When you find tiny white protrusions on your potatoes that weren’t there the last time you checked, chances are the potatoes have started sprouting. These tubers do not need a substrate to sprout. Although you can still cook and eat the potatoes after removing the sprouts, you can also plant the tuber so long as you know how to store them.
If you can’t plant sprouted potatoes right away, you can store them by growing them in containers indoors until they are ready to be transplanted outdoors. You can also leave the sprouted potatoes away from the others in a place with enough sunlight and give them some time to grow some more.
In the rest of the article, I will discuss how to properly store sprouted potatoes to keep them in great shape before the planting season. Read on to learn more!
1. Plant Sprouted Potatoes in Containers
Potatoes that have sprouted have already broken dormancy. You can still consume them after removing the sprouts. However, they may contain some chemicals that can be toxic to humans when consumed.
An alternative is to plant the sprouted potatoes into the soil. However, if the outside temperatures are too low for planting, you can grow them in a container indoors. Many potato varieties can grow well inside containers but may not produce as much yield as when grown into the ground.
You can plant the sprouted potatoes temporarily in containers indoors while waiting for the outside temperatures to become warmer. Cut the potatoes to separate the buds or sprouts. One portion with one or a few buds can create one new plant.
Prepare a pot at least 15 inches (38 cm) deep and 15 inches (38 cm) in diameter, filled with at least 10 inches (25 cm) of moist and sterile sandy soil. Potatoes prefer well-draining soil to prevent the tuber from rotting.
You can plant 3-4 sprouted potato cuttings in each container. Let the cuttings sit on at least 6 inches (15 cm) and cover them with 3-4 inches (8-10 cm) of soil. Be sure to position the tubers with the sprouts pointing upwards and keep them four inches (10 cm) apart.
Water the pots thoroughly once a week or add enough water once the upper two inches (5 cm) of the soil layer is dry. After three to four weeks, you will find the potato seedlings germinating from the soil.
When the temperature outside rises to approximately 45 °F (7.2 °C), you can dig enough space in the ground to transplant the potato seedlings from the pot. Keep the seedlings at least 12 inches (30.5 cm) apart in the ground.
If you’re just about to buy your potatoes and would like to know how long it takes them to sprout, check out my other article where I cover the topic in depth: How Long Does It Take Store Bought Potatoes to Sprout?
2. Keep the Sprouted Potatoes Away From Other Potatoes
If you wash store-bought potatoes before storage, you remove the sprouting inhibitors sprayed on the potatoes by producers to prevent them from sprouting during transport and while on display at the grocery store.
You also introduce moisture to the potatoes, making them more likely to sprout. So if you don’t want to plant the sprouted potatoes into the soil just yet, you can leave them on the counter away from other potatoes that you plan to consume.
If the potatoes sprouted while in storage, it means the conditions were ideal for them to grow. However, if they were stored in a dark cabinet, you may find long, spindly sprouts. These sprouts are not healthy, and you may want to break them off.
Good quality sprouts are those that are short and stubby. These small buds will come out of potato eyes if the tuber receives enough light. So if the potatoes sprouted while on display on your kitchen counter, you can consider them for planting.
You don’t have to cut the potatoes immediately if you don’t plan to plant them in the soil. You can leave the sprouted tubers in the same place and move the others elsewhere if you don’t want them to sprout.
Spread the sprouted potatoes in a basket or crate. Ideally, you should keep the temperature in the room at approximately 50 °F (10 °C) to keep the tuber viable while preventing it from growing too quickly.
At temperatures between 60 and 65 °F (15.6 – 18.3 °C), the shoots will grow too fast, and you may need to plant them in pots. So if you cannot keep the sprouted potatoes in a cooler room, you may want to consider temporarily planting them in pots of soil.
You can then cut the tubers into cubes based on the number of sprouts. Dry them before planting them into the ground two weeks before the last spring frost date when the temperatures rise to optimal levels.
3. Place the Potatoes Upright in a Bright Room
You can place the potatoes individually in a small box or clear bowl to give them enough space apart from the others. Keep them upright to help the shoots grow in the right direction. Letting the tubers receive enough sunlight will prevent the shoots from growing sideways.
It helps to place the setup next to an east-facing or south-facing window so that the potatoes can receive enough sunlight. If this isn’t possible, you can grow the potatoes under artificial light for at least 8-10 hours a day.
To prevent insects or rodents from feeding on the potatoes, you can cover the setup with a white nylon mesh big enough to accommodate the new growth. Ensure that the mesh won’t restrict the development of the buds.
You can use the Feitore Fruit Protection Bags (available on Amazon.com). The mesh bag is just the right size to accommodate one potato tuber and its growing buds. Moreover, the white cloth allows enough light to pass through. At the same time, the narrow openings prevent insects from getting to your potatoes.
You may also need to expose your potatoes to brighter light if you plan to cover them with a mesh.
4. Place the Potatoes on Egg Cartons
Egg cartons are an excellent makeshift container for sprouted potatoes since they can keep the tubers upright. However, they might not be able to support the weight of the larger potatoes. Some potatoes might also be too big for the egg cartons.
Alternatively, you can use synthetic egg trays, which are sturdier than egg cartons. You may need to find a bowl or a sturdy container for larger potatoes.
If several groups of buds come out of the potato, you can slice the tuber into cubes before planting. Allow the cuttings to dry for two days while covered in a white mesh to prevent pests from feeding on them.
5. Soak the Bottom of the Potato in a Water Cup
If you only have a few weeks before the planting season, you can speed the rooting or sprouting of your potatoes by soaking them in water. However, remember not to soak the whole potato in water.
You can skewer the potato using two pieces of wooden skewers shaped in an X to prevent it from rotating and to keep the sprouts facing up.
Hang the skewered potatoes inside a cup filled with enough water to touch the bottom of the tuber. This setup is enough to keep the tuber hydrated without overfeeding it. Refill the cup with enough fresh water when necessary.
Place the setup next to an east-facing window for sufficient sunlight. Doing this can help your potatoes grow roots and shoots faster. In one to two weeks, when the shoots are about an inch (2.5 cm) long, the tubers will be ready for transplant into your garden soil.
6. Bury the Potatoes in Damp Sand
This process is different from planting the sprouted potatoes temporarily in containers. In this case, you don’t have to cut the potatoes. You can just bury them in damp sand, especially if you still have months before you can plant them out in your garden.
Leave the setup in a cool room (approximately 45 – 50 °F / 7.2 – 10 °C) safe from the frost. You don’t need to add water to the sand. You can carefully dig out the tubers for transplant during the planting season.
This method can help you keep your mind off the potatoes and just go back to them when you’re ready to plant them outside.
7. Place the Potato in a Mesh Bag and Hang
If you have enough space in your kitchen for hanging some tubers, that would be a great way to store sprouted potatoes. You can place one potato in each mesh bag and hang it by the window. That way, you can keep it safe from rodents and pets.
However, one downside to this method is that some of the shoots might break or fail to grow properly because the mesh is hugging the tuber tightly.
More importantly, you need to hang the potato in a room where you can keep the temperature from 45 – 50 °F (7.2 – 10 °C) to prevent the shoots from growing too fast.