Fingerling Potatoes

March 10, 2006

Fingerling Potatoes remain obscure even as their heirloom cousins such as the yellow fleshed and All-Blue varieties grow in popularity and show up regularly at the local grocers.

Fingerling Potato Characteristics

I like fingerling potatoes because they’re unusual, attractive, tasty, and easy to grow in the backyard garden. Fingerlings are also very productive and display very good disease resistance.

As the name suggests, fingerling potatoes are somewhat finger shaped in appearance. They are smaller, longer, and much narrower than the more common and popular potato varieties.They also have fewer and shallower eyes.

Skin colors range from red, pink, and white, to yellow, purple, or cream colored. The flesh is usually white, yellow, pink, or blue in color.

Cooking with Fingerling Potatoes

Fingerling potatoes are delicious and can be prepared and cooked the same as ordinary potatoes. Some fingerling varieties such as “Russian Banana” are especially suited to creating fantastic potato salads because of their flavor and firm, almost waxy textures.

In addition to making great potato salads, fingerlings are great when boiled, baked, or roasted. They can even be grilled, roasted over coals, or added to vegetable kabobs.

Cultivation and Harvesting

Plant fingerling varieties just as you would plant other varieties, except you can plant the seed tubers whole or cut in half. The growing season is longer for fingerlings and they require more time to mature and size up.

Don’t bother with trying to harvest baby fingerlings, just let them grow until it’s time to harvest mature potatoes when the vines start to die back. After harvesting, brush the dirt off but don’t wash them until you’re ready to cook them, and avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight.

Attractive Fingerling Varieties

Popular fingerling potato varieties include:

  • Rose Finn Apple – Great tasting fingerling with rose colored skin and yellow flesh.
  • French Fingerling – Another red skinned, yellow fleshed fingerling potato.
  • Swedish Peanut – Nutty flavored, golden fleshed potato that is good baked or roasted.
  • Russian Banana – These yellow tubers create the ultimate potato salads.
  • Red Thumb Fingerling– This one offers red skin covering reddish-pink flesh.
  • Purple Peruvian – A slightly finicky, purple fingerling potato variety.

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  • I know I am jumping seasons here, but:
    Are potatoes a root crop that can overwinter?

    I’m in zone five, S/E Michigan.

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Jenn, it depends on what you mean by overwintering and what you’re trying to accomplish. Here in Zone 6 potatoes that are missed at harvesting time in the summer or fall will survive the winter in the ground and sprout the following spring. But you won’t get any fall growth from the tubers and they won’t sprout any sooner than spring planted seed potatoes, so there’s no benefit gained from fall planting or attempting to overwinter. You also run the risk of the roots being damaged by extreme cold or that they wind up being snacked on before spring arrives.

  • That answers my question. Thanks!
    (I was curious about the plants sprouting from the compost pile!)

  • dave anderson

    Hi Kenny great website and full of great gardening tips this is my first visit since joining.
    Never heard of fingerling potatoes before potatoes are one of my main interest since becoming an allotment holder some years ago and i try as many different varietys as i can each season.Will be putting up your web site address on my notice board so other allotment holders can see for themselves what a good site for gardening it is thans .regards Dave Anderson Dundee scotland

  • Robin

    Hi, I was just wondering if you can grow the fingerling potatoes in Alberta, Canada? If so where would I purchase them in order to grow them? Thanks.

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Robin, I’m not familiar with the climate in your area, but if you can grow regular Irish type potatoes in your region you shouldn’t have any difficulty growing the fingerling potato varieties. You can try the Seed Savers Exchange as a source for certified fingerling potato seed stock.

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  • Mimi

    Decided on planting fingerling, but after I planted I realized that perhaps I planted the rows to close. The spacing if 12″ per potatoes, but the rows are only 12-16″ apart. Will that be a problem?

  • Kenny Point

    Mimi, that planting distance is fine for your fingerling potatoes but be sure to hill some soil up along the rows as the plants grow to provide a little more depth, give support for the vines, and to prevent the tubers from becoming exposed as they begin to mature.

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  • Larry U

    Hi I live in Southern Alberta Canada and was wondering where to look for and buy Fingerling Seedlings

  • Is it possible to grow the potato from a potato with roots on, and if so when do I plant?

  • Kenny Point

    Hi June, if you mean potatoes that have sprouted, yes they can be planted, provided that the sprouts are strong, short, and thick rather than weak, long, and spindly looking.

  • Thanks for your reply. Think I will give it a try!!! HAGD

  • madeline

    i love eating these they taste grate and are really easy to cook. what im wondering is if they are exotic and hard to find or if they can be found anywhere that sells potatoe seeds. if you know please reply ASAP.

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Madeline, fingerling potatoes are not difficult to find unless of course you are shopping for them in the grocery store. Even there they are becoming more popular these days. Many of the seed potato suppliers offer fingerling type seed stock. I have purchased seed potatoes from both and the Seed Savers Exchange in the past.

  • madeline

    Thank You! I will do that!

  • Judy Hofmeister

    Where can I get some Russian Finngerling seed potatoes in a hurry?

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Judy you can try Wood Prairie Farm or the Seed Saver’s Organization, but it’s usually a good idea to order your fingerling potato seed stock early because they often run out as the planting season rolls around. Good luck.

  • Joe

    So, are Swedish Peanut Fingerling Potatoes an early, mid, or late season variety? I am having a tough time finding out if I need to do some “hilling” on them or not. I found out with Yukon Golds I don’t do any hilling since they are an early season variety.

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  • gloria

    Best info on fingerling potato yet!! Florida (zone 9) gardening in box suitable for this guy?

  • Kenny Point

    Sure, fingerling potatoes will grow in containers, boxes, or barrels.

  • Def T


    I know this posting is late but it might help someone else.

    I grew Swedish Peanut Potatoes last year (during that horrible growing season when here in New England we had no sun for 2 months) and from what I found out this variety of potato are late season so hilling is necessary.

    I grew Yukons last year too and like you found out they don’t need any hilling. It’s kind of a low matainence potato to grow. Throw them in the ground and watch them grow!

    Good luck.

  • Jay

    I live in Northern Ohio. I planted Russian banana fingerlings in trashcans on May 15. About 1/2 of the vines coming out of the trashcans are dying back. The other half are still green. Should I harvest now or wait until all of the vines die back? Thanks for your input.

  • Joe

    Hi Jay. I would leave them in and wait for the other vines to die back as well. It is not going to hurt the potatoes on the vines that already died back if they stay in the ground. I let my Yukons stay in the ground for over a month (after the vines died back) before digging them up and there were no problems.

  • Jay

    Thanks, Joe. I harvested one trashcan of three this weekend because I did not want to get all of the potatoes at once. There were probably 50-75 potatoes. Some were large, but quite a few were pretty small. I will wait until all of the vines die back to harvest the other trashcans.

  • Paul

    My wife talks about “houlton potatoes”, that she ate in Maine. Is this a specific strain, or a general term for spuds grown around Houlton, ME? How would I obtain some in MI? Or, is it possible to grow them in MI?

  • Kenny Point

    I never heard of a variety of potatoes called “Houlton,” it may just refer to potatoes grown in that part of ME. If you can find seed you should be able to grow them in MI. I would contact some of the potato seed companies located in ME and see if they can help you identify or locate the seed.

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