A guide to potato grow bags for new gardeners

Potato grow bags are one of the best (and easiest) ways to grow potatoes in your garden. But there are a few tips for planting and growing these yummy veggies!

Potato grow bags are 5-20 gallon fabric bags built specifically for growing potatoes. Some are made of non-woven geotextile while others are a plastic tarp-like material with metal grommets for drainage holes. Some have little trapdoors for harvesting. Seed potatoes are typically planted near the bottom of the grow bag, with soil added periodically as the stem grows.

Read on to learn all about potato grow bags!

Introduction to potato grow bags

If you’re tight on space in your garden or simply want to try your hand at growing potatoes, potato grow bags are a great option. These bags are typically made from breathable fabric and have several pockets or compartments for planting individual potato plants.

Grow bags can be placed on a patio, balcony, or any other sunny spot. One of the benefits of using grow bags is that they can be easily moved around if necessary due to bad weather or in search of sunlight. Additionally, the fabric helps to aerate the soil and improve drainage, both of which are important for healthy potato growth.

Potato grow bags are also great because there is no digging to plant the seed potatoes and no digging in the fall to harvest the crop of potatoes. The process is easy for kids and new gardeners. It’s also great for small-space and balcony gardens.

Choosing a potato grow bag

There are lots of different grow bags that work with potatoes. The smallest ones are 5 gallons and can fit one small seed potato. More reasonably-sized potato grow bags hold 10-15 gallons and are at least 20″ wide. Big potato grow bags can be 20 gallons or larger and can hold half a dozen potato plants if so desired.

When selecting a potato grow bag, make sure to choose one that is large enough to accommodate the number of plants you want to grow. Also, be sure to check that the fabric is durable and breathable/can drain out water. Plastic tarp-like potato bags should have obvious drainage holes. With a little care, your potato grow bag can provide a bountiful harvest of fresh potatoes.

Choosing seed potatoes to grow

You can grow any type of potatoes in a grow bag! Here are some yummy potato varieties to consider planting this season:

How many seed potatoes per grow bag?

The number of seed potatoes that can be placed in a single grow bag depends on the size of the seed potatoes and the size of the grow bag. In general, 1-2 potato plants can fit in a smaller 5-10 gallon grow bag. For larger 15-20 gallon grow bags, you can put more like 4-6 plants if you have lots of seed potatoes and want to plant them all.

Some seed potatoes are small mini tubers that have only 2-3 “eyes” (sprouts) on them. These can be planted whole to create one potato plant. Larger seed potatoes are generally cut into smaller pieces with 2-3 eyes each. The pieces are left out for the cuts to dry. Then each piece is planted separately to create individual potato plants.

Preparing seed potatoes for planting

Seed potatoes are usually left out to sprout, or “chit” before planting. This helps them to grow more quickly once they are in the ground.

To chit, simply place seed potatoes in a egg carton or on a tray with the eyes pointing up if possible. Place them in a sunny spot and wait for them to sprout. Light and air helps to sprout/chit potatoes. Once the seed potatoes have sprouted to about an inch long, they can be planted in the grow bag.

Potato Grow Bag with Seed Potatoes for Patio Garden

How to plant potatoes in a grow bag

Potatoes can be planted in a grow bag by adding a little potting mix to the bottom, placing a seed potato or two on top of the soil bed, adding a few more inches of soil, and watering deeply. Then keep adding soil when the sprout is about 6″ above the soil line until the bag is full.

Supplies

  • Potato grow bag
  • Seed potatoes
  • Lightweight potting mix
  • Potato fertilizer
  • Trowel
  • Water

“Potatoes are grown from “seed potatoes” – small potatoes held over from the previous season to plant the following year. While you can save your own seed potatoes, this risks transferring disease from one crop to the next. It’s better to buy fresh seed potatoes from a reputable supplier.”

GrowVeg: The Beginner’s Guide to Easy Vegetable Gardening, by Benedict Vanheems

Steps

1. Start with clean, disinfected hands and tools.

2. If using larger seed potatoes, cut them into 2-3″ pieces with 2-3 eyes each. Allow the cuts to dry for a few hours to a few days before planting.

3. Fill the grow bag with 4″-6″ of a well-draining potting mix. Usually, the bag is about 1/3 full at this point.

4. Mix a bit of potato fertilizer into the potting mix.

5. Place the first seed potato on top of the mix. Place them with chits/eyes up. Potatoes have a top and bottom; the top/stem is the chit/sprout and the bottom/heel is where the root of the mother plant went in when the seed potato was a baby, like a potato belly button.

6. Add the additional seed potato(es) spacing them 6″-8″ apart if using larger pieces (if the bag allows). If planting whole mini tubers, you can space them about 4″-6″ apart (or evenly spaced). Put 1-2 tubers/pieces into smaller 5-10 gallon bags or 3-6 potatoes into larger 15-20 gallon bags.

Planting Seed Potatoes in Potting Mix Inside Grow Bag

7. Cover the seed potatoes with about 4″ of potting mix.

8. Roll the sides of the bag down so that the sunlight can reach the leaves when the potato sprout reaches the surface.

9. Place the grow bag in a sunny spot.

10. Water the grow bag thoroughly until water drains out of the bottom.

Caring For Potatoes Growing in Bags

Caring for newly-planted potatoes

Here are the basics for caring for potatoes growing in bags after they’ve been planted.

1. Keep the soil moist but not soggy for the next few weeks (check that its draining). The yellow/green sprout should appear in 2-3 weeks.

2. When plants are 6″ tall, add more potting mix to the bag, being careful not to damage the potato plants.

3. Continue adding soil as the plants grow (like hilling up potato plants in the ground). Be sure to leave about 4″ of space from the top of the bag to the soil line. This helps prevent the potatoes from toppling over when they are ready to harvest.

4. Add a potato fertilizer according to package instructions when plants are 12″ tall.

5. When plants flower, stop adding soil and allow the potatoes to mature.

6. Get ready to harvest the potatoes when the plants begin to die back (turn brown and wilt). This usually happens about 3-4 months after planting (read more about how long potatoes take to grow).

7. Cut the aboveground foliage off the plants and discard in the compost pile.

8. Carefully remove the potatoes from the grow bag, being careful not to damage them. You can either dig into the bag or topple it over and upend the bag so the soil and potatoes pour out. Either way is super-fun!

9. Leave the potatoes in a sunny spot to dry. Then brush off excess dirt.

10. Store in a cool, dark place until ready to eat.

Potato Grow Bag on the Deck after Planting

Tips for caring for potatoes growing in bags

Potatoes will grow well in full light, but the plants also tolerate some shade. When potatoes are grown in some shade, expect a lesser yield and smaller tubers.

Cover with a cloth during slight frost, bring inside if it gets below freezing. If the initial shoots of seed potatoes are destroyed by frost, new ones may sprout.

In the spring, water once a week and much more frequently in the summer if it’s hot and dry out. Container potatoes should receive enough water but not be soggy.

Cover the smaller potatoes with earth after they’ve grown to about 6 inches tall and continue to cover the tiny plants until you reach the top of the bag.

Plant some chives, thyme, or other companion plants for potatoes in the soil once the maximum level has been reached. They’ll be a bit crowded when the potato plants leaf out (especially if lots of seed potatoes are planted), but they’re so nice to have right in your potato bag to harvest for fresh-baked potatoes topped with fresh herbs in the fall.

Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a gardening expert and founder of Home for the Harvest. She's also an engineer and certified permaculture garden designer. Mary Jane has been featured by publications such as Real Simple, Mother Earth News, Homes & Gardens, Heirloom Gardener, and Family Handyman.