How to Start Potato Plants

Overview

Since their use began in ancient Peru, potatoes have been cultivated for food. They are now grown commercially around the world and find their way into the home garden. The plants can be started from seeding stock. This is not actually the seed but a portion of the potato tuber with the typical "eyes" or sprout points on them. The potatoes are cut to a reasonable size for planting, and the cut edges are allowed to dry. This seeding stock is also treated with an antifungal agent to prevent rotting. Raising potatoes is relatively easy, given the right growing conditions.

Step 1

Obtain potato seed pieces from a reliable garden center or seed supplier. Plant them soon after they are cut.

Step 2

Check the size to make sure each seed piece is around 1 1/2 to 2 ounces. Reject any that are smaller. Ensure that each seed piece has at least one eye on it to promote proper sprouting of the plant.

Step 3

Dig furrows in well-draining soil using the hoe. Make each furrow around 2 inches deep, and place them 24 to 36 inches apart to allow for proper leaf growth.

Step 4

Place the seed pieces 10 to 12 inches apart in the furrows, and cover them with soil. Water the potato seed pieces thoroughly. Cover the new plantings with black plastic sheeting to help warm the soil if the weather is still cool.

Step 5

Water the seed pieces regularly to keep the soil moist. Once the sprouts begin to appear, water regularly until the plants are well established.

Step 6

Start to build up the soil around the plant with a hoe once the potato sprouts have broken the surface. Do this several times during the early growth of the plant. This prevents potato tubers from getting sunburned. Mulch the plants to conserve moisture and keep weeds down.

Things You'll Need

  • Potato seed pieces
  • Hoe
  • Black plastic sheeting (optional)
  • Mulch

References

  • University of Illinois Extension: Potato
  • Ohio State University Extension: Growing Potatoes in the Garden
Keywords: start potatoes, plant potatoes, seed potato pieces

About this Author

Located in Jacksonville, Fla, Frank Whittemore has been a writer and content strategist for over 15 years, providing corporate communications services to Fortune 500 companies. Whittemore writes on topics that stem from his fascination with nature, the environment, science, medicine and technology.