Getting store-bought potatoes to sprout

karinl(BC Z8)March 18, 2009

Found some unusually good potatoes (purple ones that are waxy and very purple) at the grocery store, and of course I'm tempted to try to start some in the garden. I have done a little background reading, including this thread:

and understand there are potential problems, even if I can get them to sprout, but I'd like to try. Problem is, there is not a sprout to be seen on these little spuds and I suspect they've been treated with an inhibitor. Is there a trick to getting them to sprout in that case, or am I just out of luck? If they're not going to sprout anyway I might as well eat them and enjoy them, rather than letting them grow old and mushy...

And if I can't get these started, can anyone recommend a variety that is like them? My family doesn't like mealy potatoes, as most purple potatoes are, and a lot of purple potatoes have a lot of white (or brown) in them.

I'd appreciate any guidance.


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ruthieg__tx(z8 TX)

I have never had a problem getting store bought potatoes to sprout...I have heard that some growers use something to keep them from sprouting ...but truthfully...I think most of them don't ... Try it...

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 10:23PM
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Some of the seed potatoes I bought last week didn't have any sprouts on the yet either. I'm pre-sprouting mine indoors this year. They're showing signs of sprouts after about a week.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tales of a Transplanted Gardener

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 10:50PM
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jonnys(9 Orlando Fl)

If your hungry I would eat them! But seriously, if they have no sprouts, they most likely need time. If you eat them you can maybe go back and get more, possibly ones that have more eyes that will sprout, or just wait. Ive been waiting about 2 weeks now for these store bought spuds to sprout. So far Ive only got one to just begin to sprout. Im guessing it just takes some time.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 10:42AM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Thanks for the encouragement. One of the varieties you name on your blog, GreenBean, may the one I'm looking for. So I won't despair if there are in fact no tricks to getting reluctant sprouters to get on with it. I have been waiting for about 2 weeks too, and wondered if the conditions I was keeping them in could make a difference.


    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 3:31PM
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You might try putting them in some light. You can plant the small ones whole, but the larger ones should be cut. Seed potatoes can usually be found dirt cheap locally. Specialty seed taters can also be found but are a bit pricier--and shipping costs are very high. If you're a potato fanatic, check out Ronniger's.

Good luck,

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 4:12PM
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Do you think they may be the Purple Majesty? Those were the coolest looking potatoes!

When i was prepping my potatoes, I turned away for a minute and my thieving dog stole one of the half potato chunks of PM. I tried to salvage it (I only had 4 potatoes and they weren't very big). She had chomped it in half so I rinsed it off and cleaned up the edge with a fresh cut (the dogs really liked the slice they got). I don't think it's going to grow though. The others look pretty good and are starting to show signs of sprouting. The salvaged quarters are shriveling up. I don't know if it's the tooth holes or something about the saliva but there's a huge difference.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tales of a Transplanted Gardener

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 3:32AM
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To defeat the sprout inhibitor that is commonly applied to certain tubers, use gibberellic acid. First wash the tubers well without scrubbing off any of the skin before soaking them in a solution of gibberellic acid for 24 hrs. After 24 hrs, take them out of the solution and place them in a single layer in a warm lit area. Commonly used by farmers, gibberellic acid isn't commonly used by home gardeners, though there are a few retail sources, such as MegaGro.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 5:22AM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Thank you Brook - you know, I haven't shopped at all for seed potatoes so I don't even know what's out there; it just seemed too easy to sprout the potatoes I already had. So I will go shopping, not just for potatoes but also for gibberellic acid - thank you, SGIM, that's something I hadn't found any reference to elsewhere; I hope I can find it in a garden centre. I had found one suggestion to put the potatoes in a bag with apples and in a warm, light place, and of course if that doesn't work then neither the apples NOR the potatoes will be edible!

As for what variety they are, I did some image searching for the varieties you mention, Green Bean, and I don't quite think either one matches - maybe Purple Majesty, but even those have some white showing in the photos I found. I've been buying and eating purple potatoes for years, and have not encountered any like this before. These are PURPLE. Not a shred of white, and no grayish purple. Maybe yours looked like that, but the photos I found didn't. I'll hunt around for them on line and in stores, and let you know what I find.

Many thanks again for the help,


    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 1:14PM
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No one mentioned it yet, but organic potatoes do not have the inhibitor on them. Go to a health food store, buy the small potatoes (that will save you some cutting later), put them in the basement for a few weeks, and plant them whole once they show eyes.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 3:10PM
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I know this is a really old thread but I have only just started a veg garden this year. Living in Central Florida does have it's challenges I can tell you so I thought I could try some seed potatoes this winter before the hot weather arrives by March next year,which from what I have heard and read, will be their death.....they are Organic spuds (1 pound each of Russian Fingerling and Yukon Gold I think) ordered online back in October and only arrived finally last week (Dec) but no sprouts on any of them yet.....ugh! Ok so they tell me to put an onion/apple or banana in the paper bag to speed up the growth, I've got the onion in each now for 2 weeks but still nothing.....can anybody help here, really would appreciate your input as I'm desperate to get them in the ground before Xmas to have enough 'cool' weather time for them to grow, thanks :o)

    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 3:05PM
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gardenman101(Z6 Spingfield, Ma)

I thought i read somewhere on the forum that if you put an apple in a paperbag with the potatos that it would force them into sprouting. Am I wrong to assume that is correct?

    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 11:24PM
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Thanks gardenman, I heard that too about the apple. Didn't do a thing for me so last night I googled some more and found many people say to place them in something like an open egg carton to hold them steady, with any eyes facing upward and leave them in a bright lit area like a window sill out of direct sun. So this is now where my spuds are sitting.....I'll update when I see some action from them :o)

    Bookmark   December 15, 2012 at 2:33PM
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I've planted seed potatoes with no sprouts and got fine plants out of them. I planted red potatoes from the supermarket this year, and the last few spuds from that harvest all have sprouts on them now. Different varieties have different storage times. Some just won't keep over the winter without sprouting, and others resist sprouting for a long time. None of the blue potatoes I planted late this year show any signs of sprouting yet.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2012 at 6:10PM
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There is a new hybrid, last couple of years that is a solid purple.
That is what you probably have.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2012 at 7:06PM
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The purple strain I grow is Adirondack Blue.

I do have one interesting story about trying to sprout storebought purple potatoes though. First batch I got during the summer I tried everything I could think of to get them to sprout, none of them did, they all rotted before they got so much as an eye.

Second batch I got months later when it was too late to start them I just intended to eat them, and they sprouted on me within a week.

Stupid potatoes, taunting me.

This post was edited by Edymnion on Mon, Dec 17, 12 at 9:09

    Bookmark   December 15, 2012 at 11:58PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Funny this thread should wake up as I just noticed that the purple potatoes I bought last week are sprouting. I was quite pleased until I noticed that it is kind of a bad time, now that you mention it. Ah well, the potato growers have to make a living.

Still don't know the strain, but they are still to an extent even purpler than Adirondack Blue looks on the net.

Karin L

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 12:44AM
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Actually, this is a good time to plant them. The tubers will grow roots and work on beefing themselves up during the winter without much if any top growth. Long as it doesn't freeze down to the level the tubers are, you'll get a good head start on next season.

I've seen people recommend digging your trench extra deep and then filling most of it with grass clippings and/or mulch that will decay over the winter and release a bit of heat to keep them happy. Then come spring they'll shoot up and really put out a lot of potatoes that season.

Seeing as how you're in zone 8, you should be fine with just planting them in the ground and forgetting about them until spring. Not like you'd get a prolonged freeze that would do more than freeze the top inch or two of dirt anyway.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 2:36PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Thank you - I wouldn't have thought of that. You're quite right we don't get deep freezes. I will only have to find a way to remember where they are :-)

Karin L

    Bookmark   December 25, 2012 at 5:38PM
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