Potatoes are unique plants as they don’t grow from seeds like most other plants. Instead, the same potato that you can eat today can be used to grow a new plant later if the right conditions are met. Let’s break things down a little.
The parts of the potato that we eat and enjoy are called tubers. These parts are storages of nutrients for the potato, which it will use later on to grow the sprouts.
Once the sprouts begin to appear, it means that the potato is reaching the end of its current life cycle and using the stored nutrients in the tubers to sprout. Essentially, the potato has ripened so much that it’s now beginning to rot.
If you want to plant potatoes, then you’d want to speed up that sprouting process. So, how to sprout potatoes fast?
How to Sprout Potatoes Fast?
To sprout potatoes fast, you need to keep them slightly moisturized in a relatively cool environment. You can also store them next to onions or apples, which will speed up the sprouting process by emitting gasses.
Keep in mind that slightly moisturized doesn’t mean standing water. Keeping your potatoes in water will lead to rot and sometimes irreversible damage. Water is essential for the growth of any plant, even during the sprouting stage. Yet, water soaking will cause molding and fungus formation.
What we mean by slightly moisturized is a place that’s not too dry. For example, keeping your potatoes in water-tight dry storage will actually slow down the sprouting process. There needs to be some degree of moisturization lying around.
A box in the kitchen laid with a moist rag is a good example of a place that gets some water vapor in the air from time to time. Many people accidentally sprouted their potatoes at home by leaving them for a while in the kitchen.
As for the temperature, plants have variable temperature requirements. Luckily, the requirements to sprout potatoes aren’t hard to meet. You can get the fastest potato-sprouting results if you keep the temperature between 61–66ºF (16–19ºC.)
This temperature is easy to achieve, and it’s mostly present in spring. That’s why planting potatoes usually begins as early as March. If you live in a cool area, you won’t have to bother much with the temperature. Your house temperature should be good for your potatoes to sprout.
If you want even more sprouting speed, you can use onions and apples. Onions and apples are good companions for potatoes if you want to speed up the sprouting process. People who aren’t interested in sprouting potatoes should refrain from storing onions and potatoes/apples together.
Onions and apples release ethylene gas into the air. Ethylene gas is considered a signal for fruit ripening. The more ethylene in the air, the faster a fruit or a vegetable will ripen. As we mentioned earlier, faster ripening in potatoes means faster sprouting.
Potatoes do produce small amounts of ethylene gas on their own, and that’s why they sprout, to begin with. However, an external source of ethylene like an apple or an onion will speed up the sprouting process of a potato.
What Triggers Potatoes to Sprout?
The factors that help with potato sprouting are proper light, slight moisture, ethylene gas, and suitable temperature. When you have one or more of these factors, you can consider a potato to be triggered to sprout.
A sprouting potato is essentially a potato that’s beginning its rotting stage or the end of the current cycle of life. So, it’s bound to happen anyway. What you can do is either slow down or speed up the process.
It takes three to four weeks for a sprouting potato to be ready to plant. The more of the sprouting-favoring factors you meet, the more you learn towards the three-week mark than the four-week mark.
Do Potatoes Sprout Faster in the Dark?
Potatoes do sprout faster in the dark. But if you’re going to plant them afterward, it’s better not to sprout them in the dark. The proper amount of light during sprouting is needed to produce a healthy, strong potato plant.
When you’re sprouting potatoes to plant them, you should aim more for quality over speed. Potatoes, like most other plants, need light for healthy growth. When you store a sprouting potato in the dark, the sprouts will grow faster because the potato is trying to seek the light.
You may be excited to see faster growth in the dark, but that doesn’t mean healthy growth. A sprout growing in the dark will give a white and unhealthy growth. That’s because sprouts without light are constantly losing nutrients and unable to undergo photosynthesis.
Photosynthesis is a process that plants make to synthesize their own food. As the sprout seeks light in the dark, it’s gradually losing its food storage until it becomes an unhealthy sprout.
That being said, sprouting potatoes in the light will considerably slow down the process because the potato doesn’t need to sprout in search of sunlight. So what should we do?
The trick is to store a sprouting potato in a place where indirect sunlight reaches the potato from time to time. That way, you encourage the sprouts to grow without hindering the photosynthesis process.
Can I Plant Potatoes if they Haven’t Sprouted?
You can plant potatoes that haven’t sprouted and end up with a perfectly healthy plant. However, potatoes that haven’t sprouted may not start the growth process to begin with. You can get higher chances for potato growth if you sprout it first before planting.
That being said, if you’re reading this after you’ve already planted your potatoes, then don’t despair. You can still boost the growth chances of your potatoes by covering them with rich compost.
On the other hand, if you’re reading this now before planting your un-sprouted potatoes, then you still have a chance to sprout your potatoes before planting them.
How to sprout potatoes fast? Just speed up the factors that are already causing sprouting. Give them some indirect light, keep them slightly moisturized, and make sure they are stored at the right temperature.
You can hasten the process a bit more if you use apples and onions because of the ethylene gas they produce. Happy sprouting.