Indiana is not the best place for growing potatoes, given the state’s somewhat shorter growing season and potatoes requiring about 100 days to mature. If you want to sow these crops here, you must do so at the right moment.
Generally, the planting time for potatoes is around March 17 to May 14 under frost-free weather. Read below to know when to plant potatoes in Indiana.
Table of Contents
- Best Time to Plant Potatoes in Indiana
- Different Potato Varieties to Plant in Indiana
- Factors to Consider When Planting Potatoes in Indiana
- Caring for and Harvesting Potatoes in Indiana
Best Time to Plant Potatoes in Indiana
1. Plant indoors and outdoors in spring from March to May
The best season for planting potatoes in Indiana is spring.
Though the state has, on average, about 170 days when the temperature would be above freezing, it is better to give potatoes a head start in developing here. You can do so by sowing them indoors two to four weeks before the last frost and moving them outside when the weather is warm and the soil is dry and workable.
Given that Indiana has its final frost around April 3 to May 4, outdoor seeding in April and May makes sense. As for growing potatoes indoors in containers, four weeks before these dates mean a planting time of March 6 to April 6.
Gardeners can refer to the table below to determine the planting dates for some places in Indiana.
2. How late can you plant potatoes in Indiana?
It’s vital that your potatoes mature before the first frost and are stored before extreme cold can harm them. Tubers that are subject to freezing conditions may develop black foliage, have dead shoots, or rot and become gray.
To avoid these problems, look up the first frost where you live and deduct from it the days your cultivar takes to mature. The result will be your final planting date.
Given that Indiana is in zone 6b to zone 5b, the state will have its average first frost on:
- October 15 in zone 5, which is in central Indiana and northern Indiana
- November 1 in zone 6a or southern Indiana, excluding Evansville and other areas in the southernmost parts of the state
- October 15 to 31 in zone 6b or the remaining localities
Suppose you live in zone 5 and grow red potatoes, which take 90 days to mature, your latest planting date will be approximately July 17. To determine when to sow late potatoes, look up the variety you have and do a similar calculation.
But considering that Indiana’s first frost ranges from October 4 to November 2, if we use 100 days as the maturation period for potatoes, the latest time you can grow taters is in July or June.
Different Potato Varieties to Plant in Indiana
Now that you know the planting calendar Indiana has, note down the best potatoes to grow in Indiana for the best chance at growing healthy crops.
|Red potatoes||Red Norland||Good for salads and gravies. Matures in 90 to 100 days.|
|Dark Red Norland||Excellent for mashing and boiling. Sweet and quick to grow in 60–75 days.|
|Red Pontiac||Stores well and is ideal for fresh consumption. Mid-season crop that matures in 80 days.|
|White potatoes||Superior||Versatile variety that suits baking, boiling, and many other methods of cooking. High-yield and uniform in appearance, Superior potatoes grow in 80 to 90 days.|
|Kennebec||Soft and fluffy with high sugar content. Matures in 90 to 120 days.|
|Gold Rush||A versatile cooking ingredient, can be boiled, fried, or baked. Matures in 80 to 100 days.|
|Others||Yukon Gold||Waxy potatoes with a buttery and creamy texture. Matures in 80 to 95 days.|
|All Blue||Drought-resistant with vibrant blue flesh, this variety is perfect for baking and boiling and will mature in 100 to 120 days.|
|Butterfinger||Nutty potatoes that mature in 90 to 120 days.|
Factors to Consider When Planting Potatoes in Indiana
1. Type of seeds
When picking potato starts for garden, it’s best that you choose disease-free seed potatoes rather than the ones from supermarkets, which have been treated with growth inhibitors that prevent them from putting out shoots.
2. The soil’s condition
Sow potatoes when the soil is at least 55℉ and under 80 degrees. As for what type of soil do potatoes grow best in, the answer is well-drained, loamy soil with a pH of 5.2 for the best scab resistance. If you cannot aim for this exact number, an acidity of up to 6.5 is acceptable.
Fertilize the ground according to the results of your soil test. If you did not conduct one, use a balanced N-P-K formula and apply it 10 cm or 4 inches away from where you intend to put your potatoes. About two pounds per 100 square feet should suffice.
4. Planting site
Select a place that receives full sun to encourage proper development. Note that this site should be away from turnips, onions, carrots, and asparagus. Avoid areas where you’ve previously grown plants in the nightshade family.
You should also plant your potatoes in a new spot every year to minimize risks of disease like blight.
Caring for and Harvesting Potatoes in Indiana
- Hill up your potatoes to cover the roots and tubers with soil. Having only the top of the foliage above ground means your taters won’t turn bitter or green in color. Begin hilling when the crops are six to eight inches tall, and do this task during mornings when the plant is upright and not droopy.
- If a frost is expected despite careful planning of your seeding time, cover the potatoes with fleece or mulch them with straw to ward off the cold.
- It’s also vital to water the soil whenever it’s dry, with one to two inches of moisture a week. Cease irrigation only when the plant is mature and ready for harvest, when the foliage starts to die and flowers appear.
- Use a fork or spade to unearth the tubers by poking the surrounding soil. Harvest potatoes under dry, warm weather and avoid washing the vegetables after, unless you plan to eat the tubers immediately.
- Store the taters in a cool, dark area with temperatures of 38 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid placing them near produce that releases ethylene gas, such as apples, bananas, and mangoes, which can shorten storage time.
What are the growing stages of potatoes?
The plant timeline for potatoes from seeding to maturity includes five stages: sprouting (15 to 30 days), vegetative growth (30 to 70 days), tuber formation or initiation (two weeks), tuber bulking (45 to 60 days), and finally, maturity.
When to grow vegetables in Indiana?
Here is the Indiana vegetable planting calendar for some common crops.
- Four to six weeks before the last frost: broccoli, onion, mustard, spinach, cabbage, peas
- Two to four weeks before the last frost: carrot, lettuce, celery, cauliflower, parsnip
- After the last frost: cucumber, tomato, sweet potato, squash, eggplant, sweet corn (cucumber, sweet potato, squash, and eggplants should be grown later, two weeks after the final frost)
- One to two months before the first frost: beet, kale, collards, lettuce, radish
Is it hard to grow potatoes? Not really. Potatoes are ideal for beginners, and provided you know when to plant potatoes in Indiana, a harvest in summer or fall is not far off.
What are you waiting for? Buy some seed potatoes at the farmers’ market or gardening stores and start sowing them.