Do you live in USDA hardiness Zone 8 and wonder when to plant potatoes?
Potatoes grow best in cooler temperatures, so getting the timing right for planting is crucial for successful spring and fall crops in this more temperate zone.
To help you set your seeds on time, I put together this handy guide on when to plant potatoes in Zone 8. I also include the best places to grow potatoes within the zone, and suitable varieties of potatoes to plant, so let’s dive right in!
The Best Time To Plant Potatoes In Zone 8
The best time to begin planting potatoes in zone 8 is in January or February when the soil temperature reaches at least 40°F. Potato growing your seed potatoes in August or early September should provide 90 to 120 days for full crop production before winter frosts.
When Can I Plant Potatoes In Zone 8?
Zone 8 includes a large portion of the southern US as well as western coastal regions. These areas typically experience hot summers and mild winter temperatures.
While the zone shows the last possible frost as April 1st and the first frost date as December 1st, the times can vary widely from year to year and per specific area within the zone.
Potatoes form more tubers in cooler soils. As temperatures rise to near 75 degrees Fahrenheit, tuber growth begins to slow and will pretty much stop after hitting 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Knowing how long your variety of potato takes to mature will determine the best time to get them planted in your garden before being negatively affected by warm soil temperature.
So, let’s break down the right time for spring and fall potato planting in Zone 8 for optimal results.
The best time to begin planting is in January or February, when the soil temperature reaches at least 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Starting your seed potatoes as early as possible is essential when you live in Zone 8, so you can harvest your crop before the heat of summer.
Many gardeners in this zone ignore actual soil temperatures and plant when the soil is workable down to a depth of 12 to 18 inches.
August or early September planting of seed potatoes should provide 90 to 120 days for full crop production before winter frosts. If you are in a time crunch, look for varieties such as Irish Cobbler or Norland that mature in less than 90 days.
Depending on the specific dates of the first frost within the zip code of your Zone 8 area, you can select a variety of potato that will mature safely before this time.
Because of the longer, hotter summers found in Zone 8, most gardeners forgo fall potato planting.
Why? Because potatoes grow best when nighttime temps fall into the low 50’s and daytime temps stay near 80 degrees Fahrenheit or below, which can be rare in August or even September in some areas.
Best Areas In Zone 8 For Potato Growing
There are two growing areas within Zone 8, known as Zone 8a and Zone 8b. You may be happy to hear that growing potatoes are relatively simple in both zones if you get the seeds into the ground as early as possible in the late winter or early spring.
Zone 8 tends to receive an adequate amount of rainfall and plenty of sunshine, which helps potato crops grow well.
In Zone 8a, the best areas for growing potatoes are:
- South Carolina
In Zone 8b, the best areas for growing potatoes are:
Always remember that plant hardiness zones provide a general guideline for selecting plants for your garden. The zones do not take into account local microclimates that can affect small portions within the area.
It’s best to use the firsthand knowledge you gather yourself over years of gardening or ask local growers or county extensions for advice if you are unsure of frost dates or planting times.
Types Of Potatoes To Grow In Zone 8
Potato varieties vary in growing time and also in taste and texture. For gardeners in Zone 8, you can plant seed potatoes reasonably early, which means you can select just about any variety and have it grow well.
But, by choosing shorter-maturity varieties, you can also opt to plant into early spring or wait for the cooler temperatures of fall planting.
You can even stagger plantings over several weeks to reduce the stress of having to harvest all your potatoes all at once.
I suggest these varieties for Zone 8 planting:
- Red Pontiac
- Yukon Gold
- Irish Cobbler
- Red Norchip (Norchief)
- Cranberry Red
These varieties are a popular choice for gardeners in Zone 8 because they taste great and are hardy to different soil conditions. The amount of natural rainfall and abundant sunshine also helps the potatoes grow quickly with less effort than the occasional hilling.
Many of these varieties also mature between 80 to 100 days, which increases the success of high yields at harvest time.
Living in Zone 8 can be a real boon for gardeners looking to grow potatoes. The more temperate climate means you can get your potatoes into the ground sooner and have delicious potatoes on your table by summer.
I hope this guide on when to plant potatoes in Zone 8 helps you select the right variety and planting time so you can enjoy the bounty of both spring and fall potato crops!