How to Buy Potato Plants

Overview

A visit to the garden center in the spring affords you the chance to see a wide array of seedling vegetables to buy and transplant into your home garden. Chances are you will never encounter a tray of young potato plants, however. With delicate roots and stems that don't transplant efficiently, potato plants are purchased in their dormant tuber forms--small golf ball-size tubers called "seed potatoes." Not seeds but a small root that will sprout to create a plant, these "seeds" can be planted in your garden. Plant seed potatoes 3 to 4 inches deep in a fertile, well-draining soil.

Step 1

Ask at a local garden center if seed potatoes will be for sale. Do this in early spring. If the response is yes, find out when they'll be available for purchase. If the answer is no, ask for a referral to a nearby seed potato source.

Step 2

Return to the garden center when the seed potatoes are in stock. Usually they are available and ready for immediate planting within one month of the expected last spring frost date, when soil temperatures are about 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 3

Examine the seed potatoes for quality and type. Each variety of potato, such as Kennebec or Pontiac, grows from small tubers of the same genetic lineage. Look for labels stating that the seed potatoes are "certified disease-free."

Step 4

Touch the seed potatoes to see if they are smooth and firm, and that they haven't shriveled or rotted in their storage bins or bags.

Step 5

Plan to place 2 to 3 seed potatoes in each shallow furrow or hill in your garden plot. About 10 lbs of seed potatoes will plant a row of hills about 100 feet in length. Also consider that 10 lbs. of seed potatoes will produce enough plants that will yield about 150 lbs. of potato tubers at fall harvest time.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid bruising the seed potatoes. Bruising can diminish germination or vigor of the young potato plants that emerge from the soil. Plant seed potatoes no deeper than 4 inches. Avoid wet, soggy soils.

References

  • The Ohio State University: Growing Potatoes in the Home Garden
  • Ed Hume Seeds: Potatoes are Easy to Grow Vegetables
  • North Dakota State University: Guidelines for Seed Potato Selection, Handling and Planting
Keywords: growing potatoes, seed potatoes, potato plants

About this Author

James Burghardt has written for "The Public Garden," "Docent Educator," nonprofit newsletters and for horticultural databases, becoming a full-time writer in 2008. He's gardened and worked professionally at public and private gardens in Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. He has written articles for eHow and GardenGuides.