How long does it take to grow potatoes? Here's what to expect, from planting to harvesting

They're a grow-your-own staple, but how long do potatoes take to grow? Really?

Potatoes growing in a garden
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A. A. Milne famously declared that anyone who really likes potatoes must be a 'pretty decent sort of fellow', so we imagine the celebrated author would have an incredibly high opinion of anyone who plants spuds in their garden. So, how long does it take to grow potatoes?

Learning how to grow potatoes – whether in soil, in pots, or in space-saving grow bags – is a must for anyone looking to leap aboard the grow-your-own bandwagon (not least of all because they're one of the easiest vegetables to master).

If you're chomping at the bit to harvest your tatties, though, it's worth noting that there's no real hard and fast rule when it comes to sussing out how long it takes to grow potatoes. In fact, it's largely dependent on the variety you choose and the planting conditions you're working with.

How long does it take to grow potatoes? 

One of the best things to plant in a small vegetable garden (and incredibly tasty to boot), it's little wonder that potatoes remain one of the most popular crops around.

When sussing out your spuds' growing timeline, however, it's important to respect their individual needs and remember, too, that patience is a virtue. Especially in the world of gardening.

'Knowing which variety of potato you are growing will help you to know how long it will take for the potatoes to grow,' says Morris Hankinson, director of Hopes Grove Nurseries.

Morris Hankinson of Hopes Grove Nurseries
Morris Hankinson

Morris Hankinson is the founder and managing director of Hopes Grove Nurseries Ltd, the UK’s only specialist grower-retailer of hedging plants. He established the thriving business in 1992, shortly after graduating with a Commercial Horticulture Degree from Writtle College, Essex. 

Freshly harvested potatoes

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Explaining that potatoes require a fairly long growing season (which ranges anywhere between 12 and 16 weeks), Morris adds that this timeline doesn't include the chitting process.

That's right: chitting potatoes (which basically means popping your seed potatoes in a well-lit spot so that they produce strong, short, stubby green shoots before planting) will add another few weeks to the process – although doing so will mean that your potatoes grow more quickly.

Early varieties (first or second earlies)

How long does it take to grow potatoes? Well, you'll likely be pleased to know that early varieties tend to grow more quickly than most other spuds, which means you'll be able to free up space for another crop come midsummer.

'If you are growing first and second early potatoes such as ‘Rocket’, ‘Orla’, ‘Maris Peer’ and ‘Charlotte’, these should be ready to harvest from June and July,' says Morris. 

'First earlies will take about 10 weeks from planting until harvest, and second earlies from 12 to 16 weeks,' he adds.

Maincrop varieties

Potato plants with flowers

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Maincrop varieties might be in the ground a lot longer, through to late summer or early autumn, but they tend to produce a bigger crop and far larger potatoes, so your patience will be well rewarded.

'Maincrop potatoes such as ‘King Edward’ and ‘Desiree’ will take 16 to 22 weeks to harvest because they can be left longer in the ground,' says Morris, adding that the appearance of flowers on your potato plants means it's time to dig for victory.

'Don't leave them too long, though, or garden slugs might get to them before you are able to harvest and enjoy them yourself!' he cautions.


How long does it take for a potato to be fully grown?

As you've likely gathered by this point, you'll have to wait a wee while to harvest your potatoes.

'Harvest times will usually vary, depending on whether you're planting early or maincrop potatoes, and whereabouts you are in the UK,' says Christopher O'Donoghue, one of the co-directors at Gardens Revived.

Christopher O'Donoghue, one of the directors of Gardens Revived
Christopher O'Donoghue

A gardener with over a decade of experience under his belt, Christopher set up Gardens Revived with his brother, Andrew, in 2018  to create a thriving family business. Together, they have worked on residential gardens, listed buildings and gardens, flower shows and large estates with some exceeding 70 acres – many with historical significance.

As a general rule, he adds that early season potatoes will usually need around 12 weeks before they're ready, while maincrop potatoes can take anywhere between 16 and 22 weeks.

'They can be tricky to harvest, as you can't see them where they're hiding beneath the soil, so carefully lift one up to suss out the size,' he adds. 'You can keep them in the ground until you need them, but keep an eye on those pesky slugs.'

How can I speed up my potato growth?

'It is possible, even though not an exact science, to speed up the process of growing potatoes by growing them in a container or potato grow bag,' says Morris. 

'These can be positioned in a place with full sun and a well sheltered or grown in a greenhouse. This will ensure the soil they are growing in is warm which will speed up the rate they grow and be ready to harvest.'

Essentially, it will take a long time to grow potatoes to perfection (or long in the world of gardening, at least), but we swear they will be well worth the wait when you cook up your first batch.

Kayleigh Dray
Acting Content Editor

Kayleigh Dray became Ideal Home’s Acting Content Editor in the spring of 2023, and is very excited to get to work. She joins the team after a decade-long career working as a journalist and editor across a number of leading lifestyle brands, both in-house and as a freelancer.