Last Updated on March 18, 2023 by Tony Manhart
Here we will tell you the list of determinate and indeterminate potato varieties. Depending on where you live, the potato might seem like the most straightforward fibrous tubers. This delicious starch – since the potato is not a vegetable – has been a staple of European and American cuisine for hundreds of years because of its easy-to-grow nature, durability, and nutritious skin and flesh.
However, gardeners frequently underestimate the potato and don’t realize its simplistic nature hides not only a world of flavors but also one of the differences and complex growth patterns.
Why is it Important to Know The Difference
When growing potatoes, it’s important to determine whether the desired variety is determinate or indeterminate. Potatoes need to be grown from what’s called a ‘seed potato,’ which is part of a potato that contains an ‘eye’ that will grow and become a vine.
When the vine grows, the plant develops thick roots that will become tubers. These tubers are delicious potatoes. However, whether a potato is determinate or indeterminate will affect how much the potato grows. Since it can be difficult to find this information, this list forms an ultimate guide to the different varieties and includes important growing advice for all types.
Determinate vs. Indeterminate
The most complicated part of attempting to grow potatoes is figuring out whether a species is determinate or indeterminate.
Determinate potatoes are more difficult for many amateur gardeners. These fast-growing options produce tubers around soil depth and slightly above where a seed was planted. All of the tubers grow in one layer, so you don’t have to worry about mounding, or adding more soil to the top to get more tubers.
Determinate potatoes produce early, after 70 to 90 days. They can be planted in only 4 in. of soil, making them excellent for gardeners will little space Because they grow fast, these potatoes tend to be a bit smaller than their indeterminate counterparts, but are still healthy, delicious, and nutritious.
Indeterminate varieties are slow-growing and can take between 80 to 120 days to fully stop. However, these varieties suit bag growing because of their high yield. While determinate varieties will only produce tubers around soil depth, indeterminate varieties require mounding because the tuber will continue to produce additional layers of fresh potatoes, resulting in a large harvest at the end of the season.
To best grow indeterminate potatoes, it’s important to understand the bag-growing process. Here, the starting tubers are covered with 4 in. of loose soil and allowed to grow up to 6 in. tall. They are then covered in several inches of soil, straw, or dead leaves so only 2 in. of the plant is exposed at the top of the mound. This process repeats each time the tubers start to emerge on the surface, so more and more layers of potatoes are grown.
If you are unsure about the best way to grow indeterminate potatoes, consider investing in a box, tower, or bag that helps keep track of the tubers. More soil can be added to the container as needed to enjoy the harvest. You will be able to grow up instead of out, resulting in a good yield and healthy potatoes.
The Best Varieties for the Average Gardener
Potatoes are a simple and easy crop to grow, but most gardeners will have better luck trying to take care of determinate varieties until they have the experience and equipment necessary to keep indeterminate ones happy.
Determinate potatoes can be planted in a mere 4 in. of soil, making them an excellent choice for those with small yards. They also have lower yields, so you won’t wind up with a pile of potatoes growing badly in the yard at the end of the season.
List of Determinate Potatoes Varieties
Determinate potatoes seem more straightforward than indeterminate varieties, but there are actually fewer different types of determinates than there are of indeterminates. This is because humans naturally want to produce a greater yield of harvest, especially in modern times where big corporations do much of the production. In particular, indeterminate potatoes are popular for the creation of potato chips because they have such a high yield.
When picking a determinate potato to grow, the most popular types are:
- Russet Norkotah
- Red Norland
- Ratte Potatoes
- Yukon Gold
- Sierra Rose
- Sierra Gold
- Gold Rush
- Adirondack Blue
- Adirondack Red
The flavor and overall starchiness vary, but these potatoes are consistent and as delicious as any other. Some, like the Ratte, are considered more of a delicacy because of their small and finicky nature. Others, like the Yukon Gold, are easy to grow and make amazing mashed potatoes. Remember to do some research about taste and consistency before picking the ultimate tuber.
List of Indeterminate Potatoes Varieties
Indeterminate potatoes are loved by farmers, companies, and serious gardeners because they can grow upwards and produce tons of edible tubers. Because of their popularity, there are numerous varieties available to the average individual. Many have different tastes and textures and grow well in certain climates, so it’s important to research a variety before settling on it. Some of the most common and delicious are:
- Russet Burbank
- Ranger Russet
- Century Russet
- Russet Nugget
- German Butterball
- Strawberry Paw
- Green Mountain
- Canela Russet
- Red Pontiac
- Maris Piper
- German Butterball
- Red Maria
- Red Cloud
Remember that some types will be regional or are better adapted for warm or cool climates. If you can, figure out which indeterminate potatoes are popular in your region, since they will most likely grow the best.
Are Magic Molly Potatoes Determinate or Indeterminate?
Magic Molly potatoes, in my experience, are indeterminate potato varieties and will creep along the ground producing long stems, that if covered produce more potatoes. This is one of my favorite cultivars.
Are Viking Potatoes Determinate or Indeterminate?
There are several different color variants of potatoes that are called Viking Potatoes ranging from the standard one which is white with pink eyes, to actual purple and red ones. I breed potatoes and can confirm the huge genetic variation that happens each time a potato grows from a real seed. I grow Viking potatoes and they appear to have a growth pattern that is somewhere between that of determinate and indeterminate potato varieties.
They as a slow-growing crop, and if your area is prone to diseases and bugs they can appear to be “determinate” because they die back due to pests.
Are Red La Soda Potatoes Indeterminate?
I once bought some of these seed potatoes in Maine, and have been growing them ever since. They are determinate and are excellent yielders.
I have since seeded them, and grown new potatoes that look almost the same as seed, and these are indeterminate. I prefer the indeterminate version. I suspect many people will have this accident happen – when a potato cherry (looks like a tomato) forms, the little seeds can germinate, and you get a potato plant growing – you may think it came from a seed potato tuber you planted, but it is actually an entire new cultivar that came from a seed! Hence I have Red La Soda in my garden that are both growth patterns!
It gets confusing. The original Red La Soda is determinate.
Are Purple Majesty Potatoes Indeterminate?
I have these growing in my garden and, if you keep covering the stems they will take longer to grow and mature, producing a bigger crop. They have a semi-indeterminate growth style.
A Note on Indeterminate vs Determinate Potatoes
There is actually a lot of debate among serious potato folks about whether a potato can be determinate or indeterminate. Potatoes have wacky genetics, and, much like tomatoes, putting them in “word boxes” and saying this strain is determinate and this strain is indeterminate is a bit of a stretch. You may find that one cultivar has a determinate growth pattern in a specific area and climate and an indeterminate growth pattern in another.
My general advice is if you enjoy potatoes, take the time and effort to grow your own genetics from Potato Cherries that form, and have your own unique cultivars. That is what I do, and it makes for a great harvest – purple, red, pink, yellow, purple and white, red and purple, and so on. Eventually, you get very spoiled and shop potatoes are almost inedible by comparison.
Trying to figure out whether a potato is determinate or indeterminate can be frustrating, especially since there isn’t a master list that will let you know what’s what. Luckily for the average gardener, this is the ultimate list of determinate and indeterminate potatoes that explains what each one is most likely to be and which varieties you can choose from. Once you find the right potatoes for you, be prepared to enjoy mashed potatoes, french fries, purees, chips, and other deliciousness.
Tony Manhart is a passionate gardener who has been tending to gardens for over 20 years. He takes pride in creating beautiful outdoor spaces with plants, trees, and shrubs that can thrive in any environment. He loves to share his knowledge with others and has taught classes on gardening basics and advanced techniques. He is committed to sustainability, using natural and organic methods to create and maintain gardens. He also works with local organizations to create green spaces for communities. When he’s not gardening, Tony enjoys hiking, reading, and spending time with his family.