How to Grow Your Own Peanuts

Peanut Planting and Growing Tips

By George and Becky Lohmiller
April 30, 2020
Peanuts are a legume plant

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.)

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.


Reader Comments

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Spontaneous peanut plants

There is a jay bird who frequents my yard and plants peanuts. It will use rocks to break open the shell, and then bury the open shell-and-nut to grow in window box planters, in the parking strip, under the spruce tree; all over the place. Presumably it’s trying to grow more peanuts.

Peanut plants

I live in the England, in the south. Yesterday I found 3 peanut seedling growing in a potted plant in my garden. I assume this was thanks to the squirrels that I get in the garden. At first I thought it was clover growing but when I pulled them out the peanut was at the base.
I have now re potted them separately to grow on and will put them in the garden in about a months time to see if I can produce nuts. Never had this before but we did have record temperatures over the just month of over 24 degrees. A case of watch this space I think!

Growing peanuts

I live in Texas, Zone 10, and I’m interested in growing peanuts as a ground cover. Will planted raw unharvested peanuts work or do I need a certain variety do do that?

Boiled Peanuts

Another way to enjoy peanuts is to boil them. Boiled peanuts are common in the South and are often sold by vendors at events like fairs, automobile races, etc. To prepare, you just boil in very salty water until the nuts are soft. They are best eaten while still warm.


Back in the 60's my Dad used to buy raw peanuts just for snacking on, not for planting. One day I took a few pods and planted them in a pot on my bedroom window sill. I had never seen a peanut plant before (waaay before the internet) and was pleasantly surprised when they started to grow. I had no idea what to expect. I was rewarded with very attractive plants with pretty flowers which surprised me even more after they faded and started to send shoots down into the soil. What a lovely botany experiment for children. If you can get your hands on some raw peanuts it's a wonderful at home science experiment that you can enjoy with your children.

Zone 3 Wyoming.

Is it possible to grow peanuts in northern WY? I'm from GA and miss boiled peanuts. I can start them indoors until late May but summer nights in this area are still chilly, jacket weather.

Peanut soil question

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

The Editors's picture

Add sand and aged compost to soil to loosen it.

Growing time

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

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?

Re seeds jumping out of the ground

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.


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

The Editors's picture

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. 


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

The Editors's picture

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.


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


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

The Editors's picture

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.


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

The Editors's picture

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.