Which Potato Should I Grow?

Choose by Maturity, Name, Cooking type, Family or Colour. We have customer reviews to help and if you still can’t decide, have a look at our A-Z chart

One of the most frequent questions we are asked is “Which potato should I grow?” With such a choice, it may initially appear to be hard to narrow it down. However with a few key questions, we can certainly recommend a few for you.

There are as many ways to chose a potato as there are potatoes and if you prefer making an informed decision rather than picking a name you like, we can help you understand some terminology.

We have organic, speciality, heritage and blight-resistant varieties. The Sarpo Family are here as are Phureja and Mayan seed potatoes. Potato House is renowned for the range of coloured varieties – blue flesh, red skin – there’re all here. Firm favourites such as Colleen, Setanta and Charlotte feature in our shop alongside rare varieties such as Salad Blue and Shetland Black and all are certified seed grown by us in Scotland. There is a FAQ page for all your potato questions. You can browse our range by clicking on a category or use the search facility if you know the variety you are looking for. If you can’t find a specific variety or have any questions, please get in touch.

Why don’t you browse our shop and create wishlists for the varieties you would like to try in 2021. Make several so you can compare the earlies or main crops as well as the reds and blues that are of interest. You will find 70 varieties to cater for the needs of the discerning gardener and allotmenteer!

If you ordered from us before and can remember what you ordered, please leave a product review. During summers we reflect on the season gone by, make plans to improve our varieties on offer for our customers and prepare for the new season. We have a licence to grow from many different potato companies, as well as exclusive rights to many varieties and so our range is the best in the UK. Additionally, we are continually seeking out new varieties to grow – perhaps new to us but they could be 50 years old!


Which Potato Should I Grow? Choose your potatoes by Maturity

Which Potato Should I Grow

The most common way of choosing a potato is by crop type – the maturity. But what does early or main crop mean? Quite simply it is the length of time taken for the plant to mature and give a good harvest. If you planted a tuber of each cropping type on the same day, the earlies would be ready first. Early potatoes are what we think of when new potatoes are mentioned – harvest cooked and eaten within a few hours for that magical new potato taste. New potatoes are often quite expensive in shops and so many gardeners like to grow these. They take 10-12 weeks to mature and are usually harvested before blight sets in. These potatoes do not store for too long. Can be planted up until the end of June for harvesting till the end of October.

Second Earlies take slightly longer at around 14-16 weeks to mature, Early Main Crop and Main Crop (sometimes lumped together) take around 15 – 22 week respectively to mature and these varieties are the ones that will store for much longer. Main crops can be planted till around end of May for harvesting till the end of October. There is so much variation in the weather throughout the UK it is hard to give definitive dates as to when to plant.

You need to be aware of the last (average) frost dates where you are as the young plant is susceptible to frost. The traditional date for planting was Easter Sunday but I suspect this is due to the first bank holiday of the year and people wanting to get out and about. You most certainly are not too late if you have only thought about growing your own potatoes in April and even into June – earlies would be harvested in August if planted in May.

There is obviously some overlap in these broad definitions and other factors such as chitting, soil, weather, location in the garden as well as personal preference to be taken into account. Most people will either stagger planting or plant different crop types to ensure a long supply of homegrown potatoes.

Recently a 5th crop type has been talked about – the Late Season for Christmas Market. These potatoes can be any crop type and are grown accordingly. We have an information page about growing late season potatoes and these are only available from late May.


Names of potatoes can bring back memories or start a tradition!

Some people are delighted to find a potato that their grandparents used to grow, like Edzell Blue, others like the sound of Bambino and others pick a potato because their 8-year-old daughter is called Emily and is determined to grow a Red Emmalie. There are many exotic sounding potato names – perhaps they remind you of a holiday. There is absolutely nothing wrong with picking your potatoes by their name….or indeed picking your children’s names from your favourite potato!


Which Potato Should I Grow? – Choosing by Cooking Type

Have you ever tried to mash a potato that simply wouldn’t, or have your boiled potatoes disintegrated? Your culinary disasters may simply be due to using the wrong potato type. You might have seen a recipe asking for a floury variety or a TV chef using a waxy type. Many people phone us to ask if we can supply a baking potato or which potato is the best for roasting. It is so true that many potatoes have one or two distinct purposes while others can be seen more as all-rounders.

The three types are Floury, Waxy and smooth. As a general rule, most potatoes tend to fall into one of two categories; floury or waxy. Waxy potatoes hold their shape and have a firm bite, so they’re great for salads or simply boiled and dressed with butter. Floury potatoes, on the other hand, fluff up when they’re cooked, making them perfect for chips, roast potatoes or baking. But there are varieties that fall in the centre, holding both waxy and firm qualities and these are defined as smooth. These make great all-rounders, and tend to have the creamy consistency needed for a smooth mash.

Floury potatoes
Smooth Potatoes
waxy potatoes

Chosing by Potato Colour

We are renowned for having an array of coloured seed potatoes! The purples, the pinks and the blues! There are also potatoes where the flesh is coloured. This is always a talking point – whether it is toddlers or friends round for a meal – everyone is impressed. The toddlers get told that the blue mash has super powers and the adults will check if blue potatoes have super powers! Nutritional values are the same although there are some studies which indicate that a range of food colours is better for you. We do, of course, have white skin and flesh seed potatoes.

Blue and Purple Skin
Seed Potatoes
Red and Pink Skin
Seed Potatoes
White and Yellow Skin
Seed Potatoes
Parti coloured Skin
Seed Potatoes



Choosing by our different “families”

We have many different “families” of potatoes and some varieties will fall into a few of the families. Here is a brief background on each.

Skea Organics is our original company and are renowned for supplying high-quality organic seed potatoes to farmers and market gardeners throughout the UK and beyond. We are delighted to be able to bring the same range of organic seed potatoes to gardeners and allotment holders. Our Organic range is about a only third according to the variety list, however, by area grown and crop yield it is over 90% of our harvest.

Our range of speciality and heritage varieties is quite incredible; we are helping to bring some varieties back from extinction such as Lumpers and Ratte. Each year we try to extend the range as many people want to experiment with these older varieties and they are seeing something of a resurgence in the press and in restaurants. Only small areas of many of these older varieties are grown and they do sell out quite quickly. The definition of a heritage variety is one that was bred prior to 1950. They have been around for a while and the reason is generally the taste – the yield may not be as good as modern varieties and may be prone to diseases, but are certainly worth a try.

The RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM) helps gardeners choose the best plants for their garden and we are delighted so many of the varieties we grow for you have this prestigious award.

With more than 75,000 plants available in RHS Plant Finder alone, how can you tell which plants are best for all-round garden value? The AGM is intended to help gardeners make that choice, and is only awarded to plants that are:

  • excellent for ordinary use in appropriate conditions
  • available
  • of good constitution
  • essentially stable in form and colour
  • reasonably resistant to pests and diseases


The Ark of Taste is a key international project of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity. It aims to catalogue and promote quality products from around the world that are rooted in culture, history and tradition and that are in danger of disappearing. It is quite exciting to see so many of our varieties listed in this catalogue and we aim to have more soon.

Potato House are varieties exclusively grown by us for the UK market. We have quite a range here, including Mary’s Rose – which is the first variety to come through our breeding programme and be listed in the national database.

sarpo sack

For many years Sarpo potato varieties have had a fervent following with gardeners and allotment holders.  The reasons for that are simple. Allotment holders frequently grow their vegetables in an organic way and so are always looking for varieties that do not need spraying.

The Sárvári family from the Lake Balaton region in Hungary started breeding potatoes for high resistance to late-blight disease over 40 years ago.  The late Dr Sárvári was director of Keszthely Research Institute (now University of Pannonia Georgikon, Faculty of Agriculture, Potato Research Centre).  His Soviet bosses wanted a hardy strain of potatoes for growing across the USSR which would survive the ravages of climate and disease and that were not dependent on expensive chemical inputs. The first variety to be Nationally Listed in 2002 was Sarpo Mira, a clone with outstanding resistance. This was followed shortly after by Axona, another maincrop clone with good flavour. In 2013 Sarpo Potatoes Ltd was formed as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Sarvari Trust. We are the exclusive grower and supplier to the UK market of Sarpo Seed Potatoes.

The Mayan, or Phureja Family, with exotic names such as Mayan Gold and Mayan Rose, are varieties originating from the Andean valleys in South America. By hybridization with Solanum tuberosum by the Scottish Crop Research Institute, varieties were obtained which are adapted to the European climate. The varieties can be planted in areas with a mild climate, where culture throughout the year is possible. These crossings are particularly popular as a culinary potato for their excellent taste and less cooking time.

Heritage Seed Potatoes
Sarpo Seed Potatoes
RHS Award of Garden Merit Seed Potatoes
Organic Seed Potatoes
Ark of Taste Seed Potatoes

Which Potato Should I grow? All our categories

Have a browse through all our categories and different families. We can help shorten down a list if the choice is still overwhelming!


Recommendations

Our website was revamped over summer 2020 and since then many of our customers have left reviews for the potatoes they have bought recently.

It is always good to get personal recommendations – whether that is from your neighbour who obviously has similar weather and soil issues or from someone who recently started growing their own potatoes, or an “old-timer” (who may be half your age!) who knows about diseases as well as the rare varieties to watch out for. Our news page has articles by different journalist and bloggers giving their thoughts on our potato varieties.

The following advice is also great:

“It is always so hard to recommend just one variety – I would advise getting at least one early and one main crop so you have homegrown potatoes for a while.”

HAzel Fraser – Customer via EMail




If after all that, you still can’t decide, here is an A-Z of all our varieties

Seed PotatoShort descriptionCategoriesStock statusProduct link
Red Seed potaotes
AlouetteAlouette is a versatile red skinned table variety producing oval long tubers with shallow eyes and yellow flesh colour.  It has excellent resistance to both foliage and tuber blight.






Out of stock
Ambo Seed Potato
AmboAmbo is a very attractive early maturing versatile parti-coloured variety with good foliage and tuber late blight resistance. High yielding in a wide range of soil types and presents good drought resi...






Out of stock
Anya Seed PotatoAnyaThe Anya potato tastes great but not so good on the looks front!  High yielding.  The taste is slightly unusual being nutty, almost like a chestnut.  They hold their shape well when boiled.




Out of stock
Arran Pilot Seed Potato
Arran PilotFor amateur gardeners looking for a tasty first early variety it has been a top choice for many years. Taste delicious when harvested and served immediately.





Out of stock
Arran Victory Seed Potatoo
Arran Victory[caption id="attachment_14895" align="alignnone" width="115"]...







Out of stock
Arran Victory Seed Potatoo
Arran Victory Eating Potatoes[caption id="attachment_14895" align="alignnone" width="115"]...







Out of stock
Aura Seed Potato
AuraFrench variety dating back to 1950s. Long shaped, yellow skin, yellow flesh tubers with perfect cooking characteristics. Ideal for roasting, boiling and steaming. It has high resistance to common scab.







Out of stock
Bambino Seed Potatoes
BambinoShort oval tuber with white skin and cream flesh, great salad variety. Lovely salad potatoes with a smooth light waxy texture. Great organic variety due to high blight, scab and blackleg resistance.





Out of stock
Belle De Fontenay Seed Potatoes
Belle de FontenayBelle de Fontenay is an old French salad variety from around 1885 producing long, yellow-skinned tubers with light yellow flesh.  It's a very firm and waxy potato with a great taste, ideal for steamin...






Out of stock
Blue Annelise seed potatoBlue AnneliseBlue Anneliese is the newest addition to our Speciality range. It produces long shaped, blue skin and blue flesh tubers.  Slightly creamy flavour with a nutty aroma.






Out of stock
Blue Congo Seed Potato
Blue CongoBlue Congo produces long to oval shaped tubers with blue skin and blue flesh.






Out of stock
British Queen Seed Potato, Queens Seed Potato
British Queen[caption id="attachment_14789" align="alignleft" width="75"]






Out of stock
Cara Seed Potatoes
CaraGardeners love Cara for its high levels of resistance to drought, blight, common scab and viruses. One of the best hardy growers, the tubers are white and round with shallow pink eyes. In the kitchen ...





Out of stock
White Seed Potatoes, Carolus Seed Potato
Carolus[caption id="attachment_14789" align="alignleft" width="75"]







Out of stock
Casablanca Seed Potato
Casablanca[caption id="attachment_14789" align="alignleft" width="75"]







Out of stock
Catriona Seed Potatoes
CatrionaCatriona produces a moderate yield of long oval, parti-coloured blue tubers with a light yellow flesh.  It has excellent flavour and cooking qualities.   Bred by Scottish breeder Archibald Findlay in ...





Out of stock
Charlotte Seed Potatoes
Charlotte[caption id="attachment_14789" align="alignleft" width="75"]







Out of stock
Charlotte Seed Potatoes
Charlotte Eating PotatoesCharlotte is best known for its culinary excellence, of course it is French. Charlotte potatoes have a fresh flavour and taste great either hot or cold. They are ideal boiled as part of a salad as the...






Out of stock
Colleen Seed Potatoes
ColleenA good all rounder – good in the kitchen and good in the ground. High disease and pest resistance give this white tuber a high yield and good appeal to all growers looking for a bountiful harvest.   C...






Out of stock
Desiree Seed Potatoes
Desiree[caption id="attachment_14789" align="alignleft" width="75"]





Out of stock
Duke of York Seed Potatoes
Duke of YorkA popular heritage variety, highly regarded since its establishment in 1891.   Duke Of York is low growing so ideal for a windy garden.  Perfect for new potatoes b...





Out of stock
Dunbar StandardReasonable yields of firm fleshed tubers that have a nice strong full flavoured taste. Good general cooking qualities. Tubers have a lovely earthy flavour, a particularly good baker. A late maincro...




Out of stock
Early Rose Seed Potato