Tips for Planting Potatoes

Potatoes are versatile and popular food that can be grown in the home garden as long as proper conditions are met. Potatoes are a cool-season plant. They grow best when soil temperatures are between 60 degrees and 70 degrees F, according to the University of Illinois Extension. When soil temperatures exceed 80 degrees F, the tubers will not grow. Unlike many other vegetable, potatoes do not grow from true seeds. Instead, seed pieces produce potatoes.

Soil Requirements

Potatoes prefer an acidic soil with a pH between 5 and 6, according to the University of Florida IFAS Extension. A loose, well-drained soil heavy in organic matter is best. Add organic matter to your soil if drainage is a problem. Avoid using manure to increase drainage because the potatoes are more likely to develop scab, according to the Ohio State University Extension.


Because potatoes are cool-season vegetables, they are among the first crops that can be planted each spring. Plant in late March or early April. Planting too early--when the soil is damp and cold--can cause the seed pieces to rot, according to the University of Illinois Extension. In warmer climates, grow potatoes in the fall and winter; soil temperatures are more suitable at this time. Plant the seed pieces in trenches between 3 1/2 and 4 1/2 inches deep and covere with 1 to 2 inches of soil, according to the Ohio State University Extension. Space plants 9 to 12 inches apart, and space rows 28 to 34 inches apart.


Potatoes need uniform moisture in the soil to grow and thrive. If soil is allowed to dry out between waterings, knobby growths may appear on the potatoes, according to the University of Illinois Extension. Once the potato plants begin to grow and have emerged from the soil, apply mulch to the bed to help conserve moisture and keep the soil cool. When the plants reach a height of 6 to 8 inches, build a hill or ridge around the plants. The process, called "hilling up," prevents shallow tubers from turning green, according to the Ohio State University Extension. To form the hill, mound soil around the plants. Continue mounding the soil as the plants grow. The hills should be between 4 and 5 inches tall when the plants are between 15 and 18 inches tall.

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About this Author

Meghan McMahon lives in the Chicago suburbs, where she spent six years as a newspaper journalist before becoming a part-time freelance writer and editor and full-time mother. She received a bachelor's degree in journalism from Eastern Illinois University in 2000 and has written for "The Daily Southtown" and "The Naperville Sun" in suburban Chicago.