How to Grow Potatoes in a Grow Bag

The world of growing common veggies in fabric bags has gained lots of traction, especially for those of us with small growing spaces in urban settings or working on improving our soil fertility and structure. Join organic farmer Jenna Rich as she shows us just how easy it is to grow the humble potato in a fabric grow bag in just seven steps.

Sunlight bathes a verdant potato plant, its leafy emerald fronds reaching skyward from a burlap sack in a garden bed. Deep green hues and smooth edges tell a tale of health and vigor, promising a bounty of tubers beneath the soil.


The first spring we farmed in New Hampshire, we excitedly planted several beds of potatoes. What followed was an extremely cold and wet spring that bled into summer, resulting in sad and soggy plants. We were forced to harvest tiny potatoes before they rotted in the ground. Our haul may have been smaller than the amount we purchased in seed potatoes. But alas, the farmer pushes onward! 

It was intimidating to try again after that year, but with each year of experience, no-till practices, and improving our soil fertility, the pest pressure diminished, the plants thrived, and we learned from common mistakes. Eventually, we successfully grew them. 

If you’re just starting a new garden plot or simply don’t have a lot of growing space, growing potatoes in bags is an effective and fun way to grow this ultimate comfort food. Let’s dive in. 

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Benefits of Growing in Grow Bags

A burlap sack filled with healthy potato plants sits on a grassy patio. Lush green leaves emerge from the top of the sack, contrasting with the brown soil visible within. The contrast is striking - the rustic simplicity of the sack against the vibrant greenery.
Portable, drainage-friendly fabric bags promote healthy roots, prevent rootbinding, and offer versatile sizing.

Gardeners have grown in pots and various containers for years, but modern fabric grow bags offer great benefits. Here are just a few:

  • Easily movable
  • Fabric allows excess water to drain out
  • Creates healthy rootball
  • Plants cannot become rootbound
  • Long-term use with proper care
  • Lots of sizes available for all your gardening needs
  • A great option if you have poor soil or need more time to amend garden plots
  • Many are BPA-free
  • Attractive with fun color options
  • Will keep plants from overheating in summer and add a layer of warmth when it’s cold

Step 1: Gather Supplies

A close-up view of three seed potatoes being planted in a growing bag container filled with dark compost. The potatoes are light brown and roughly oval-shaped, with small "eyes" where new shoots will emerge. They are positioned evenly near the top of the compost, with a few centimeters of space between them.
Start with seed potatoes, a clean knife, potting soil, optional compost, grow bags, trowel, and water.

Getting started is easy. Let’s grab the supplies you’ll need. 

  • Seed potatoes. These serve as the “seed” when starting new potato plants.
  • A clean knife
  • Potting soil: This should be a rich, well-draining soil.
  • Optional compost to mix into potting soil 
  • Grow bag (s): If you’ve used these before, clean old debris out and sanitize them by soaking them in a 2:1 ratio of water to 3% hydrogen peroxide for 20 minutes, then rinse them thoroughly. 
  • A trowel for planting, hilling, and later, harvesting. 
  • Access to clean water

Step 2: Select the Right Spud

Close-up of a gleaming Yukon gold potato cradled in a rustic jute bag. Its perfectly smooth, golden skin shines under the light, contrasting with the rough burlap texture. It captures the intricate texture of the jute fibers and the potato's imperfections, creating a rustic and natural feel.
Potatoes are selected based on specific uses, such as baking with Russets.

Different types of potatoes are best for different culinary uses, so pick one that suits those needs. Here are a few popular types and what they’re commonly and best used for: 

  • Russets (starchy): baking, mashing, and frying 
  • Red potatoes (hold up well when cooked): potato salad, soups, stews
  • Yukon gold potatoes (soft, creamy flesh, good all-purpose potato): boiling, baking, frying, mashing, roasting
  • Fingerlings (waxy, tubular, keep their shape): grilling, pan-frying, roasting 
  • Blue potatoes: use them in stand-out dishes to highlight the color 

Pro tip: If your season is short, look for varieties that mature in 80-100 days.

Step 3: Preparing and Planting Your Potatoes 

You can propagate potato plants by seeds, but the most common way is to plant tubers. These will create an exact clone of the parent plant. 

Depending on your growing region, potatoes can be planted in the ground any time from January to mid-April after the risk of frost has passed. However, when planting them in grow bags, you can start a little earlier than you would outside in garden soil. If you can place the bags in a warm greenhouse or a semi-heated garage or basement, they’ll get a little head start

Due to their long time in the ground (90-120 days), plant them before the heat of summer kicks in for best success. Young plants won’t develop properly if temperatures are too hot.

Preparing Seed Potatoes 

Close-up of a hand grasping a freshly cut potato half, revealing its creamy white flesh. In the background, a jumble of whole potatoes rests, their brown vibrant shoots reaching skyward like miniature leafy fingers.
Chitting involves cutting whole seed potatoes into two-inch chunks for planting.

If the potatoes you purchased for seed are whole, you may choose to cut them into smaller chunks, about two inches each, before planting. This process is called “chitting,” and it allows you to get more bang for your buck. It’s also a pre-sprouting process that some growers claim results in larger yields. When you choose to chit your potatoes, they must then dry before planting to prevent pests, pathogens, and rot. 

Each seed potato piece should have 1-3 eyes. Each eye will form sprouts and roots, growing toward the sun. If the seed potatoes are already cut, simply gather them up and get ready to plant them. 

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Preparing Grow Bags and Planting 

Three burlap sacks, brimful with crumbly brown soil, primed for potato planting. The rustic backdrop features a timeworn brick wall, its weathered surface etched with stories. Sunbeams dance across the burlap sacks, coaxing warm reflections from their weathered surfaces.
Plant seed potatoes in bags with moist soil, compost, and water for optimal growth.

Fill your bags with four to six inches of moistened soil mix, sprinkling in a bit of compost if desired. Tamp the soil down by picking up the bag and dropping it down gently.

Then, using your hand or trowel, create holes for each seed potato, placing it just below the soil surface, sprouted eye side facing up. Cover the potatoes with two to three more inches of soil. Water the spuds and let them be for a few weeks. 


A gardener carefully plants sprouted seed potatoes in a humus-rich garden bed. The potatoes are spaced evenly in deep furrows, which are moist and ready to receive the new plants. The ridges between the furrows are still dry, waiting for their turn to be watered.
Allocate sufficient space for potato plants, adjusting based on variety and container size.

When planting in the ground, it’s recommended to give each potato plant about 16” of space on either side. When using grow bags, ensure the roots have enough room to spread out and develop a full-sized tuber. Depending on the variety, a 5-gallon bag can accommodate one to two potato plants, and a 10-gallon bag can accommodate four to six. 

Step 4: Location, Location, Location! 

Sun-kissed potato plants burst from humble brown sack containers, their vibrant green leaves cascading over the edges like verdant waterfalls. The sacks huddle together, forming a rustic garden oasis amidst a sea of lush greenery that stretches as far as the eye can see.
Potatoes thrive in full sun, with sufficient water access and efficient drip irrigation.

Potatoes need lots of sun, so position them in a place where they’ll receive at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day, but they can handle a spot that offers no shade at all. Ensure easy access to water.

Drip irrigation with tubing is going to work best for potatoes. When grow bags are placed in line, you can efficiently set up an irrigation system right across them. 

Step 5: Caring For and Monitoring Potatoes 

Potatoes prefer to mature and perform their best in cooler temperatures. If you live in a warmer growing zone, try covering them with shade cloth to improve performance in hot spells. 


A close-up of a gloved hand holding a hoe, weeding a row of small potato plants. The hoe blade is angled into the soil, next to a small potato plant with delicate green leaves. The soil is dark and moist, and there are a few small weeds scattered around the potato plants.
Weed control in bags is crucial for maintaining potato health and preserving resources.

Weeds are much easier to manage when growing in bags and are less prevalent, but an important step for keeping potato plants healthy. If you allow weeds to prevail, you’ll just be feeding and caring for them, taking away important resources from your potatoes


A group of Colorado potato beetles clustered together on a potato leaf. The beetles are brown and yellow striped, about the size of a small marble. The beetles are using their mouthparts to pierce the leaves of the potato plant as they are sucking out the plant's juices.
Protect against the Colorado potato beetle, a resilient pest.

One of the worst potato pests is the Colorado potato beetle (CPB). It has become almost fully pesticide-resistant, and if left alone, it will destroy your whole patch. Know what to look for and scout early. When potatoes are first planted, cover your bags with insect netting for protection until the plants grow too tall.

You could even insert small hoops to allow the netting to stay on longer to keep adult beetles from laying eggs on your plants because, at that point, you’ll have a big problem. Like other spring pests, if they can’t find the food they like in your garden, they’ll simply move to another area to lay their eggs. 

Key characteristics and things to know about the CPB:

  • Adults are oval, hard-shelled, and have very distinct black and goldish-orange striping the length of their ⅜ inch long body. They overwinter in the ground and become active in the spring. Orange eggs are laid in clusters of 10-30 on the undersides of leaves.
  • Larvae hatch out a brick red with black heads with two rows of black dots running the length of their body and are very small. Check the underside of leaves daily. Squash any that are found immediately.
  • Scout all other nightshades you grow as well, as the CPB may have chosen them as their host plant.
  • CPBs can defoliate potatoes quickly, sometimes overnight. Plants can handle a bit more damage during the vegetative stage, about 30%, but only about 10% when tubers are bulking up. It’s important to get control of the population before this point.

How to prevent and treat:

  • Clean up garden debris so they have less host opportunity.
  • Early maturing varieties may escape summer damage.
  • Practice proper crop rotation.
  • Be diligent with hand-picking. Squash them if you have the stomach for it. Otherwise, drop them in a jar of soapy water. This is very effective for control!
  • Attract lady beetles and stink bugs as natural predators of CPB eggs.
  • If pesticides are used, switch the active ingredient each time you treat, or they’ll become resistant.
  • A bed of straw over young potato plants may discourage the adult CPB from laying eggs there and create a perfect home for predators.

Other pests include aphids, flea beetles, and the potato tuber moth. 


A close-up of a hand holding a handful of slow-release fertilizer, its yellow spheres contrasting against dark, rich soil. The hand is dirty, with streaks of soil visible on the fingers and nails. The fertilizer consists of small, yellow balls, some of which are clumped together.
Enhance mid-season potato growth with balanced nutrients.

Potting soil has a generalized amount of nutrients to get seedlings started, but since potatoes are in the ground for so long, they’ll benefit from an application mid-season. While they don’t typically need a whole lot of fertility, adding something with equal parts potassium and phosphorus won’t hurt. Nitrogen is important during vegetative states, but you should back off from it when the tuber is forming underground to avoid too much above-ground green growth. 

A mid-season feed may increase the size and yield of your potatoes. You can also use a balanced slow-release granular feed about four weeks after planting. Pro tip: Applying foliage phosphate in addition to fertilizing the soil should increase yields

Hilling Up Potatoes 

A close-up shows a gloved hand gently holding a hoe. The pink polka-dotted glove contrasts with the soil around the base of the potato plants. The gardener is carefully hilling the potatoes with the blade diving into rich, crumbly soil, embracing the base of verdant potato plants.
When the foliage reaches eight inches, hill potatoes for proper tuber growth.

Hilling is crucial to allow tubers more space to grow. When planting potatoes in a bag in just four to six inches of soil, they’ll be pretty low down in the bag, giving you lots of space to build up. Once there are about eight inches of foliage above the soil surface, it’s time to hill. This should be repeated each time the foliage reaches this height to continue proper tuber formation and growth. 

The built-in benefit of growing potatoes in bags is when you first plant them. You can roll the sides of the bag down to ensure newly sprouted plants get enough sun. As the foliage grows and the tubers require more growing medium, simply roll the sides up, add about six inches of soil over the canopy, and fertilize. Any buried foliage will produce more potatoes, and the additional soil may prevent pests from prevailing, retain moisture, and decrease the weed seed bank.

Step 6: Watering

A hand watering a potato plant with a bright yellow watering can. The potato plant is small and has green leaves, with no flowers or potatoes yet. The soil around the plant is wet from the watering can.
Crops require immediate watering after planting to prevent overwatering in fabric grow bags.

As with most crops, water them right away after planting them. As they settle in and start to sprout, they’ll require about one to two inches of water per week. One of the best things about growing in fabric grow bags is they’re virtually impossible to overwater! If you have ensured your soil is well-draining and composted, any excess water will easily drain out rather than pooling at the bottom of the bag. 

Excessive moisture can lead to fungal disease and root rot, so this feature of fabric grow bags is a big one. When I was a new grower, I tended to overwater. That’s not uncommon. I think, in general, we growers tend to think more water is better than risk our plants having too little, but you can do a lot of damage by overwatering. 

During especially hot, sunny spells, check your grow bags daily for moisture levels. 

Step 7: Harvesting 

It takes between 90-120 days for potato tubers to properly grow and mature. At this point, tubers are full-sized and starchy. Digging them up is SO fun for adults and kids alike. Let’s learn more about when and how to harvest. 

When Are Potatoes Ready to Harvest?

Sun-kissed potatoes peek from the overturned earth, their golden skins dusted with clinging soil. Uprooted but not yet harvested, they huddle like an unearthed treasure, waiting to be gathered from the field.
Harvest potatoes when the above-ground foliage turns yellow and dies back.

The foliage above ground will give clear signals that let you know the tubers are ready for harvest. The leaves will begin to yellow and die back, letting you know the plant has used up all its energy to form the tubers. 

How to Harvest 

A gloved hand proudly displays a freshly unearthed potato, its skin still dewy from the soil. Behind, a bounty of more potatoes awaits, nestled amongst loose earth and leaning against a trusty shovel. The scene captures the satisfaction of a successful harvest.
Easily harvest from grow bags by pulling or tipping without damaging potatoes.

When growing in grow bags, it’s easy enough to simply pull the entire plant right out of the container to harvest. Alternatively, you can cut leaf debris out of the way and dig around using your hands or a trowel or simply tip the bag over. Be careful if using a tool that you don’t damage the potatoes below.

New Potatoes 

Jewel-toned new potatoes, barely bigger than marbles, huddle like a glistening treasure trove. Their skins, kissed by roasting, gleam like burnished gold, while a sprig of rosemary, verdant and fragrant, promises earthy delights to come.
New potatoes, with their thin skins, offer delightful culinary versatility when harvested early.

Many growers choose to harvest some of the same varieties you’re growing for full-size or storage potatoes early as “new potatoes.” This term simply means young, small potatoes. This method allows farmers to bring an early crop to market and offer a sweet, tender-skinned version of their older counterparts that will be available later in the season. It also gives them a longer harvest and selling period. New potatoes can be harvested two to three weeks after flowering has finished. 

Don’t wash new potatoes until you’re just about to use them because their skins are so thin that you could damage them if they’re processed too heavily. While these won’t last very long in storage, they’re a delicious early-season treat, perfect for tender potato salad, steamed as a side dish, or mixed in with early summer squash, baked into a torte. 

Storage Potatoes 

A close-up view of netted bags overflowing with potatoes. The netted bags bulge with the weight of the starchy tubers, their rough skins hinting at the earth they were grown in. The muted lighting and lack of visible surroundings suggest a cool, dry storage space, perfect for preserving the harvest.
Leaving some dirt on potatoes and storing them in a ventilated space enhances their shelf life.

Keeping some dirt on potatoes before storage will give them the longest possible shelf life. Place potatoes in a well-vented box or bag without over-crowding them. Store them in a cool, dry area for up to several months. Refer to variety-specific information for the exact length of possible shelf life. Storage potatoes should be harvested one to three weeks after the foliage has died back. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

How can I keep mice away from my potato bags? 

Elevate your grow bags at least 12 inches off the ground. Tables with metal legs will make it difficult for them to climb up. Mice detest strong scents like mint and pepper. Sprinkle cayenne pepper around the bags or strategically place lavender or peppermint essential oil-soaked cotton balls around your grow bags to deter them.

You could also plant strong herbs nearby, such as rosemary, basil, garlic, or thyme. Hardware cloth fences may also keep them out of the area. If all else fails, adopt a barn cat to decrease the pressure!

How do I know what growing stage my potato plants are in? 

A lot of potato growth happens underground, unseen by the gardener. Check out our article about the different stages of potato growth to learn more about what’s happening under those hills throughout the season.

Are potatoes roots, tubers, or tuberous roots? 

Potatoes are tubers, which differentiate from true bulbs in that they have eyes that allow them to grow in any direction when placed in the ground. The potato tuber is where the plant has stored all its starch (energy) to be used for the next generation of potatoes.

Final Thoughts

Growing in bags is an affordable and effective alternative to growing potatoes in the ground. If you want to enjoy homegrown potatoes but are new to gardening, don’t quite have your garden beds fully ready, or just want to experiment, this might be the method for you. Plan for a sunny placement spot, elevate bags to keep critters away, and monitor them throughout the growing season. 

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