How to Sprout Seed Potatoes

By Heather Rhoades
Published: December 1, 2016 | Last updated: May 4, 2021
Key Takeaways

Wishing you could get your potatoes harvested a little earlier? If you try chitting potatoes, or sprouting seed potatoes before you plant them, you can harvest your potatoes up to three weeks earlier. Sprouting potatoes before planting can also help you if you have trouble getting your potatoes to reach maturity in your area. Below you will find tips for sprouting potatoes before planting in the ground.

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What Potatoes Need to Sprout

Potatoes are a little like seedlings in that they need light to grow. But, unlike seedlings, they do not need a growing medium like soil to sprout. All you will need for sprouting seed potatoes is the seed potatoes and a bright window or a fluorescent lamp.


How to Sprout Potatoes Before Planting

You will start sprouting potatoes three to four weeks before planting. Buy your seed potatoes from a reputable seed seller. While you can sprout potatoes that are from the grocery store, the grocery store might have diseases that will kill the plant. It is best to grow seed potatoes that have been treated to prevent these diseases.


The next step in sprouting or chitting potatoes is to place the potatoes in a bright location. A sunny window or under a fluorescent lamp are excellent choices for this. In order to keep the sprouting seed potatoes from rolling around, some people place the potatoes in an open egg carton. This will keep the potatoes stable and still so that their fragile sprouts do not get broken.

In about a week, you should see signs that the potatoes are sprouting. After three to four weeks, you can plant the fully sprouted potatoes the same way you would plant un-sprouted potatoes. Just make sure you plant the seed potatoes with the sprouts facing up and be careful not to break the sprouts off while you are planting them.

Now that you know how to sprout a potato, you can enjoy your potato harvest a little earlier this year. Sprouting potatoes early, also known as chitting potatoes, can be useful in the garden. Once you’re growing, consider the following fungicide tips to prevent problems while growing potatoes.


Fungicide for Seed Potatoes

One of the biggest problems growing potatoes in the garden is the possibility of fungus forming on the potatoes. Whether it be late blight fungus, which was responsible for the Irish Potato Famine, or early blight, which can be just as devastating to a potato plant, potato fungus can destroy your potato plants. But, when you use fungicide for seed potatoes, you can greatly reduce your chances of fungus on your potatoes.

Causes of Fungus on Potatoes

The appearance of potato fungus mainly happens because of infected seed potatoes, or planting in infected soil. Most potato fungi not only attack potatoes, but can survive (though might not kill) on other plants in the nightshade family, such as tomatoes and peppers.


Using Potato Fungicides to Control Fungus on Potatoes

An excellent way to prevent blight fungus on your potatoes is to make sure to treat your seed potatoes with a fungicide before you plant them. Though there are many potato specific fungicides available in the gardening market, in actuality, most general fungicides will work just as well.

After you have cut up your seed potato, thoroughly coat each piece in the fungicide. This will help to kill any potato fungus that might be on the seed potato pieces. You will also want to treat the soil that you will be planting the potatoes in, especially if you have had fungus problems on potatoes in the past or have grown other members of the nightshade family, (which might carry potato fungus) in that spot before. To treat the soil where you will eventually be planting your potatoes, pour fungicide evenly over the area and mix it into the soil.

Making Homemade Fungicide for Seed Potatoes

Below you will find a homemade potato fungicide recipe. This potato fungicide will be effective against weaker potato fungi, but might not be as effective against stronger strains of late potato blight.

Homemade Potato Fungicide Recipe

  • 2 tbsp. of baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. cooking oil, or bleach-free liquid soap
  • 1 gal. water

Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Use as you would a commercial potato fungicide.



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Written by Heather Rhoades

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Heather Rhoades is the founder of Gardening Know How, where she continues to write articles and answer questions relating to gardening.

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