IN THIS GUIDE
Desiree Potatoes are one of the most popular potato varieties for home growers in England and Wales.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at this potato variety, so that you can see why it is so popular, and work out whether it is the right option for you.
We’ll also give you some help to make sure that if you do choose this type of potato, you get the best possible results when growing.
|Official Plant Name||Solanum Tuberous|
|Common Name(s)||Desiree Potato|
|Toxicity||Toxic except for tubers|
|Foliage||Leafy green plants|
|When To Sow||March, April, May, June|
|Flowering Months||June, July, August|
|Harvesting Months||July, August, September, October|
Full Sun / Light Shade
Exposed or Sheltered
0.5 – 1M
0.5 – 1M
June – August
Most Soil Types
Moist but well drained
Neutral / Slightly Acidic
Desiree is a varietal of red-skinned potato (Solanum tuberosum) which was originally bred in the Netherlands in 1962. It is a variety of potato usually used for main-crop, and is highly prized by gardeners and allotment holders.
The plant is of medium height, and can sprawl a little later on. The flowers are reddish-violet, fading to white.
The tubers themselves are fairly large if left to mature to full size as a maincrop potato. But they can also be harvested a little early for an early maincrop if desired.
The Pros of Desiree Potatoes
One of the main benefits of Desiree potatoes is that they have pretty good resistance to drought. This means that they can be a good choice where water is short in summer, or where it is more difficult to ensure adequate irrigation or water as frequently as you should.
Another good thing about Desiree Potatoes is that they have pretty good disease resistance.
This variety is immune to problems that can plague other varieties, such as potato wart and skin spot. And it also has good resistance against tuber late blight, PVY and blackleg. It also has moderate resistance to fusarium dry rot, PVA and PVX.
Another thing that people like about this potato variety is that it is a fairly waxy potato, which has a lot of versatility in the kitchen. It can be used for mashing, for chipping, for roasting, and in a range of other ways.
The Cons of Desiree Potatoes
While in general, the disease resistance of Desiree potatoes is better than many other varieties of potato, it is worthwhile noting that it can still encounter problems.
Though the tubers are generally fairly resistant to late blight, the foliage can be affected. Leaf roll can also be a problem.
And this is not a potato which is resistant to common scab, so may not be the best variety to grow if this is a particular problem in your garden. It also has a weakness to eelworms and potato cyst nematodes.
One very important thing to note is that while this can be a great option for gardeners in most of England and Wales, it does not do well in Scotland.
When grown in Scotland, the tubers can be watery and bland and yield very disappointing results. If you live further north, or in a wetter area, you will likely be better off opting for a different variety.
Buying Desiree Seed Potatoes
If you do decide that Desiree potatoes are the right option for you, you should find that you have no difficulty at all in getting your hands on some good quality seed potatoes.
The popularity of this variety means that they are widely available in garden centres, online, and in other stores. Often, you can even find bargain seed potatoes of this type in affordable supermarket stores.
However, for best results, you should try to find seed suppliers from a certified, reputable supplier, so you know where they come from, and that they are pest and disease-free.
If you buy from a reputable supplier, you should get around 10-11 good-sized seed potatoes in one 1kg bag.
Where to Grow Them
Desiree potatoes can be grown in the ground or in containers, wherever other potatoes could be grown.
They will thrive in any soil which is fertile, moist yet moderately free draining, with plenty of organic matter. And will do best in full sun.
Potatoes will do well in any soil with a moderate pH, but do best in slightly acidic soil.
Desiree potatoes, like other potatoes, can be chitted (left to form green shoots) before planting, though opinions differ on exactly how much difference this makes.
This variety is usually chitted from around the second half of February and then planted out less than a month before the last frost date in your area. For most, the best time to plant outdoors will be late March or early April.
Care Tips For Desiree Potatoes
Care for Desiree potatoes does not differ from that of other potatoes. You should keep the plants watered during dry periods if possible (though as noted above, this variety does have fairly good drought resistance).
You should ensure that the planting area is fertile, and that you take steps to maintain fertility over time.
It is a good idea to consider not only which potato variety you will grow, but also which plants you will choose as companion plants for your potatoes.
Companion planting is a great idea in an organic garden and can help you obtain higher yields.
Some companion plants to consider include horseradish, garlic, onions or other alliums, peas or beans for nitrogen fixation, parsley, sage, thyme and other aromatic herbs, and flowers like marigolds, borage etc.
Mulch can be used as an alternative to earthing up around potatoes in the more traditional way.
Comfrey leaves make an excellent mulch for potato plants, for example. A comfrey liquid feed can also be beneficial. We have also found that mulching with seaweed yields excellent results.
Though you should use natural mulch materials which are readily available in your area.
If they have been provided with the right growing conditions and been cared for well, Desiree potatoes should be ready for harvest from around 17-18 weeks after they were planted.
On average, these potatoes will be ready to harvest around the end of July or the first week of August, or a little later. Though this can vary considerably depending on conditions each year.
Make sure you store your potatoes properly to get the most out of your harvest.
Remember, Desiree potatoes are not the only option to consider. There are plenty of other interesting and versatile potato varieties to try. But Desiree could be, for gardeners in most of England and Wales, a good option to consider.
A permaculture garden designer, sustainability consultant and freelance writer, Elizabeth works as an advocate for positive change. She aims to inspire others to reconnect with nature and live in a more eco-friendly way. She also tries to practice what she preaches as she tends her own forest garden, polyculture beds and polytunnel. See her personal website here.