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Peanut Seed Starting Tips

Peanut plant 1
Peanut sprout seed starting
Peanut sprout

Peanuts are a warm-weather crop. They require a long frost-free growing season to mature. If you can grow melons in your garden, you can likely grow peanuts.

Start peanuts in the garden after all danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed to 70°F (21°C) or greater. Peanuts can be started indoors but they generally do not like to be transplanted.

Start peanut plants from nuts that have been shelled or from those still encased in the shell. Leave the skin of shelled nuts intact.

Peanuts mature in 110 to 120 days after starting sowing.

Peanut Sowing and Planting Tips

  • Grow peanuts from shelled whole nuts with the papery skin still intact or from peanuts still encased in the shell. Shelled peanuts germinate more readily than those still encased in the shell. Split or half nuts will not sprout.
  • Peanuts do not transplant well so it’s best to start them in the garden after the soil temperature is 70°F (21°C) or greater, about 2 to 3 weeks or later after the last frost in spring.
  • Time the sowing of peanuts started indoors so that seedlings go into the garden 2 to 3 weeks after the last frost in spring; that means sowing seed indoors 6 to 4 weeks before the last frost in spring.
  • Sow each peanut 1 to 1½ inches deep (2.5-3 cm) deep; space seeds 3 inches (7 cm) apart.
  • Alternatively, sow seeds 2 inches (10 cm) in a furrow about 2 inches (5 cm) deep.
  • After seedlings emerge and begin to grow, draw loose soil up around the base of the plants.
  • Thin seedlings to 12 inches (30 cm) apart.
  • Grow peanuts in loose, sandy loams with plenty of aged compost added in advance of planting.
  • You can pre-warm the garden planting bed with a mulch of black plastic—but remove the plastic when plants start to flower.
  • Peanuts grow best where the soil temperature is between 70° and 85°F (21-19°C).
  • Peanuts prefer a soil pH range of 6.0 to 7.0.
  • Grow peanuts in full sun.
  • Keep the soil moist until “pegs” enter the soil; a peanut peg is the flower stem and peanut embryo. About a month after seedlings emerge from the soil, flowers will develop near the bottom of the plant; when the flower petals fall off, the stem and the seed left behind by the flower (a peanut embryo) will bend downward and grow into loose soil—these “pegs” become peanuts.
  • Once pegs have entered the soil, mulch around plants with a layer of straw.
  • To help pegs enter the soil you can mound up loose soil on either side of rows, as you would “hill” potatoes. In a sense, by mounding you are helping the pegs and soil to meet halfway.

More tips at How to Grow Peanuts.

Crop rotation: Grow peanuts where root crops such as carrots or turnips have recently grown; do not plant where peas have recently grown.

Container growing: Use a container 30 inches (76 cm) deep and 20 inches (51 cm) across.

Peanut plant seed starting growing
Peanuts do not transplant well so it’s best to start them in the garden after the soil temperature is 70°F.

Peanut Planting Calendar

  • 6-4 weeks before the last frost in spring: sow seed indoors.
  • 2-3 weeks after the last frost in spring: sow seed directly in the garden or transplant out seedlings started indoors; peanuts can be difficult to transplant.

Botanical Name: Arachis hypogaea

Peanuts are a member of the Leguminosae or pea family.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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