How To Grow Potatoes In Containers And Buckets

There’s nothing like the taste of a freshly harvested potato! It’s unlike anything you’ll get at the stores. And guess what? You don’t need a whole lot of gardening space to grow them. They do very well in containers! 

You will need:

  • Organic seed potatoes 
  • Some 5 to 10-gallon buckets or containers
  • Good soil
  • Water


  1. If you can’t find seed potatoes, buy some organic ones at the supermarket and plant those instead. 
  2. You can plant five seed potatoes into a 10-gallon bucket and about three into a 7-gallon. If you’ve only got 5-gallon buckets, plan on using only two potatoes. 
  3. Expect a 5-gallon bucket to yield a couple of pounds of potatoes. So if you’re feeding a family or just love potatoes, do more containers or bigger ones. 
  4. Finally, make sure you select a clean, food-grade container or bucket that has never been used to store any nasty chemicals. 
  5. If there are no drainage holes at the bottom of the container, drill them yourself. 

Getting Started

Getting your potatoes going is an easy process, but it takes a little bit of time. Follow the steps below, and in just a few months, you’ll be enjoying the tastiest mashed, roasted, or steamed sides you’ve ever had. 

Step 1: Chit Your Potatoes


Making sure your potatoes have chits on them helps your crop grow faster and leads to an earlier harvest. This process involves placing the seed potatoes in a sunny windowsill for a few weeks until the chits (AKA shoots or eyes) are about ¾ of an inch long.

Potato chitts

Step 2: Cut And Scab Your Potatoes

Once the chitting process is over, you’ll likely need to cut your seed potatoes into smaller pieces for planting. The rule of thumb is the potato you plant should be no larger than a golf ball. 

Golf ball

Cut the potato, so each piece has a couple of chits on it. The flesh will be wet when you cut into it; you need to scab it over so it’s dry for planting. To do this, place the potatoes in a cool, dark place for a few days. 

Step 3: Planting The Potatoes

Planting potatoes is a breeze. Start by filling your bucket, container, or fabric pot with 4-6” of good soil. Water so it’s evenly moist.

fill bucket with soil

Next, place the number of potatoes appropriate for the container size (five in a 10-gallon, three in a 7-gallon, two in a 5-gallon) with their eyes up and about 8” apart.

Cover the potatoes with a couple of inches of soil. Tubers exposed to the sunlight will have health issues and compromise the yield. 

place potatoes in soil

Sprinkle some bone meal over the top of the soil and mulch. Water thoroughly, making sure the tubers get an inch and a half of moisture weekly. 

add mulch

Within a couple of weeks, you’ll notice the plants beginning to grow. Once the stalks are about 8” high, backfill the buckets with more soil and mulch, leaving just the tops exposed. Let them grow again, and continue to cover with soil until the container is almost full. 

add backfill

When the containers are full, continue watering regularly. Fertilize occasionally with a product higher in phosphorus and potassium (5-10-10 is good). 

Step 4: Harvesting Potatoes

harvest your potatoes

Harvest time varies between the type of potatoes planted. You’ll know the potatoes are ready for picking when the plants flower and then die back, usually in about 2-3 months.  

Happy harvesting! 

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  • Mikki Chalmers says:

    I really needed this info!! I planted eyes in 5gal grow bags, both white and sweet. They are in sun on my patio. The vines are extensive,and I don’t know if I should trim them. I am a first-time grower and I believe I planted in June. I feed with Miracle Grow weekly. I figured that I can make a dent in my grocery bill by growing my own. Thanks again!

  • area man says:

    It is my understanding that growing potatoes in the manner you described only works with indeterminate varieties of potatoes. German butterball, Burbank russet, and most purple potatoes are examples of indeterminate potato varieties.

  • Carolina says:

    Great read! I was wondering if you have to drill holes in the bucket to drain excess water. Thank you!

  • Jo says:

    Where do I keep the grow bags/buckets? Can they be indoors? Do they need lots of sunlight? What temperature?

  • Kathy says:

    The fewer potatoes planted, the bigger they will be, correct ? When I put mine too close together, they are much smaller.

  • Cassandra McBeath says:

    Could you use dog food bags that aren’t paper?

    • Celia Sayers says:

      That’s a great question. Considering that the bag should be made from food-grade plastic, it should fit the bill but to be sure, maybe stick with non-comestible varieties! Happy Growing!

  • Janine says:

    I have baby potatoes that are smaller than a golf ball. Do I still have to cut and scab them?

    • Becky says:

      You can plant any potato without cutting and scabbing but, if there are lots of eyes, you may make the pot choked with a few too many plants. This year I got “mini potatoes” that are no bigger than the size of a lima bean. I certainly won’t be cutting those.

  • Susanne Jolley says:

    Growing in cloth containers and they are doing awesome… almost ready to flower. Only get morning sun and keep them watered. Thanks!!

  • Pamela Shiels says:

    Helpful thanks.


Catherine Sherriffs

Editor at Garden Culture Magazine

Catherine is a Canadian award-winning journalist who worked as a reporter and news anchor in Montreal’s radio and television scene for 10 years. A graduate of Concordia University, she left the hustle and bustle of the business after starting a family. Now, she’s the editor and a writer for Garden Culture Magazine while also enjoying being a mom to her three young kids. Her interests include great food, gardening, fitness, animals, and anything outdoors.