What Kind Of Potato To Plant? (10+ Best Potatoes To Grow)


If you are starting a new garden or planting potatoes for the first time, you know that there is a huge variety of potatoes to choose from.  The best choice depends on where they will be growing (sunny or shady spot, clay or sandy soil, container or ground).

So, what kind of potatoes are the best to grow?  Early season potatoes (like Red Norland) are the best to grow if you want to harvest sooner.  Fingerling potatoes (like Pinto Gold or Russian Banana) are best to grow in containers with limited space.  Large potatoes (like Yukon Gold) are best if you want to harvest big tubers.

Of course, you have lots of choices when it comes to which potatoes to grow.

In this article, we’ll talk about what kind of potatoes to plant in various circumstances (for example, when growing in containers). There are over 10 varieties listed here, so I think you will find something that is perfect for your garden.

Let’s get started.

What Kind Of Potato To Plant? (Best Potatoes To Grow)

The best kind of potato to plant will depend on several factors, including:

  • Disease Resistance (late blight can be a big problem for potatoes, and it can spread to tomatoes)
  • Geography
  • Location (container or ground)
  • Skin Thickness
  • Sunlight
  • Time To Maturity
  • Type Of Soil (sandy, loamy, clay)

The time to maturity may be a very important factor if your growing season is short. Remember that the time to maturity for a potato plant is the number of days after planting that it will take to grow and produce tubers.

baby potato plant
Some potato varieties (early) will mature much faster than others (late).

According to Fedco Seeds, potatoes can be classified into 3 different groups, depending on the time to maturity:

You can learn more about these types of potatoes (and when to plant them) in my article here.

In general, you can plant potatoes 4 weeks before the last frost date. You can find the last frost date for your area with this tool from the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Another surprising factor to consider when choosing which potatoes to grow is skin thickness. According to the University of Georgia, potatoes with thicker skins do not grow well in the Southern U.S.

russet potatoes
Russet potatoes have thick skins, and so they will not grow as well in the Southern U.S.

The University of Florida echoes this sentiment: russet potatoes do not grow well in Florida, due to the long growing season (up to 4 months!).

Now let’s take a closer look at what type of potatoes to grow, depending on how you are planting them.  We’ll start with growing potatoes in containers.

Best Potatoes To Grow In Containers

Some of the best potatoes to grow in containers are smaller varieties, called fingerling potatoes.  They are perfect for container growing, since the tubers won’t take up as much space.

fingerling potatoes
Fingerling potatoes are smaller varieties that take up less space than other types of potato plants.

(There are also lots of ways to prepare them, such as this recipe for roasted garlic parmesan fingerling potatoes from AllRecipes).

Here are a few varieties of fingerling potatoes that you can try growing:

You might need a larger container (with a length and width of at least 2 to 3 feet) if you want grow more than a few potato plants.

Remember that you can also harvest “new’ potatoes from any potato plant before the tubers reach full size.  These new potatoes are smaller, and they have thinner skin that rubs off more easily.

New potatoes are perfect for baking, roasting, or for adding whole to soup or stew!  Growing fingerling potatoes in containers is a good option if you have limited space in your garden (or if you want to grow indoors).

(You can learn more about how to grow with limited space in my article here).

If you want to grow potatoes in containers, avoid the varieties with large tubers. According to the University of Illinois Extension, larger potato varieties (such as Yukon Gold) will get too big for most containers. 

Containers For Growing Potatoes

You can use 5-gallon buckets, large pots, or grow bags as containers for growing potatoes.

5 gallon bucket
A 5-gallon bucket is one good option for growing a single potato plant in a limited space.

Keep in mind that a 5-gallon bucket might not be deep enough for larger potato varieties. In addition, you might need to drill some drainage holes in the bottom of the bucket to keep the soil from staying too wet.

Grow bags will drain out more easily than buckets or pots.  You can bring a grow bag indoors if you have a saucer to put underneath (to catch any water that drains out).

You can even find biodegradable fabric grow bags, such as this 10-gallon grow bag from Amazing Garden.  The best part about this particular grow bag is that it also has an opening on the side.

This opening allows you to easily check on the progress of your tubers during the growing season. Of course, you can install your own hatch that opens on hinges if using another type of container to grow your potatoes.

How Deep Should A Container Be For Potatoes?

I would suggest a height of at least 16 inches for a container if you want to grow potatoes.  (You can learn more about the depth and spacing for potato plants in my article here.)

potatoes soil
Potato tubers and roots will take up some space underground, so a container should have a height of at least 16 inches to accomodate them.

A height of at least 16 inches leaves enough space for the potato tubers and roots to grow in the soil. It also leaves some space at the top of the container for hilling later in the season.

“Hilling” means adding soil at the base of the potato plant as it grows taller during the season. This is done to protect the tubers from sunlight.

(When exposed to sunlight, potatoes will turn green and may develop a toxic substance called solanine).

You can learn more about how to hill potatoes (and why to do it) in my article here.

rows of potatoes
Hilling potatoes keeps the tubers from turning green in sunlight.

How Many Potatoes Can I Plant In A Container?

You can probably only fit one large potato plant in a single 5-gallon bucket, since space is limited (a 5-gallon bucket is only about 1 foot across). Usually, it is best to leave about 12 inches between potato plants.

If you grow smaller fingerling potato varieties in a 5-gallon bucket, you might consider planting up to 4 seed potatoes (one in each “quadrant” or quarter of the bucket).

small potatoes new potatoes
You will get more tubers if you grow fingerling potatoes (but they will be smaller!) You can also harvest new potatoes before maturity, like these red ones.

For a larger container, keep the potato plants a foot apart. This means each potato plant needs about 1 square foot of space around it.

For example, if you have a container that has an area of 4 square feet, then you can plant up to 4 potato plants in it.

Best Potatoes To Grow In Clay Soil

Unfortunately, potatoes do not grow so well in clay soil.  Luckily, there are some ways to improve clay soil for potatoes.

clay soil
Clay soil is thick and drains poorly. It is not the best choice for growing potatoes.

One of the best ways to make clay soil better for potatoes is to add some compost or aged manure. Not only will this improve soil texture, it will add nutrients.

Compost or aged manure will also add organic matter to your soil. This organic matter attracts organisms (such as earthworms or bacteria) that will help to further improve your soil.

Compost
Add compost to clay soil to loosen it up and improve the texture for growing potatoes and other vegetables.

If the soil in your garden is very heavy clay, it might be worth giving container gardening a try instead.  You could also try growing potatoes in straw bales as another alternative.

Best Potatoes To Grow In Sandy Soil

Most potatoes will grow well in sandy soil, since it is loose and drains well.  This keeps the soil aerated and allows the potato tubers to grow without rotting (as they would in wet soil).

Of course, if your soil is too sandy, it might drain too fast, which could mean trouble keeping your plants watered.  If you are having trouble with dry soil, check out my article on how to treat it.

Best Potatoes To Grow In Shade

Potatoes do not grow well in shade.  They grow best in full sun, which means 8 or more hours of sunlight per day.

large and small potatoes
The small potatoes (in the yellow bowl) were grown in shade, and the large potatoes (in the metal bowl) were grown in sun.

Without enough sunlight, potato plants will be stunted.  Even if the plants grow tall, the tubers will not get large enough to make growing them worthwhile. I had this experience with potatoes planted in shade this past year – you can read about it (and learn what to avoid) in my article here.

You can learn more about where to plant potatoes in my article here.

Best Early Potatoes To Grow

If you want some fast-maturing varieties, here are a few early potatoes that will produce tubers in short order:

Yukon Gold Potatoes
Yukon Gold is an early mid-season potato that comes from large plants.

Best Mid-Season Potatoes To Grow

These mid-season potatoes take a little longer to mature, but they are worth the wait:

Kennebec potatoes
Kennebec is a mid-season potato variety with high yield.

Best Late Potatoes to Grow

These late season potatoes take the longest time to mature:

Best Red Potatoes to Grow

If you want red potatoes with a rounder shape and thinner skin than russets, here are some varieties for you to try:

red potatoes
Red potatoes have a rounder shape and thinner skins than russet potatoes.

Conclusion

Now you know what kind of potato to plant depending on the time to maturity and how you are planting.

You can learn how to plant sprouted potatoes in my article here.

You might also want to check out my article on how to dig (harvest) potatoes.

I hope you found this article helpful.  If so, please share it with someone who can use the information.

If you want to read some of my most popular posts, check out the “Best of GreenUpSide” page here.  Enjoy!

~Jonathon

jonathon.david.madore

Hi, I'm Jon. Let's solve your gardening problems, spend more time growing, and get the best harvest every year!

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