Are Potatoes Determinate or Indeterminate?

I’ve learned some really surprising things about potatoes. There is indeterminate and determinate just like in tomatoes. A shocker until I remembered that tomatoes and potatoes along with eggplant are in the same family. Another lesson on why knowing plant families is important. So are eggplant indeterminate – yes. Great to know except  I’m the only one that eats it. So how do I know if a potato is determinate or indeterminate, look it up by name of course. But there is an easier way. Late potatoes are usually indeterminate and can take up to 130 days to mature. Russet Burbank is an example. Its vine is large and spreading. Mid / Late season potatoes are 90 to 110 days which is where the Russet Burbank sits. Others sites say 85 to 95 for mid. Early potatoes are 60 to 80. The numbers change a bit depending on where you live. Things always take longer here to grow than they state in the catalogue.

Indeterminate are the potatoes you should use in a potato tower which will give you the most potatoes as they grow up the tower and potatoes fill it. In a tower with determinate all the potatoes are at the bottom. Determinate means a determined size of plant and number of potatoes. It is genetic. A tower won’t change that. Your potatoes might be larger because of the loose soil and added care but that is all that a tower will change a determinate potato. So if a potato plant grows more potatoes than another of the same variety, it would behoove you to save seed potatoes from this one. Remember, these small offspring are clones so they will produce the same as the parent plant..


The seed potatoes you buy are just small potatoes or large ones meant to be cut up and planted. The smallest potato used should be no smaller than an large egg. Keep in mind that seed potatoes hold viruses so out of the USA shipping could get pretty complicated if not impossible. They do ship potato seeds though because the viruses are not present in seeds. Are you wondering what the difference between a seed potato and a potato seed is? Not surprised as the internet mixes up the terms and what most people use to plant is seed potatoes., a potato. Most seed potatoes sold are partially sterile or down right sterile, meaning they don’t form true seeds. If you are wondering where the potato seed is look at the picture above. Have any of your potato plants form these green balls where the blossoms once were. Inside are seeds. I can’t find the pictures I have of some, sorry.

The seeds are not clones of the parent plant. They are fertilized by another potato so they are a combination. Therefor they have characteristics of the two parents. I once had my Norkotah potatoes cross with my King Harry. The seeds over wintered and volunteered plants the next spring.  When harvested, underneath the plant were potatoes that looked like Norkotah but most of them looked spitting image of King Harry, just like in a regular family. You simply keep the potatoes you like and breed over and over selecting the best until they breed true. My grandfather did this with a yellow bean that Del Monte used exclusively for years.

They say you have to start your potato seeds inside like you do with a tomato seed. Tomato and potato seeds look  very much alike.

I put in some new kinds of potatoes this year. I do every so often. No one has remained except King Harry, the families all time favorite. I decided to try branching out once more this year. No idea what I have as they were just some potatoes with no name from the grocery store and feed store meant to grow in a garden. One was purple and the other red so I said why not? Do I care if I know the name? Not really as long as they do well. I can then name them myself because after all I’m not selling them.


Most of my potatoes have curled this year. It is probably a wilt viruses that make the leaves turn in on themselves. My King Harry is resistant to the Y one so who knows which one this is.  It has happened before with King Harry still producing some potatoes though small and the new variety I was experimenting with died. The potatoes are of course smaller but still a crop. I’m guessing it is a weather related incidence. My farmer Aunt would advice I pull them out as to not spread the virus, “NO WAY!” I’m looking for the strongest most resilient ones. They will be the ones I save potatoes from to propagate. Yes, some virus’s are harbored within the potatoes so it can pass it on in the future but remember, I’m looking for resiliency not eradicating the virus. You can’t eradicate a virus. You can only grow resistant varieties. How do you do that? By choose ones that naturally show some resistance and then ones that show even better resistance and so on and so forth. I don’t want no pansies that cause me to starve like the great potato famine in Ireland. It is called natural selection or survival of the fittest. If I get virus resistant potatoes so much the better for the future.


In fact I have some that look particularly good right next to ones that are all curled. Tomorrow I’ll mark the ones doing the best so I am sure to have the best seed potatoes for next year. They will probably have the biggest potatoes too but it is a sacrifice I will have to make.  So what is in your garden? Tell us your favorite potato and why?


7 thoughts on “Are Potatoes Determinate or Indeterminate?

  1. The best potatoes I ever grew were those that grew from scraps next to the compost pile. I have no idea what they were, but they sure were happy. I wish they would do so well in the garden.


    1. I love potatoes and am so glad they do well here, King Harry at least. The others are so, so. I tested two new types this year that were sold locally. One at the grocery store and another kind that looked like Norkotah at the Co-op. I’ve grown those before. They did half as well as my King Harry. I have lots more plants to dig up so I may change my mind. I just dug the weakest plants to make way for blackberry starts I received from a friend. Can’t pass those up. I feel for you because I struggled for years to grow good potatoes. Can you grow sweet potatoes?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. ‘Technically’, they ‘can’ be grown here. ‘Practically’, well, that depends on how much work goes into them. I will not bother until I have a better situation. I do intend to grow potatoes too, but will wait for good garden space to do so. I am impressed by how productive the feral potatoes are around the compost piles.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s