, basil and thyme). lol this is going to be a fun and productive summer for me thanks to you. I am anxious to get started now. I will check out your hub again, you did have an Amazon link for the seed potatoes, right? I had better order them very soon.

    • viking305 profile imageAUTHOR

      L M Reid 

      6 years ago from Ireland

      Hello Phyllis it sounds like you will have great growing conditions for tomatoes alright. Have you ever tried growing peppers on your patio, the sun will help them along nicely

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      6 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Yes, definitely tomatoes. I get about 5 hours of full sun, so will give it a try. Thanks.

    • viking305 profile imageAUTHOR

      L M Reid 

      6 years ago from Ireland

      Glad to be of some help syzgyastro. Yes I too made a mistake last year by planting out potatoes I had bought from a supermarket and not buying Seed Potatoes. They did produce a decent crop but not as much as I am hoping to get this year.

      Good luck with the growing of your Yams and Sweet Potatoes this year too.

    • viking305 profile imageAUTHOR

      L M Reid 

      6 years ago from Ireland

      Hello Phyllis I am delighted I have encouraged you to start growing vegetables again. If your patio gets lots of sun you could buy a couple of tomato plants and grow them too.

    • viking305 profile imageAUTHOR

      L M Reid 

      6 years ago from Ireland

      Hello lmoyer02 Yes I got the idea of adding some potato recipes to this article by reading what constitutes a Stella Hub in the Hubpages learning Centre.

      I have written an article about various ways to cook and eat potatoes at this link. The perfect Baked Potato recipe is there too.

    • syzygyastro profile image

      William J. Prest 

      6 years ago from Vancouver, Canada

      Thanks for all you input. I will be planting some this year. I now know what went wrong in some previous years and will do things as suggested. I will also be experimenting with yams and sweet potatoes which are an unknown for me.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      6 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      This is a really great and interesting hub. I have just a very small patio, but am going to try growing potatoes this year in a container. It has been a long time since I grew potatoes and that was in a large garden. Thanks for all the tips and instructions.

    • lmoyer92 profile image

      Leon Moyer 

      6 years ago

      Well written and helpful article. I like how you added potato recipes into the same hub describing how to grow them. Have any tips on making the perfect baked potato?


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