Seed Swaps

Does it matter which way the eyes go in the ground?

20 Feb 2009

Just wondering… does it really matter if the meat of the potato hits the ground or does the eye need to be facing up or down? Does it really matter? Just curious.

Another thing.. how much meat has to stay on the potato before the eye will sprout. Can EACH eye be cut out and will sprout?

Thanks. Last year’s potato crop was terrible.. just looking for suggestions.



I have not grown potato but I have read up on it. My first instinct was to plant the eyes upward.

But, when I think about it, roots tend to sprout from the eyes. So in that case, you plant the roots (eyes) downward.

I also read that you need to cut a good chunk of the starch with at least 2-3 eyes per chunk.

Posted on 27 Feb 09 (over 6 years ago)

well that’s not good news for me. Thanks for letting me know. I cut off ONE eye for each chunk and planted them eyes upward. It will be amazing if they grow at all then. I’ll keep you posted. Thanks for the news! I’ll start a new row and try it again.

Posted on 27 Feb 09 (over 6 years ago)

No problem. Hope it works out for you. I tried to grow potato, but while drying my chunks out they disappeared. I think my pets got to them… oops.


Posted on 27 Feb 09 (over 6 years ago)


Folia Helper

United Kingdom9a

The sprouts that come from the eyes are the new plant shoots, so it is definitely better to plant them with the eyes upwards. They will still find their way to the light if you don’t, but they’ll take longer about it. The tubers you’re hoping for are produced off that stem above the seed potato and below the ground, hence the importance of deep planting and/or earthing up the stems as the potatoes grow.

In answer to the second question, the ideal seed potato is the size of a hen’s egg, with two to three sprouts. Potatoes of that description can be planted whole; larger potatoes with sprouts from different parts of the tuber can be cut successfully, but I wouldn’t split one that has, say, 6 shoots from one end. Just rub off the surplus to leave two or three healthy shoots.

Finally, the accepted wisdom is that most seed potatoes benefit from chitting before planting… this means leaving them in a cool, well-lit place, with the rose end uppermost to encourage the shoots to grow for about 6 weeks (or more) before planting. Healthy shoots will be about an inch long and green or dark in colour… not the spindly shoots you get from leaving potatoes in the dark. You still have time to do this, then select which if any potatoes to cut, and plant out in early to mid April.

If you do choose to cut seed potatoes, do so about a week before you intend to plant and leave the cut edge to dry out and form a callous; this minimises the chance of soil-borne bacteria harming the tuber on planting. More advice from the Royal Horticultural Society here:

Posted on 28 Feb 09 (over 6 years ago)


Folia Helper

United Kingdom9a

It occurs to me to add (based on your comment that last year’s crop was poor), you need to know whether the tubers you’re planting are first earlies, second earlies, or maincrop in order to know when to harvest them. Assuming you know the variety, you should be able to find this information online. I’m growing potatoes in all three categories and the harvest time varies from June right through to October / November… you could expect disappointing results if you harvested a maincrop variety in, say, August.

The other thing that threatens your potato harvest is late blight… it’s almost guaranteed to happen, the only question is when it happens, what you do about it and how much damage it does (which varies by variety). First earlies are usually harvested before late blight strikes; for maincrop, you want to know how blight-resistant they are, to determine whether to cut down the haulms or just cut out blighted parts and keep them growing. If this isn’t a subject with which you are familiar, it would pay you to read up on it.

Assuming you know your potato variety, you can find various data on trials and blight/virus resistance at

Posted on 28 Feb 09 (over 6 years ago)

In addition I have found a picture with a little sprout growing (eyes up)

So your decision was right after all!

Posted on 05 Mar 09 (over 6 years ago)

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