Red Pontiac Potatoes: A Guide To Planting, Growing, Harvesting, & Recipes

Red Pontiac Potatoes are a popular gourmet potato variety with sweet white flesh and thin red skin. This all-purpose variety is excellent for harvesting as new potatoes and also makes fantastic mashed potatoes. These potatoes are also known for growing well in heavy clay soil and for storing well. Red Pontiac is a midseason potato variety and generally takes 80-100 days after planting to harvest.

Read on to learn all about Red Pontiac Potatoes!

Red pontiac seed potato bags
Red pontiac potatoes: a guide to planting, growing, harvesting, & recipes

Introduction To The Red Pontiac Potato

Red Pontiac Potatoes are an all-purpose variety with sweet, white flesh and red skin. These versatile potatoes are perfect for growing as new potatoes, making mashed potatoes, or storing long-term. They also grow well in heavy clay soil and maintain their quality over time. With a midseason growth cycle of 80-100 days, Red Pontiac Potatoes are a great choice for gardeners of all skill levels. Whether you are an expert potato grower or just starting out, these red beauties are sure to please!

Where To Buy Red Pontiac Seed Potatoes

If you are looking to purchase Red Pontiac Seed Potatoes, there are a variety of online suppliers and garden centers that carry these red-skinned gems. Some popular online retailers include Amazon, eBay, and Etsy, while local stores such as Walmart and Home Depot may also carry them.

Red pontiac potatoes
Red pontiac potatoes: a guide to planting, growing, harvesting, & recipes

Preparing Seed Potatoes For Planting

Larger seed potatoes are generally cut into a few pieces and pre-sprouted indoors prior to planting outside. Seed potatoes over about 1-2 ounces or wider than about an inch may have more than 4-5 “eyes” (sprouting locations) on them and can be cut up. Leave 2-3 eyes on each piece and set the cut pieces in a warm location for a day or two to dry out a bit. The potatoes can then be “chitted” (pre-sprouted).

To chit your seed potatoes, place them in a cool, dry indoor location out of direct sunlight. Let them sprout for 2-3 weeks until the sprouts are an inch or two long. Then plant the tubers outdoors.

When To Plant Red Pontiac Potatoes

Red Pontiac Potatoes should be planted in the spring, about 2-3 weeks before the average last spring frost. Beginner gardeners may wish to wait until after the last frost has passed to avoid having to cover the potatoes if temperatures dip.

How To Plant Red Pontiac Potatoes

To plant Red Pontiac Potatoes, start by preparing your garden bed by incorporating plenty of organic compost. Choose a site with full sun exposure and well-draining soil if possible (although this variety is tolerant of clay soils), ideally near a source of water. Potatoes grow best in slightly acidic soil.

Once your garden bed is ready, dig shallow trenches about 6-8 inches apart, and place a handful of potato seeds in each trench, about 12″ apart. Cover the seed potatoes with about 2-4 inches of soil, and water well to moisten the soil.

How To Grow Red Pontiac Potatoes

Throughout the growing season, be sure to keep your potatoes evenly watered and well-fertilized. In general, you should provide about 1-2 inches of water per week throughout the growing season (either from rainfall or supplemental irrigation). The best way to water the plants is with drip irrigation or a soaker hose as these methods avoid getting the foliage wet (and potentially encouraging disease).

When the plants are about 6-8 inches tall, mound up additional soil around the base of each plant to encourage more potato development and shield the tubers from sunlight. Leave about 2″ of foliage above the soil line. Continue hilling up the potatoes every few inches as they grow.

Red Pontiac Potatoes will benefit from being fertilized throughout the growing season. A balanced fertilizer that’s not overly rich in nitrogen can be applied every 4-6 weeks. You may also wish to top-dress with compost.

Companion Plants For Red Pontiac Potatoes

Some good companion plants for Red Pontiac Potatoes include peas, parsley, carrots, and onion. These vegetables share similar growing requirements and can benefit from each other’s company in the garden. For example, peas help to fix nitrogen in the soil, which is used by other plants like potatoes.

Read more about companion planting for potatoes here.

Harvesting Red Pontiac Potatoes

Red Pontiac Potatoes are typically ready for harvest about 90-100 days after planting, while smaller “new” potatoes can be harvested at 80 days. The plants will begin to yellow and die back when the full-sized potatoes are ready.

To harvest, simply dig up the tubers with a garden fork or spade. Take care not to damage the potatoes as you dig them up. Once harvested, allow the potatoes to cure in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated location for a few days before storing.

Recipes For Red Pontiac Potatoes

Red Pontiac Potatoes are excellent all-around potatoes and can be used for boiling, mashing, frying, or in salads. Here are a few simple recipes that highlight the red potato’s versatility:

Roasted Red Potatoes

Cut red potatoes into quarters and toss with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast at 425 degrees F for 20 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.

Loaded Baked Potatoes

Start by baking red potatoes in the oven until tender. Then, top with shredded cheese, green onions, bacon, and sour cream.

Red Potato Salad

Boil red potatoes until tender and then chop into bite-sized pieces. In a large bowl, mix the potatoes with diced celery, red onion, hard-boiled eggs, and red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

Pests Affecting Red Pontiac Potatoes

Garden pests that may affect Red Pontiac Potatoes include wireworms, aphids, and Colorado potato beetles. Wireworms are small red or yellow worms that feed on the roots of potatoes, weakening the plants and reducing yields. These pests can be controlled by rotating crops to reduce their populations over time.

Aphids are small sap-sucking insects that may cause wilting and discoloration of the potato leaves. They can be controlled by introducing beneficial predatory insects like lady beetles or lacewings, which feed on aphids and help keep them under control.

Colorado potato beetles are red and black bugs that typically emerge in late spring to early summer. These pests feed on the leaves and stems of potato plants, causing yellowing and wilting. To prevent infestations, try using row covers to protect young plants and natural predators like birds or praying mantises to help control beetle populations. With proper management, you can grow healthy Red Pontiac Potatoes in your garden despite these common pests.

Diseases Affecting Red Pontiac Potatoes

Red Pontiac Potatoes are susceptible to a variety of plant diseases, including bacterial wilt, verticillium wilt, early blight, and late blight. Symptoms of these diseases include yellowing or wilting leaves, browning or spotting of the foliage, and soft or sunken spots on the tubers.

Bacterial wilt is spread by cucumber beetles and can be controlled by using row covers to prevent the beetles from reaching the plants. Verticillium wilt is spread by soil-borne fungi and can be controlled by solarizing the soil or using an organic fungicide.

Early blight and late blight are both caused by fungi that are spread by wind and rain. These diseases can be controlled by using resistant varieties of potatoes, removing infected plant parts, and applying a fungicide. With proper management, you can grow healthy Red Pontiac Potatoes in your garden despite these common diseases.

FAQs

What are Red Pontiac potatoes good for?

This all-purpose variety is excellent for harvesting as new potatoes and also makes fantastic mashed potatoes.

How big do Red Pontiac potatoes get?

According to Burpee Seeds, Red Pontiac potatoes will usually grow to be about the size of a baseball.

What type of potato is a Pontiac?

Red Pontiacs produce red-skinned tubers with white flesh.

Do Red Pontiac potatoes store well?

Yes, Red Pontiac potatoes store very well.

Resources

Looking for more potato varieties to plant in your garden? Try one of these!

More resources for planting and growing potatoes:

References

Potato, Red Pontiac by Burpee Seeds

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Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a gardening expert and founder of Home for the Harvest. She's also an engineer and certified permaculture garden designer. Mary Jane has been featured by publications such as Real Simple, Mother Earth News, Homes & Gardens, Heirloom Gardener, and Family Handyman.