How to Grow Your Own Peanuts

Peanut Growing and Planting Tips

By George and Becky Lohmiller
March 28, 2018
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 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.

Peanuts

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.

Planting Peanuts

  • 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 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.)

Peanut plants

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

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Pea nut

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

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

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?

GROWING PEANUTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peanut growing.

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

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

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

harvesting peanuts

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

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

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

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

Peanuts will grow if shelled

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

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

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?

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

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?

The Editors's picture

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 weeks.do 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

The Editors's picture

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.

HOW TO GROW PEANUT ON VERTICAL LAYERS OF SOIL

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

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