How To Get A Potato To Sprout

Growing potatoes is not only easy but also rewarding, turn one potato into many potatoes! You may be wondering where to start on how to get a potato to sprout. A little knowledge certainly helps, yes you really can simply stick a potato in the ground and it may grow more potatoes. But and yes you knew there was a but if you want lots and bigger potatoes a little knowledge goes a long way.

To get the best harvest of potatoes did you know you need to sprout / chit your potatoes first. Chitting potatoes are also known as sprouting potatoes. So if you want to know how to get a potato to sprout for a better harvest then read on.

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What Causes Potatoes To Sprout?

Its all part of the potato growth cycle. When a potato is growing in the ground it produces more potatoes and if not dug up they would stay in the ground over winter waiting. When spring comes along and the ground warms up the potatoes start to sprout in order to grow and produce more potatoes. So, in a nutshell, its warmth that triggers potatoes to sprout. There are also things you can do to help preserve the shelf life of your potatoes to prevent them from sprouting. Read on to find of more on how to get a potato to sprout.

What Do Potato Sprouts Look Like?

When you prepare potatoes for cooking you will often find imperfections on the outside of the potatoes. This includes lumps and bumps often referred to as “eyes”. These are removed/scraped off before cooking. But if you leave them on they will turn into sprouts. Here is a photo of some potatoes I left in a box to sprout.

How To Get A Potato To Sprout
How To Get A Potato To Sprout

How To Get A Potato To Sprout?

You need to start this process 6 weeks before you intend to plan them. This process is also known as chitting potatoes. This process will yeild more potatoes. What I do is save all my egg cartons and place the seed potatoes in here this is for two reasons:

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  • Stops the potatoes from moving and knocking off the sprouting shoots
  • Give once side of the potato the light it needs to start the chitting process
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Put the potatoes in a light frost free place. I personally put mine in the greenhouse but a window-sill is a great alternative. After two weeks you should see the potato eyes slowly start sprouting into shoots. Wait until the shoots are 1″ to 1.5″ before you consider planting.

Why Do You Need To Sprout Potatoes Before Planting?

By sprouting / chitting the potatoes before planting then you are essentially giving them a head start. This means you can get your potatoes in the ground earlier. This also means you can harvest earlier. Sprouting potatoes is very useful for early varieties because they can be put in the ground as soon as the risk of frost had passed.

Do You Remove Potato Sprouts Before Planting?

It’s depends. I keep 3 sprouts on each potato before planting. To remove a sprout simply rub your finger over them and they will fall off. Why do I do this? The more sprouts you have the more potatoes you will get but they will be smaller. The less sprouts the bigger the potatoes but you can expect less of them. I hope to follow this up with an experiment.

Can You Eat A Sprouted Potato?

Yes when a potato is sprouting it’s safe to eat. You need to remove the sprouts before preparing to cook. However the sprouts start to shrivel and wrinkle so you may want to consider if you would actually want to eat a sprouted shrivelled potato.

Can You Grow Store-Bought Potatoes?

Ever bought a bag of potatoes from the grocery store, only to leave it in a dark corner of the pantry? We often forget about them until we are finally ready to use them and discover a colony of baby potato sprouts looking back at us. So what do we do with these ugly potatoes? Though they are safe to eat after you remove the sprouts, they’re unappealing. Why not grow them?

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Yes, you can grow store-bought potatoes. These sprouted potatoes in your pantry can grow a beautiful crop of potatoes and produce potatoes just as good as what you would have achieved from seed potatoes from the gardening center.  

How To Sprout Store-Bought Potatoes?

If the store-bought potatoes are not already sprouting, you’ll need to allow them some time to do so. Normally, harvested potatoes have a dormancy period of a few months before they can start sprouting and are ready to plant. This is why older potatoes are best for planting, since they’ll sprout quicker. In any case, leave the store bought potatoes in a warm bright space to trigger sprouting. 

Planting Sprouted Potatoes

Once the potatoes have eyes, you can prepare the potatoes by cutting them into sections. Make sure each chunk has at least 1 eye because it is the eye that will grow into a plant. You can grow the entire spud without cutting it, but gardeners prefer dividing it into sections to increase the yield per spud. Leave the pieces out in the air to allow them to dry completely and prevent any chances of rotting. However, if you’re concerned about rotting, you may plant the tomatoes whole, after removing all but a few eyes. 

Prepare the containers with good quality potting soil and plant the pieces of potatoes with the sprouted end facing upwards. Bury the potato pieces about 1 to 2 inch deep into the soil and maintain a distance of 6 inches between the individual pieces. 

Caring For Potato Plants

Continue adding soil as the plants grow to allow deeper roots and more spuds. This is called hilling and is a technique used by many gardeners to increase yield in potato crops. Keep the crop well-watered but avoid water logging conditions. 

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Fertilize the plants every 2 to 3 weeks with a weak solution of fish emulsion fertilizer. Once the leaves and stalks start turning yellow and die back, it’s time to stop watering the plants. Allow a couple of weeks for the tubers to cure before harvesting them. Once harvested, the tubers can either be used right away, or cured for longer storage. Whether you grow the crop from seed potatoes or from store-bought potatoes, you’ll enjoy harvesting and consuming healthy, home-grown produce.


Getting potatoes to sprout is easy all you need is the right conditions and time. Sprouting potatoes not only gets you a crop sooner it can help you get a bigger crop or lager potatoes because you can control the number of sprouts per seed (tuber). You can eat sprouted potatoes but I really wouldn’t. Thanks for reading my article on how to get a potato to sprout. Feedback is important to me so please add a comment if you found this useful. Ask me a question and I will post a new article to cover everything you need to know.

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