What Kind of Potato to Plant? (Best Potatoes to Grow)


If you are just starting your garden or planting potatoes for the first time, you are probably wondering about the best potatoes to grow.  It really depends on where they will be growing (sun or shade, clay or sandy soil, container or ground).

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

Of course, you have many choices when it comes to potatoes.

In this article, we’ll talk about what kind of potatoes to plant in various circumstances (for example, when growing in containers).

Let’s begin.

What Kind of Potato to Plant? (Best Potatoes to Grow)

The best kind of potato to plant will depend on where and how you are planting (geographic location, type of soil, sunlight, containers, etc.) and the time to maturity.

The time to maturity for a potato plant is the number of days it takes to grow and produce tubers.

According to Fedco Seeds, potatoes can be classified in 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.

According to the University of Georgia, potatoes with thicker skins do not grow 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!).

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

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.

A few varieties of fingerling potatoes include:

You might need a larger container (2 to 3 feet wide) if you want grow more than a few potato plants.

Remember that you can also harvest “new’ potatoes before the tubers reach full size.  These new potatoes have thinner skins that rub off more easily.

They are perfect for baking, or you can put them in soup whole!  Growing fingerling potatoes in containers is a good option if you have limited space.

According to the University of Illinois Extension, larger potato varieties (such as Yukon Gold) will get too large for most containers. 

Containers for Growing Potatoes

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

A 5-gallon bucket might not be deep enough for larger potato varieties, and you might need to drill some drainage holes in the bottom to keep the soil from getting 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 find biodegradable fabric grow bags, such as this 10-gallon grow bag from Amazing Garden.  The best part is that it also has an opening on the side.  This allows you to easily check on the progress of your tubers during the growing season.

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.  This leaves enough space for the potato tubers and roots, along with some space for hilling later in the season.

“Hilling” means adding soil at the base of the potato plant.  This is done to protect the tubers from sunlight (in sunlight, potatoes will turn green and may develop a toxic substance called solanine).

You can learn more about the depth and spacing for potato plants in my article here.

How Many Potatoes Can I Plant in a Container?

Usually, it is best to leave about 12 inches between potato plants.  However, space is limited in a container (a 5-gallon bucket is only about 1 foot across).

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.

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

Best Potatoes to Grow in Clay Soil

Potatoes do not grow so well in clay soil.  One way to improve clay soil for planting is to mix in some compost or aged manure.

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.

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 sunlight, 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 may be stunted.  Even if the plants get large, 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 learn more about where to plant potatoes in my article here.

Best Early Potatoes to Grow

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

Best Mid-Season Potatoes to Grow

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

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:

Conclusion

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

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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