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Planting Peanut Seeds: How Do You Plant Peanut Seeds

Baseball just wouldn’t be baseball without peanuts. Until relatively recently (I’m dating myself here…), every national airline presented you with the ubiquitous bag of peanuts on flights. And then there’s Elvis’ favorite, the peanut butter and banana sandwich! You get the gist; peanuts are entwined into the fabric of America. For that reason, you might be wondering about growing peanuts from seeds. How do you plant peanut seeds? Read on to find out about planting peanut seeds at home.

About Planting Peanut Seeds

If you’re interested in trying your hand at growing peanuts in the garden, there are a few things you should know. For instance, did you know that what we refer to as peanuts are actually not nuts but legumes, relatives of peas and beans? The self-pollinating plants bloom above ground while the pods develop beneath the soil. Inside each pod are the seeds.

Once the blossoms are fertilized, the petals fall away, and the stalks, or pegs, located just under the ovaries, elongate and bend towards the earth, growing into the soil. Underground, the ovary enlarges to form the peanut pod.

Although peanuts are thought to be a warm weather crop only propagated in the southern regions of the U.S., they can be grown in northern areas as well. To grow peanuts in cooler zones, choose an early maturing variety like “Early Spanish,” which is ready to harvest in 100 days. Plant the seed on a south-facing slope, if possible, or to get an early start, sow the peanuts seeds indoors 5-8 weeks prior to transplanting outside.

How Do You Plant Peanut Seeds?

Although you may have success planting peanuts from the grocers (raw ones, not roasted!), the best bet is to purchase them from a reputable nursery or garden center. They will come intact in the shell and must be hulled before using. Now you are ready to plant.

The peanut seeds look remarkably similar from end to end, so it’s not uncommon to wonder which way to plant a peanut seed. There is no particular end that gets plunked into the ground first as long as you remember to remove the hull beforehand. Really, growing peanuts from seed is easy and especially fun for the kids to be involved in.

Select a site that is in full sun with loose, well-draining soil. Plant the peanut seeds three weeks after the last frost and once the soil has warmed to at least 60 F. (16 C.). Also, soak the seeds overnight in water to promote more rapid germination. Then sow them to a depth of 2 inches (5 cm.), 4-6 inches apart (10-15 cm.). Seedlings will appear about a week after planting and will continue to grow slowly for the next month. If frost is a concern at this time, cover the seedlings with plastic row covers.

To start the peanut seeds indoors, fill a large bowl 2/3 full of moist potting soil. Place four peanut seeds on the top of the soil and cover them with another inch or so of soil (2.5 cm.). When the plants have sprouted, transplant them outside as above.

Once plants reach about 6 inches tall (15 cm.), cultivate carefully around them to loosen the soil. This allows the pegs to penetrate easily. Then finish by mulching with a couple inches (5 cm.) of straw or grass clippings.

Peanuts should be watered regularly by deeply soaking the plants 1-2 times per week. Watering is most crucial at 50-100 days from sowing when the pods are growing near the soil’s surface. As the plants become ready for harvest, allow the soil to dry out; otherwise, you’ll find yourself with dozens of sprouting mature peanuts!

Harvest your peanuts, or legumes, for roasting, boiling, or grounding into the best peanut butter you’ve ever eaten.

Peanuts are entwined into the fabric of America. For that reason, you might be wondering about growing peanuts from seeds. How do you plant peanut seeds? Click the article that follows to find out about planting peanut seeds at home.

How to Grow Your Own Peanuts

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Try growing peanuts in your garden! Often thought of as just a snack to be munched on, peanuts are actually a healthful and nutritious food.

Whether eaten raw or roasted or spread on bread, peanuts are an excellent source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals; have no cholesterol; and contain more protein than many meats.

The Peanut Plant

People are often surprised to find out that peanuts are not nuts at all. Actually, they are the seeds of a leguminous plant related to peas and beans.

The peanut plant is unique because its flowers grow aboveground, yet the pods containing the seeds develop in the soil.

The yellow, pea-like blossoms are self-pollinating. Once fertilized, the delicate petals fall away. The stalks (called pegs) just under the ovaries then elongate and bend toward the earth, growing into the soil. When underground, the ovary at the tip of each stalk enlarges to form a peanut pod.

How to Grow Your Own Peanuts

Although better-suited to the warmer climate of the southern U.S., peanuts have been known to grow as far north as southern Canada.

When to Plant

  • Peanuts have a long growing season (ranging from 100 to 130 frost-free days); they’re planted a few weeks after the average last frost date in the spring and often dug up anytime after the first of September.
  • The trick to raising them in the North is to choose an early-maturing variety such as “Early Spanish” (100 days) and plant on a south-facing slope, if possible. You could also get a head start to the season by sowing peanuts indoors 5 to 8 weeks before transplanting outside.

Where to Plant

  • It’s important to select a site that receives full sun.
  • Plastic row covers are recommended to protect the young plants from spring frosts.

How to Plant

  • To grow peanuts, you will actually need to start with fresh, raw, uncooked peanuts still in their shells.
  • To start inside, fill a large, four-inch-deep plastic bowl ⅔ full of moist potting soil. Shell four peanuts and place them on top of the soil; then cover with one inch of soil. Plants will sprout quickly. Transplant seedlings outside after the threat of frost has passed.
  • To plant outside, place the peanut seeds two inches deep and eight inches apart in loose, well-drained soil. (Add sand and aged compost to soil to loosen.)

Caring for Peanut Plants

  • When the plants are six inches high, cultivate around them to loosen the soil so that the pegs will penetrate it easily.
  • Then, hill them as you would potatoes and mulch with two inches of straw or grass clippings.
  • Small, yellow, pea-like flowers will develop along the lower part of the stem. After the flowers fade, the ovaries will swell, start to grow toward the ground, and then push into the soil.
  • Peanuts are harvested before frost, when the plant yellows.
  • Dig out the entire plant with a spading fork, carefully shake off most of the soil, and then hang to dry indoors for about a month.
  • The “nut” can be enjoyed raw or roasted to perfection by baking shelled or unshelled in a 350°F oven for 20 minutes.

Did You Know: It takes about 540 peanuts to make a 12-ounce jar of peanut butter.

Peanuts are thought to have originated in South America, where Peruvian Indians cultivated them at least 3,500 years ago. Besides valuing peanuts as food, the Peruvians considered them a status symbol and even used them as money—which isn’t surprising when you consider how many of us still think that we are working for peanuts.

Ever wondered where popcorn comes from? It’s also a seed plant! See our growing tips for popcorn.

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Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

Peanut soil question

Submitted by Leon Green on July 14, 2020 – 1:37am

Hello I recently started trying to grow my own peanuts I’m a brand new grower my peanut plants I’ve gotten pretty large and I produce yellow blooms already but now they’re starting produce a little tendrils just got licked it looks like a little tiny yellow blue on the end of it however the soil around my peanuts that it’s gotten kind of hard crusty at the very top how can I fix this in order for them to grow better please I would really like to know my email is gaygaboi at icloud dot com or another email is bastianbroderick at outlook dotcom. Again i greatly appreciate any advice/suggestions.

hard soil

Submitted by The Editors on July 17, 2020 – 9:27am

Add sand and aged compost to soil to loosen it.

Growing time

Submitted by Bill on November 24, 2019 – 10:35pm

Is it possible to grow peanuts, over winter in Southern California. We don’t have a “frost” and most days are in the 70’s. There are some days where it will be in the low 60’s and evenings in the 40’s, but they do not happen often. While I am going to plant them, in the spring, in one area, I want to use a combination of peanuts and clover as a cover for another area. It will probably not develop much peanuts, it should loosen the soil, but will it fix much nitrogen?

Pea nut

Submitted by Ish Kumar Arora on June 17, 2019 – 11:14am

All the Q&A seem to very informative. Can anybody inform from where to buy seeds of pea nuts any contacts/ addresses/websites. Please help

Where to get peanut seeds

Submitted by Brenda Eiland on August 25, 2019 – 4:54pm

On the web, I’ve noticed that Southern Exposure Seed Exchange has had peanuts for seed sale. In the Southern part of the US, there are local co-op stores that sell peanuts for seed. This may be true in other regions. In early spring before the last frost date anticipated, I plan to check with our rural community hardware store because of the large variety of bulk seeds they carry. Also, just buying raw peanuts in the shell (hull) might work by shelling them, then drying the seeds and storing them correctly until planting time. Hope this information helps.

Seeds jumping out of the ground

Submitted by Donald Galloway on June 10, 2019 – 8:09am

I planted my seeds about 2 weeks ago and for the past 3 days I am finding germinated seeds with roots all over the ground, 4 to 6 inches from where I planted. I am poking a hole in the row and sticking them back in. Just wondering how this is happening! Any idea?

Re seeds jumping out of the ground

Submitted by Kevin Oxford on October 21, 2019 – 5:10am

Hi Donald. In our part of the world we have a native animal called a Bandicoot or Quenda that digs for its food, and they sometimes uproot my seedlings when hunting their food. Maybe you have a little furry thing where you are that behaves in a similar way. I put a temporary fence around my seedlings to keep them out. I’m about to plant my first crop of peanuts but unfortunately Bandicoots love eating peanuts and they have an amazing sense of smell, so I’ll have to build a more permanent fence around the peanut patch before I sow the seeds.

GROWING PEANUTS

Submitted by MARIA VRCHOTA on May 28, 2019 – 9:59am

Hi! I want to grow peanuts so the wildlife in my area can feed themselves. We get squirrels, raccoons, & opossums visiting around here & I like to think I give a helping hand at feeding Mother Nature”s friends. Bless & Enjoy!

boiled peanuts

Submitted by Bruce on April 28, 2019 – 12:35pm

Boiled peanuts are also delicious. If you intend to boil peanuts, they should not be dried. They can be boiled in the shell as soon as they are dug and washed or they can be frozen and boiled later. Boil for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, remove from heat, add salt and allow the peanuts to sink – this is when they absorb the salted water. If being frozen, blanch for 4 or 5 minutes for better results.

Peanut planting

Submitted by Timothy on April 4, 2019 – 9:50am

Which moon phase should I use to plant peanuts? I looked in The Old Farmers Almanac but didn’t see a listing for peanuts. Should I use the bean/pea listing or the potato listing?

Planting Peanuts by the Moon

Submitted by The Editors on April 8, 2019 – 4:53pm

Peanuts are an interesting case. Although they develop below ground, they are not a root or tuber, so we would suggest following the planting dates for above ground crops, such as peas and beans.

Correction

Submitted by Crystal on January 10, 2019 – 6:32pm

Please correct this article. I couldn’t believe it when I saw it was farmer’s almanac. the writing is not precise and leads the reader to believe they should plant the outer shell/pod. I don’t believe this is the case.

Planting Peanuts

Submitted by The Editors on March 5, 2019 – 3:28pm

We have edited the instructions to clarify that we recommend planting peanuts without the shells. However, some folks do plant peanuts with the shells intact; the peanuts will simply take a little longer to sprout.

growing peanuts

Submitted by Bruce Hewett on April 28, 2019 – 12:24pm

I’m in Georgia now but grew peanuts in Kentucky for 20 years. Peanuts will grow from the shell, I failed to dig a couple of rows last year and now they are popping up all over the garden area. I always shell before I plant because they germinate faster but you must leave the skin on the seed. I mulched mine one year and they did not make peanuts because the peduncle went into the mulch but not the soil. They must go into soil to make a peanut. One item missing from this article is the requirement for gypsum. If there is not enough gypsum or calcium there will be many empty pods. Powdered gypsum is best and should be dusted all over the plant when flowers appear. Gypsum granules can also be used but when that was all that was available I would work that into the soil before planting. In Kentucky, I often started the plants in peat pots due to the shorter growing season.

Growing Peanuts

Submitted by Barbara on December 12, 2018 – 4:06pm

Hi, I bought peanut for planting from Jimmy Carters Library. My granddaughter asked me to pick some up for her husband. So I decided to get for me also. I live in New Jersey and planted them in pots in my kitchen. I only thought one started, but i put the smaller one in a pot also. I am so excited watching them grow. The larger on has so many flowers, the smaller one is doing pretty good also. After reading about growing peanut and peoples questions, I’m not sure if I’m doing ok. They are in a foot of soil and I am wondering if I should get bigger pots. The pots are afoot and a half tall but about a foot wide. I truly would like them to grow ok. Can you help me and am I doing wrong by them. I’ve been so proud of how good they are growing.

Peanuts

Submitted by Tommy on September 16, 2018 – 6:16am

What does peanuts take out or put in the ground I have a 4 acre field and I was wondering if they took or gave nitrogen to the soil

Nitrogen

Submitted by Jenn on November 9, 2018 – 8:36pm

Vegetables in the legume family, which includes peas and peanuts and clover, are nitrogen fixers. This means they are able to take nitrogen from the air and store it in their root nodules with help from microbes. Any root nodules left in the soil after the plant dies or is pulled out will provide nitrogen for other plants. A quick search for “nitrogen fixation” will better explain this.

Peanuts and Nitrogen

Submitted by Robert on March 5, 2019 – 3:04am

Peanuts are a legume and like other legumes are nitrogen fixing. Yes they will add nitrogen to the soil.

Peanut growing.

Submitted by Bev on September 8, 2018 – 10:42pm

We were growing peanuts for many weeks in a raised bed when rats dug up the whole garden. It turns our rats love peanut butter! We live in Western Australia. So disappointing.

Peanut planting

Submitted by Karen on April 26, 2018 – 10:35am

We live in zone 5 and our plants came about from some industrious squirrels and bluejays. They buried their bounty of raw in-shell peanuts in the soil all over my yard. Their best crops came from plants that shared my tomato planters but even the sunny in-ground gardens did well. We learned allot about the plant and the critters enjoyed their harvest. Thanks for the email day brighteners and good advise!

Peanut planting

Submitted by Nwamaradi Patricia on April 19, 2018 – 7:05am

Can i harvest my groundnut manually or is there any machine for harvesting it?

harvesting peanuts

Submitted by The Editors on April 19, 2018 – 4:18pm

In a home garden, you can dig up the plants by first loosening the nearby soil with a spading fork (careful not to damage the harvest–stay along the outskirts of the plant). Then you can gently pull or dig the plants up by hand or with a shovel. Commercial farmers have machinery that helps them to harvest fields quickly.

Peanuts

Submitted by Jerry Mundy on April 18, 2018 – 4:25pm

If I plant peanuts in a raised flowerbed, how deep does the soil have to be? How far down will they grow?

peanuts in raised beds

Submitted by The Editors on April 19, 2018 – 4:06pm

For growing peanuts in raised beds or containers, you’ll need a soil depth of at least a foot. The peanuts may start developing around 1 to 4 inches below the surface, but the roots of the mother plant will need more depth. Also allow for hilling, to encourage peanut development.

Planting

Submitted by JKHamlin on April 18, 2018 – 8:24am

The above information is incorrect. They will never grow if you shell them first.

Peanuts will grow if shelled

Submitted by olinda on April 18, 2018 – 9:16am

My dad planted peanuts and yes he planted individual seeds. Not sure where the person who said they won’t grow if shelled got their information from, but it’s incorrect.

sowing peanuts

Submitted by The Editors on April 18, 2018 – 2:27pm

Certainly in nature, the peanuts are not shelled, and the seeds in the pod germinate eventually. However, if they are shelled (but with the seed coat left on), then germination often will be faster. Several seed companies recommend shelling before sowing, but many gardeners have had success without shelling, too.

Peanuts WILL grow if shelled

Submitted by Alex on April 29, 2018 – 12:41pm

You are incorrect. Not only will they grow if shelled, but you can also grow SHELLED, store bought raw peanuts. I have 15 plants growing right now that I started from a bag of shelled, raw, store bought peanuts.

They will never grow if you shell them first?

Submitted by Brenda Eiland on August 25, 2019 – 5:03pm

My family of origin grew peanuts, and never planted them in the shell. An important thing to remember, though, was to never remove the outer covering of the nut itself. In our case, that covering was dark reddish brown. It was my understanding then, that the peanut plant will not grow if that covering is not kept on the seed nuts.

Peanuts grown in Nebraska

Submitted by Kathy S. Mackey on February 20, 2017 – 7:20pm

Do peanuts take over a garden spot? Will they run, and continue to spread year after year. Are they perennial or do they die out die to our extreme cold winters?? Thank you.

Grow nutritious peanuts at home! Learn how to plant and grow for these snackable legumes.