Growing Peanuts: Nuts You Will Really Dig

How to Grow Peanuts

George and Becky Lohmiller
Peanuts are a legume plant

Try growing peanuts in your garden! Often thought of as just a snack to be munched on at ball games or passed around at cocktail parties, 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 often are surprised to find out that peanuts are not nuts but instead are actually seeds from a leguminous plant related to peas and beans. (See our plant guides for more about growing peas and beans.)

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

The yellow, pealike 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.

Growing Peanuts

Although considered a southern warm-weather crop, peanuts have been grown as far north as southern Canada.

  • 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.
  • It’s important to select a site that receives full Sun.
  • Plastic row covers are recommended to protect the young plants from spring frosts.
  • To grow peanuts, you will actually start with the the shells of fresh, unroasted peanuts.
  • 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.
  • 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.)
  • 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.

Reader Comments

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Peanuts grown in Nebraska

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.

peanuts: annual or perennial?

Peanuts are both annual and perennial, Kathy; that is, both varieties are available. They—presumably even the perennial varieties, but you should check—will not survive frost and their seeds will not germinate in cold soil.

hi im wondering if i can

hi im wondering if i can cover my peanut plants to protect from frost,since the pods dont seem to be quite matured.i would love to be able to leave them out another month but this is early october and expect we will have light frost in the next couple you think a floating row cover would keep them warm enough or even some blankets thrown over them at night time?what do you suggest?thanx!

Sorry for taking a few days

Sorry for taking a few days to get back to you: Hope it’s not too late, aa month later! You would do well to cover them, and row cover is light and keeps out moisture. A blanket alone might be too heavy, might weigh on the plants, so if you can manage something like an “A” frame, with the blanket over it, and draped to allow no cold air inside, that might be better. If not an “A” frame, think differently: how about large boxes set over the plants? You may not need a blanket in that case. Remember, too, that though you want to keep the plants going, they will naturally begin to retard their growth because the Sun is lower in the sky (and days are shorter!) and the air is cooling. Please let us know how made out, and if this was of value to you.


Hello Peanuts friends,

I posted the message below yesterday but did inadvertently leave some crucial info out.
I aim to get the guys to plant in vertical thus get them 3 raised beds and that way get them to harvest 4 times as much. Sun and water is of no issue. Bit worried about the soil but will get help conditioning the soil when ready. If this is do-able, please advise about how wide and deep the raised bed need to be in order to secure maximum harvest possible. I will gladly provide as much info as possible.
See, i believe i can get the folks there to obtain some kind of sustainable agro project and get them to gain some kind of freedom that way. I believe if i get to show them how to, they in turn will teach the others in villages around. This will hopefully bring changes to their daily lives.
Best regards
John Albert

How to grow peanut on vertical layers of soil

My name is John Albert and i am looking for ways to have people in an African community to grow as much peanut as possible on a small patch of land.
My idea is to have them first plant poles of 2.5m on the ground at 2.5m interval, Have them place some kind of support at very 80 cm between the poles and that way have them planting peanuts in containers 2.5m long, 50cm wide and 30 to 50cm deep. This way, have them harvest 4 times as much peanuts on that patch of land. Watering will not be an issue since they have plentiful of it. If this is possible, Can they in that case plant and harvest at least twice a year if i get people to tech them how to manage the soil?
This will be of tremendous help to the villagers and perhaps ven on a national scale. See, my aim is to help them help themselves in a country were government help is basically inexistant. Do you guys think this is possible? Please contact me a if you want to elaborate more on this subject with me. Please forgive my ignorance, i just feel like someone sometimes need to do something crazy in order to help the many needy.
I thank you all in advance
Best regards
John Albert


I feed birds with peanuts in the garden and some have dropped into the garden and sprouted in August within a few days. Not bad for the East Midlands, so I will try an earlier start next year.

Is it late to plant peanut first week of June?

Is it late to plant peanut first week of June? Which type of weed control can I use for peanuts? Thank you.

May is usually the best time

May is usually the best time to plant peanuts, but it shouldn’t be a problem if you plant them in the next few days. Use herbicides for weed control.

when to plant peanuts

When is the best time to plant peanuts

We answer this question below

We answer this question below. The best time to plant peanuts is generally in early May once the soil is warm and moist. If you don’t live in a place that has these conditions, you’re probably not in the right growing zone!


How Can I Plant Peanut?which Machinary Should I Use?

To grow peanuts, you do not

To grow peanuts, you do not need any special machinery if it’s a small-scale farm or garden. You just need a LOT of sun and nice loose soil as well the peanut seeds which can be planted with their shells. 

If you live in the northern regions, sow a peant seed (shell) about one-inch deep in a big peat pot about one month before the last frost. The soil outside needs to be at least 60 degrees to plant your seedling. In the warmer southern regions, you can just plant straight in the ground about 2 inches deep and 5 inches apart. Once seedlings grow up, thin plants to 10 inches apart.

I Found this peanut

So I found this peanut and it is a very weird stop. I don't know what to do with it and it is a big size peanut above ground. Any help what to do

i am interested to plant

i am interested to plant peanut . i need more information aBOUT IT,,

thank you for accpting me in

thank you for accpting me in this site,,

for how frequent do we need

for how frequent do we need to spray pestcide on pnuts and what type of pestcides should we need to spray at which level of growth

First, avoid pests with

First, avoid pests with healthy soil. Test and amend soil the fall before you plant. Peanuts prefer a pH between 5.8 and 6.2 so that you may need raise the soil pH with lime and many people also need to add calcium for good pod development. Talk to your local county extension about a soil test.
In terms of fertilizer, peanuts do not like direct fertilization as they can burn. Do not apply fertilizer with the seed or after planting. Instead, broadcast fertilizer over the ground and incorporate it into the soil. Speak to your county extension about what's best in your location.
In terms of pests and diseases: First keep the leaves dry when you water at the soil level to avoid leaf spot. You can also apply a fungicide. Insects can be either 1) left eaters or 2) below the soil. You need to identify the insect before assessing control. And speak to your local cooperative extension about pesticides that are legal in your area. We can't make recommendations here.

Where can I find good

Where can I find good seeds??????

Hi, Armando: You will need

Hi, Armando: You will need fresh, unroasted peanuts to start -- check with your local grocer. Read "Growing Peanuts" above for how to proceed. Good luck!

Hey Armando - I bought 1/4lb

Hey Armando - I bought 1/4lb of Tennessee Red, organic off Amazon from Everwilde Farms. Shelled 3, planted 9 seeds, 9 plants sprouted. Two weeks and I'm already hardening them off to transplant this weekend. We have squirrel issues, so I started them inside vs the container outside.

How long will peanuts be good

How long will peanuts be good for using in peanut brittle? I have 3 bags of raw peanuts in large plastic sealed bags of 5 lbs. each. My Dad bought them early this past summer in 2014. He really loves peanut brittle and wanted to make everyone some and keep some for himself. He got sick, not from the peanuts, and recently passed away and now I have these peanuts I don't want to necessarily throw away.

I like to try growing some

I like to try growing some peanuts on our farm/boarding academy. Please email me.

Thank you very much for the

Thank you very much for the comments,questions& answers which I've read in this column and I learn so many things,actually I'm about to start plant peanuts so I just peet ,and at last I now get what I want. Once again thank you all for the tips and advice. you have a nice day,from Fiji,Amos saying, Good bye ,[MOCE]

Good Day, we like to grow

Good Day,

we like to grow Peanut in Germany.
We have 150-180 frost free Days.
Can you give us infos to buy Penautseed

Thanks for your Time

God bless you


I am thinking of planting

I am thinking of planting peanut plants in my garden. I noticed while tilling the soil that the soil is really rocky. Will this effect the growing process of the peanuts?

Peanuts do best in sandy,

Peanuts do best in sandy, loam soil. Rocky or heavy soil can be a problem for the pegs to burrow into. Try to remove as much rocks as possible, and prepare the soil so that it is loose and crumbly. Or, you might consider using raised beds.

More info on 90 day varieties

More info on 90 day varieties and where to get them please. The sooner the better...I am preparing the planting bed today!

I wish to ask if peanuts can

I wish to ask if peanuts can be transplanted?Thanks and good day.

We've never done it, but why

We've never done it, but why not. Transplant your peanut starts into sandy soil about 4 inches apart.

How deep do the peanuts grow

How deep do the peanuts grow into the ground? I know they only start about an inch, but the nuts themselves; how deep of soil do they need? I have some nice little starts growing indoors, but I will need to re pot them soon, as last frost is not for a month or more here in zone 5. Indoors, I can control temp, humidity, and light much better.

Plant seeds 2 to 3 inches

Plant seeds 2 to 3 inches deep in light textured sandy soils and 1½ to 2 inches deep in clay soils. Germination is best when the soil is a warm temperature between 68 and 95 °F.
It's good you've started early; keep in mind that peanuts often need over 100 days to reach maturity. Make sure that you leave enough time.

Yes, I have already planted

Yes, I have already planted them and they are doing great. I was asking how deep all together the soil needs to be. With peanuts; there are tendrils or branches that grow into the ground off of the main stem and the peanuts themselves grow under the dirt on those digging tendrils. I am needing to know how deep THOSE dig into the ground so I know how deep of a container to use. Thanks Much.

How deep the roots grow

How deep the roots grow depends on the variety of peanuts. In light sandy soil they can grow several feet deep. Use wide and 1-2 feet deep pots. Good luck!

Sounds Great. Thanks Much. :)

Sounds Great. Thanks Much.

how much distance we should

how much distance we should give them betweem them

Sow peanut seeds 1 to 1 1/2

Sow peanut seeds 1 to 1 1/2 inches deep and 6 to 8 inches apart. Row spacing for bunch types should be 24 inches and 36 inches for runner types.

What depth do the chutes dig

What depth do the chutes dig in the ground when growing the nuts?

Peanuts have an extensive

Peanuts have an extensive root system. How deep the roots grow depends on the variety of peanuts. In light sandy soil they can grow several feet deep. Peanuts prefer a loose, well-draining, well-tilled soil. Sandy soil mixed with compost works well. If your soil is hard, add some mulch and sand. Or, if your soil does not drain well, you could slightly elevate or mound the rows.

When hanging peanuts indoors

When hanging peanuts indoors to dry, are you suppose to hang them by the greens or by the roots?

To hang the peanuts to dry,

To hang the peanuts to dry, lift the entire plant and hang it in the garage for a week or so. After shaking off excess soil, just hang them by twine. The important thing is that the plants are upside down. Many gardeners first pick the peanuts off the plant and air dry them in a warm, well-ventilated room.

After being harvested, why do

After being harvested, why do peanuts need to be left on the plant to dried?
Will anything adverse happen to the peanuts if they have been picked off from the plant before they have been dried?

I'm not a peanut farmer, but

I'm not a peanut farmer, but grew up on a farm in Alabama. My dad grew a small patch every year just for the family. The reason the nuts should be dried still on the roots is because when harvested they are damp. If you break them off and pile them in a bucket where they touch and can't breath they will rot before they dry.

i picked my peanuts off the

i picked my peanuts off the vine first.. now what do i need to do?

There are 90 day varieties

There are 90 day varieties being grown in Ontario. The American peanut industry, based in Georgia and Texas, don't want you to know this, and these short-season varieties are not available for import into the US. You'll have to smuggle your own.

I am in central Illinois and

I am in central Illinois and am interested in more info on the 90 day varieties. I have friends coming next week from Toronto and may ask them to bring some, if I have info on where to tell them to get them. I am preparing a bed for them now and was planning on planting some raw peanuts I bought at Walmart. Would much prefer to go the 90 day route and not worry so about growing season and seed quality/variety. Thanks!

Can you plant potatoes and

Can you plant potatoes and peanuts together?

If I plant them on the first

If I plant them on the first week of June will the produce

Boiling peanuts need at least

Boiling peanuts need at least 90 to 100 days to reach maturity. Dry peanuts need about 140 days. Plant anytime between April and late June; however, planting after June 1 will not allow enough time for dry peanuts to reach maturity. The ideal time for planting peanuts is the first week of May when the soil is warm and moist. Germination is best between 68 and 95 °F.

Thank you for the tip on

Thank you for the tip on growing peanuts. My plants are doing well. One question I have...after harvest how do I keep seeds for the next planting season?

Thank you

The peanut seed is the peanut

The peanut seed is the peanut itself. Some folks prefer to leave the peanuts in their shells so that they stay protected. Others say peanuts store best by washing them, drying them, shelling them, then storing them in a glass container in the freezer.
Whatever you do, they must stay very dry (down to 4 or 5 percent moisture) and not at room temp or weevils will destroy them. If dry, they can store for many years.