Learn how to grow potatoes in containers; no tilling required. Although potatoes grow best in places with cool summer days and nights (think Idaho), if you choose the correct variety and plant them at the correct time, it’s possible and relatively simple to grow potatoes in warmer climates like Arizona. 

Whether you like them baked, mashed, french fried, roasted or any number of other ways, potatoes are a delicious staple. Try a homegrown potato and you can taste the difference in crispness and freshness. If you want to learn how to grow potatoes in containers, you’ve come to the right place. 

Here are 10 tips for how to grow potatoes in containers:

How to grow potatoes in containers - Growing potatoes in Arizona -Organic potatoes grown in containers

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1. Before you learn how to grow potatoes in containers, understand how potatoes grow

Look closely at a potato; there are several slightly-recessed ‘eyes’ on the surface. Under the right conditions, these eyes sprout – you’ve surely seen this happen to a potato in your kitchen. When the sprout is planted, it develops into a stem. The stem grows into a plant above ground, and the excess energy from the plant is channeled downward to the roots and stored in ‘tubers’. A tuber is the thickened part of the stem growing underground. We call those thickened tubers ‘potatoes’.

How to grow potatoes in containers - Growing potatoes in Arizona -Organic potatoes grown in containers

2. Choose the right potato to plant

In warmer climates such as the low desert of Arizona, plant short-season varieties of potatoes (which are smaller potatoes rather than the larger potatoes commonly grown in places like Idaho). Varieties to try are Yukon Gold, Red Gold or All RedBuy certified disease-free seed potatoes from online retailers or garden centers for best results. I’ve also used grocery store potatoes that sprout in my pantry. 

How to grow potatoes in containers - Growing potatoes in Arizona -Organic potatoes grown in containers

3. Prepare the potato before planting

A week or so before planting, put seed potatoes where the temperature is between 60-70℉ and where they will be exposed to light. This encourages the potatoes to sprout – a process called ‘chitting’. Once potatoes have sprouted, cut larger potatoes in pieces. Ensure each cut piece has 2-3 eyes. Allow cut potatoes to dry at room temperature for 2-3 days to give the cut edges time to heal or scab over. When the edges feel leathery with no signs of moisture, they have properly dried. Smaller potatoes (about the size of a golf ball) can be left whole. Discard any potatoes with soft spots.

How to grow potatoes in containers - Growing potatoes in Arizona -Organic potatoes grown in containers

4. Plant potatoes at the right time

In cooler parts of the country, plant potatoes just after the last frost date. In the low desert of Arizona, there are two windows to plant potatoes. Plant the first crop in January or February for harvesting in June or July. Plant a second crop in September or October for harvesting in late winter. Potatoes are frost-sensitive and the plants will die back in a hard frost. If plants are killed by frost, harvest potatoes no matter the size, within a week or two to keep them from rotting.   

How to grow potatoes in containers - Growing potatoes in Arizona -Organic potatoes grown in containers

5. How to grow potatoes in containers? Pick a container, any container

Potatoes aren’t picky about which container they are grown in. Choose trash cans, compost sacks, or burlap bags. I like growing potatoes in these 40 gallon grow-bags. Follow the basic principles for planting outlined below, and you can be successful no matter which container you choose.

How to grow potatoes in containers - Growing potatoes in Arizona -Organic potatoes grown in containers

6. Plant the right number of potatoes for your sized container

The most important rule when using containers is to match the number of seed potatoes to the size of container you are growing them in. As a rough guide, each potato plant needs about 3 gallons to grow well. Overcrowding potatoes results in smaller potatoes.

How to grow potatoes in containers - Growing potatoes in Arizona -Organic potatoes grown in containers

7. Plant potatoes correctly

Place a 3-4 inch layer of loose soil, heavily amended with compost, in the bottom of the container. (Roll down sides of container if desired). Plant seed potatoes with sprouted-side up in soil, and cover them with 2-3 inches of additional compost. As potatoes sprout, cover them again when sprouts are about 6 inches tall. Continue this process until the top of the container is reached at which point the plant will continue to grow without being covered up. 

How to grow potatoes in containers - Growing potatoes in Arizona -Organic potatoes grown in containers

8. Don’t let potatoes dry out

Potatoes grown in the ground look for moisture in surrounding soil while container-grown potatoes rely on the moisture you provide. Potatoes need consistent moisture to grow well. For even watering, I have a drip line inserted in each grow bag. It’s important to keep soil evenly damp, but not wet. Allow some drying between waterings. Consider feeding actively-growing potatoes with an organic fertilizer, such as seaweed extract, once or twice during the growing season. Mulching with straw helps to retain moisture.

How to grow potatoes in containers - Growing potatoes in Arizona -Organic potatoes grown in containers

9. Put your container in the best location

Potatoes need at least 6 hours of sun to grow well. In the low desert, full sun is preferred for the fall planting of potatoes. Spring-planted potatoes do best with a little afternoon shade to prevent them from drying out too quickly.

How to grow potatoes in containers - Growing potatoes in Arizona -Organic potatoes grown in containers
How to grow potatoes in containers - Growing potatoes in Arizona -Organic potatoes grown in containers
Potato Blossom

10. Know when to harvest potatoes

Harvest ‘new’ potatoes just after the plants flower. For larger potatoes, wait until the tops begin to turn yellow and die back. To increase the storage time of potatoes, allow them to stay in the ground for an additional 2 weeks following the dieback of the plants. When you are ready to harvest the entire container, gently dump it out into a wheelbarrow, being careful not to damage the potatoes. Let potatoes cure for a few hours outside. Brush loose soil off the potatoes, and store them in a cool, dry place until you are ready to use them.  

How to grow potatoes in containers - Growing potatoes in Arizona -Organic potatoes grown in containers

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How to grow potatoes in containers - Growing potatoes in Arizona -Organic potatoes grown in containers
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15 comments on “How to Grow Potatoes in Containers”

  1. Thank you for this information. I am trying to grow potatoes for the first time. We have grown tomatillos and they have done great. Thank you again for this information.
    I will be back

  2. You wrote: “Varieties to try are Yukon Gold, Red Gold or All Red”.
    I tries to find these seed potatoes for October planting but these varieties are sold in Spring. Where they can be bought in Fall?

  3. When do I cover the new seedlings with more soil? Some are about 3 inches tall and some about an inch. Thank you!!!

  4. Is the drip line buried in the middle or is it on top of the bag? Also, is it on a timer, if so how long each watering? Thank you.

    • I fed a drip line into each bag by cutting a hole on the bottom of the bag and running the drip line up through to the top of the bag. It was on a timer. Time for watering varies depending on your emitters, etc. Water long enough to moisten the soil in the bag. Let the top few inches dry out before watering again.

  5. I need some potato advice! I am in Tucson. Trying potatoes for the first time. I bought seed potatoes from Gurneys but they were back ordered and I didn’t get them until June. Growing in sacks and following the exact plan you show in your video. Plants come up-look great and then start to die. Maybe just the wrong time of year for Tucson, or maybe too much water-is that possible? Have kept them very moist and watering almost every day as it has been 107 degrees. Have 6 potato sacks going and have lost 3 of them. Hoping I can save the rest! They are yukon gold and red la soda.

    • I wish I had good news for you. Timing is the most important factor when gardening in hot places like we live, it’s just too hot right now. You could try again this fall. You may want to get organic potatoes from Sprouts and try chitting your own so they are ready when you need them. (this is what I normally do)

  6. Thank you! I had read NOT to get them from the store as they are sprayed with a sprout inhibitor but that makes perfect sense to just buy organic.

  7. I am in Flagstaff. When do you suggest to start planting potatoes and what variety? I have a nice garden in my yard but haven’t tried potatoes yet. Thank you!

    • Plant potatoes about 2 weeks before your last frost date in the spring. Use seed potatoes, which ever type you prefer. There are early or mid to late season varieties.

    • You can grow them in raised beds by creating a tunnel within the bed for them and then filling in the tunnel as the plant grows.

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