Sweet Potato

Planting, Growing, and Harvesting Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

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The sweet potato is a warm-season, spreading vegetable of tropical origin. It is a good choice for a garden because it is easy to grow, is drought- and heat-tolerant, and has few pests or diseases. The sweet potato is also very nutritious and low in calories. Read more about sweet potatoes.

Planting

  • Sweet potatoes are grown from slips, which are sprouts that are grown from stored sweet potatoes. You can buy slips from garden centers, nurseries, or local farmers.
  • You can also grow your own slips to plant in the spring. In November (this is when the best of the new harvest will be out), go to your supermarket and look for unblemished and uncracked medium sweet potatoes. One potato should yield about 12 plants.
  • Store these potatoes in a well-lit room with a temperature between 65° and 70°F. Keep them there until about 90 days before the last spring frost date. They will then need to be embedded in soil for 90 days and kept continuously warm and moist.
  • Use a 1-½ gallon pot for every two potatoes. Remember to poke drainage holes in the bottom of the pot and fill it with 3 inches of mulch followed by garden or potting soil. Plant the potatoes in the pot at a 45° angle so that the sprouts will grow above the soil. When the slips are 6 to 12 inches tall, you can plant them outdoors as long as all danger of frost has passed.
  • After you have grown your own slips or bought them, till the area of the garden you will be using to a depth of 8 to 10 inches. Create raised beds 6 to 8 inches tall and about 12 inches wide. Use fertile, well-drained soil.
  • Plant the slips 12 to 18 inches apart in the bed, after the last spring frost date. Plant the slips deep enough to cover the roots and about ½ inch of the stem. Water the slips with a starter solution that is high in phosphorous, then water generously for a few days to make sure that the plants root well.
  • Get more tips for growing sweet potatoes.

Care

  • Side-dress the potatoes 3 to 4 weeks after transplanting with 3 pounds of 5-10-10 fertilizer per 100 feet of row. If you have sandy soil, use 5 pounds.
  • Hoe the beds occasionally to keep weeds down. Remember to reshape the beds with soil or mulch.
  • For good harvests, do not prune the vines, because they should be vigorous.
  • Remember to keep the potatoes watered. Deep watering in hot, dry periods will help to increase yields, although if you are planning to store some of the potatoes, do not give the plants extra water late in the season.

Pests/Diseases

  • Flea beetles
  • Sweet potato scurf
  • White blister
  • Fungal leaf rot
  • Stem rot

Harvest/Storage

  • You can start digging up the potatoes as soon as they are big enough for a meal. Often, this is 3 to 4 months from when you planted the slips.
  • Usually, sweet potatoes are ready to harvest when the leaves and ends of the vines have started turning to yellow, but you can leave them in the ground up until the fall frost.
  • Since the roots spread 4 to 6 inches deep in the soil, a spade fork is useful when digging up the potatoes. Loosen the soil around the plant (18-inch diameter) so you do not injure the tubers. It’s fine to cut some of the vines away.
  • Pull up the primary crown of the plant and use your hands to dig up the potatoes. Handle the potatoes carefully because they bruise easily. 
  • After digging up the potatoes, shake off any excess dirt but no not wash the roots.
  • You must cure sweet potatoes or they will not have that delicious, sweet taste. Curing the potatoes allows a second skin to form over scratches and bruises that occur when digging up the potatoes. To cure, keep the roots in a warm place (about 80°F) at high humidity (about 90%) for 10 to 14 days. A table outside in a shady spot works well. For best curing, make sure that the potatoes are not touching one another.
  • After curing, throw out any bruised potatoes, and then wrap each one in newspaper and pack them carefully in a wooden box or basket. Store the sweet potatoes in a root cellar, basement, or other place with a temperature of at least 55°F.  
  • If stored at a temperature range of 55° to 60°F with high humidity, the roots should last for about 6 months. When removing the potatoes from storage, remember to be gentle; do not dig around or else you will bruise the potatoes.

Recommended Varieties

Wit & Wisdom

Sweet potatoes will retain their color if cooked with a slice of lemon.

Sweet potatoes are a very healthy vegetable, and they provide many benefits. Learn more about why you should eat sweet potatoes.

Recipes

Cooking Notes

Check out our ten best sweet potato recipes!

To the cook, sweet potatoes are easier than pie (or sweet potato pie!).

  • They can simply be scrubbed, poked with a fork in a few places, and baked at 400°F for 35 minutes to one hour, until they give a bit when you squeeze them in your pot-holder-protected hand.
  • In the microwave, a whole sweet potato baked on high should be ready in 4 to 6 minutes. It may still feel firm when done; let it stand 5 minutes to soften.
  • Sweet potatoes can also be steamed whole, cleaned and unpeeled, for about 40 minutes or until tender, or cooked whole, cleaned and unpeeled, in boiling salted water for about 35 minutes. (Boiling reduces the flavor considerably.)
  • Immerse cut raw sweet potatoes in water until you’re ready to cook them; they will darken otherwise.

As a general rule, don’t substitute sweet potatoes for regular potatoes in recipes; the two aren’t related. Sweet potatoes don’t hold together the way potatoes do, and their strong flavor can overwhelm a dish meant for a milder potato taste. Sweet potatoes are also not related to yams. But they make a fine substitute for pumpkin, especially in desserts.

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Reader Comments

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We have been growing sweet

We have been growing sweet potatoes in a raised bed for the last few years and getting great crop(~100 lbs) every year, until this year. We dug up our bed today and found only a few (~5 lbs) sweet potatoes.

We are puzzled by what happened to the sweet potatoes. The plants were very healthy and we were expecting a bumper crop. One thing I did notice over the summer is that there were lots of ants on the leaves, although the leaves looked pretty healthy. Did the ants eat the potatoes? When we dug up the garden today, we did not see any ants.

We are really disappointed by this and are wondering if we should grow them again next year. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.

not so sweet potatoes

Hi, Anna, the first question that comes to mind is, Are you rotating the crop or planting sweets in the same soil/plot year after year? Planting the same thing in the same place year after year leads to reduced harvest over time. The “ant” might be the sweet potato weevil (it looks like an ant) and digs into the tubers (filling crevices with fecal matter—big yuck!) creating bacteria and decay. There are other sweet potato pests, too—banded cucumber beetle (yes, “cucumber”), wireworms, silverleaf whitefly…but they do not look like ants.

So it you want to grow sweets next year, make a new bed and fill it with new soil (we would put it several feet or as far away from the other bed as possible), plant something else in the old bed (see this page for suggestions, based on crop rotation http://www.almanac.com/video/how-rotate-your-vegetable-crops ) and, if you can (given how late it is in season) consider growing a cover crop now in the old/sweets bed (see advice for cover crops here: http://www.almanac.com/content/cover-crops-us)

We hope this helps!

Gardening, raising sweet potatoes

I raise beautiful sweet potatoes, and would love to have some recipts for them.reading further I see the answers ,thanks.

Sweet potatoes

We grew some sweet potatoes for the first time this year. They grew really well and we had three very large single ones but the rest were in a huge tangle wrapped around each other and some very hilarious shapes. Do you know what we did wrong? They still tasted delicious by the way! Best wished , Liz Bean

oddly shaped sweet potatoes

Hmm. Make sure that your soil is loose and fluffy, sandy loam is good. It should not be compacted, heavy clay, or rocky. The rocks or hard soil can make the sweet potatoes grow into odd shapes. There are also some diseases that can affect the growth/shape of sweet potatoes, but it is more likely the soil. Hope this helps!

Sweet Potato vines

This is the 3rd year that I have grown sweet potatoes. In the past, If I plant outside of our fenced garden area, the vines have been eaten by deer, so this year I only grew them inside the fenced area. They were doing great through the end of August. The we had a lack of rain and the leaves were getting eaten to the vine (I believe it is squirrels that can get into the fenced area). By Sept 20 or so, I had a large raised bed of leafless green vines. It's now early October and I usually wait another 3-4 weeks to harvest.
Questions:
1) Any suggestions on avoiding further damage? Is it worth the energy to put netting over the bed - or some other deterrent?
2) Should I go ahead and harvest now? or wait until right before harvest
3) Any recommendations for next year. The squirrels also ate quite a few tomatoes this summer.

sweet potato woes

Goodness! So sorry to hear about your sweet potato troubles. Here are some thoughts.
1) If you think it might be squirrels, you might visit the following page for tips on control: http://www.almanac.com/pest/squirrels
If you think there is a possibility that another animal, such as a rabbit, might be the culprit, here is an article that helps to identify what animal might be causing damage: http://www.almanac.com/blog/gardening-blog/be-critter-detective
http://www.almanac.com/pest/rabbits
2) You might dig up one potato to assess its condition. If it looks like it needs a little more time, then wait for the harvest a little longer. If the vines are still green, it could be that the potatoes are still getting the nutrients they need to grow/mature. If the vine is starting to yellow at the tips, or a frost is expected, then harvest them as they are.
3) Try to identify the exact culprit, whether it is entering the garden from holes underground or from climbing the fence. If from overhead, you might, as the least expensive option, try covering the plants with row covers or plastic tunnels. A determined squirrel may chew through it, but it might deter some. Chipmunks can easily get under those, however. For those the burrow, as well as climb, a more elaborate physical barrier system may be needed to enclose your garden (such as wire overhead fencing to deter climbers, and wire mesh buried in an L-shape pointed outward along the perimeter to deter diggers). Motion-detector sprayers might be another option. Repellents may also help.

Thank you for your

Thank you for your recommendations. The vines are sprouting new leaves - so even if the potatoes are not as big- maybe I can harvest some tasty leaves ( if I can keep the critters from them!
I have covered the area with netting.
I inspected the perimeter of our deer fencing and did find a small area that was not as secure and sure enough, there was evidence of burrowing under the fence. So, I've taken steps to block that entrance and will need to secure it better before next year's growing season. I guess that also explains why my planting of seeds for a fall crop keep getting eaten down.
Thank You for your response.

Oranged Fresh Sweetpotatoes

Where Could I Found Selected And Improved Seedlings?

Sweet potatoes

1.can sweet pot vines be be trellused or guided up over a pergola
2.is growing season long enough in upper peninsula,marquette mi. When would the slips get planted
3. What are yams

sweet potato info

1. Yes, you can grow both sweet potatoes and the ornamental sweet potato vine vertically. The vines make an attractive decoration while the tubers are growing in the soil. However, the vines don’t twine or cling, so you need to support them, such as tie the stems to the trellis loosely with strips of pantyhose.

2. Your growing season is about 154 days. (See our Frost Dates page for more: http://www.almanac.com/gardening/frostdates/MI/Marquette). There are some varieties of sweet potatoes that can work within your time frame, especially if you use season extenders and start indoors. The soil needs to be at least 65F before you plant outdoors. Planting slips outdoors would likely be in late May or June (May 11 being your last expected spring frost date).

3. A sweet potato is not a potato but the elongated root of a vine in the morning glory family. Its smooth skin can be white, yellow, brown, red, or purple. White-flesh sweet potatoes aren’t as sweet as the bright-orange types and have a drier texture. In North America, the orange types are often called yams—and there lies the confusion.

A true yam, sometimes called a tropical yam, is a tuber from one of several tropical vines. A yam can be similar in size to a sweet potato or grow more than 8 feet long in the wild. It has rough skin that can be cream, brown, or pinkish. The flesh is white, yellow, pink, or purple and is sweeter and moister than that of a sweet potato.

Can you plant a rooted sweet

Can you plant a rooted sweet potato, that was started in a jar of water, or just the slips?

Potato Slips

You have grown a slip…plant if for sure!

Harvesting Sweet Potatoes

Good morning - we planted sweet potatoes in our church garden and we're not sure of the variety - but we planted on May 14th - my question is how do we know they are ready to harvest - can you see the potato above ground or do they grow underground like regular potatoes?
Looking forward to hearing from you

Best Regards Robert W. Flowers

Harvesting sweet potatoes

Greetings, Robert! Sweet potatoes are roots that grow underground from a vine. Usually, sweet potatoes are ready to harvest when the leaves and ends of the vines have started turning to yellow. See more details above in the harvest section. All the best with your harvest, your Old Farmer’s Almanac editors

Sweet potatoes

I planted my sweet potatoes in may is it safe to say I should harvest them in the fall, maybe November?

harvesting sweet potatoes

The days to maturity for sweet potatoes will vary with variety, and ranges between about 90 days to 140. If you know the variety that you are growing, count out the recommended days from the time you planted for a guideline as to when to harvest. For example, if you planted on May 15, and you had a 120-day variety, you would harvest around the middle of September. Some gardeners harvest early sweet potatoes in late summer, when they are about 1-½ to 2 inches long, but others wait until they are of a more mature size, usually harvesting around September/October, when the leaves start to yellow, or there is a light frost, but before there is a killing frost and before soil temperatures drop to 55F and below. It will depend on your climate. For a general guideline for your area, visit the following page and type in your zip code – it will give you a chart with planting and harvesting dates for various crops, including sweet potatoes.

http://www.almanac.com/gardening/planting-dates

growing sweet potatoes

For 6 to 7 years now, I have been cultivating sweet potatoes on the same land, and my output is getting lower. What could cause that?

Sweet Potatoe Vines

My sweet potatoes vines are running all over the garden. They are green But the leaves have a few eaten areas on them. Is it okay to spray them with seven spray?

Chewed Sweet Potato Foliage

Since this is a crop you will consume, we wouldn’t recommend spraying it with pesticide. Instead, try to identify what is chewing your plants. A number of leaf-eating insects are active at night. Bring a flashlight into the garden after sun down to see what’s out there (check the underside of the foliage). In some cases, you can curb the problem by picking off the predators and dropping them into soapy water.

Sweet potatoes

Will sweet potato vines survive in temperatures of 100 degrees or more. I don't know if I should put up a sun screen for them. Live in Phoenix, Az.

Sweet Potatoes High Temperatures

The soil temperature for sweet potatoes that have not yet come above ground should be between 75ºF and 80ºF. When the plants come above ground, the air temperature should not be more than 85ºF. We would recommend a sun screen to keep temperatures at this level.

Potatoes and tomatoes in the same area

I have a raised bed garden with tomatoes an I planted sweet potatoes, the vines are wrapping itself around the tomatoes, will it harm the tomatoes?

sweet potatoes

I planted sweet potatoe slips in my raised bed and they were growing and looking great. I checked on them yesterday and all the leaves had been eaten off by some animal. Will the potatoe re-sprout or is it a lost cause?

Sweet Potatoe Leaves Gone

The sweet potatoes should be fine if leaves aren’t eaten down to the quick. The best bet to protect your plants is to spray the leaves with Deer Off or lay black plastic deer netting over the plants. If the leaves are completely gone, you’ll just have to wait and see.

Sweet patatoes

How do I know when they are ready for harvesting? Currently, I have little flowers on the plant, they are busy falling off.

Henry

When to harvest sweet potatoes

When the sweet potato vines start to turn yellow, it is time to harvest your sweet potatoes. In the northern regions, this time is close to frost. The flowers do not signify anything for a sweet potato. They are ornamental.

Zone 6 - WV

Hi,
I am wanting to try to plant sweet potatoes this year. We tried last year and all of the rain in WV just ruined so many of our crops, it was not a good year. I live in North Central WV - zone 6. When would you suggest planting the slips and any tips to keep them thriving?

sweet potatoes

For planting times for sweet potatoes in your area, please see the following page and input your zip code. This will tell you the best times to plant according to frost dates from the nearest weather station in your area.

https://www.almanac.com/gardening/planting-dates/

For advice on growing sweet potatoes, please see our article above. Also, you might be interested in this audio clip from the West Virginia University Cooperative Extension:

http://marshall.ext.wvu.edu/ag-minute/201⅘/22/sweet-potatoes

Hope you have a great crop this year!

Forgotten Sweet Potatoes

Last fall I harvested my sweet potatoes and set them in my warm basement to cure before moving to cool location. I forgot to move them out of the warm basement. They started growing lovely vines. Not knowing what to do I put the sweet potatoes halfway in water. The vines kept growing so I cut some off and rooted in water. I just cut the rest off the potatoes (which were starting to get soft) and stuck them in water. Can any of these be used to grow my new crop this year? If so, do I just keep them in water until it is time to plant outside in Pennsylvania?

Hi Jill,

Hi Jill,

Yes, you can use your slips for planting. When the roots are about an inch long the slips are ready to plant. While you are waiting for the garden soil to warm up make sure to keep the water fresh and discard any slips that are not producing roots or look like they are wilting. To speed things up you can cover a section of your garden with black plastic to warm the soil and then you can cut holes in the plastic to plant the slips. Make sure the soil is nice and loose before covering it with the plastic.

started to grow our first lot

started to grow our first lot of vegies in our new garden beds bet the most of the vegies whent to seed in stead of harting up way would they do this

veggies gone to seed

Vegetables can sometimes go to seed early if the weather gets too warm, or the plants are stressed in some way. Check for pests, diseases, or other damage, and make sure that the plants are getting enough light, water (but not too much), and nutrients.

sweet potato

Hi, I am trying to grow a sweet potato in water for the first time. I have tons of roots but nothing is happening on the top. Why am I not getting any stems or leaves?

no leaves

Make sure that the sweet potato has not rotted. Also, you might try placing it in a warmer environment. Sometimes it takes a while for them to sprout, but they like to be cozy warm.

Hi, im sorry to disturb you

Hi, im sorry to disturb you all, but have a ?? Why chilling injury for sweet potatos can contribute to"hardcore", a condition in which the root center remains hard even when cooked? All that found in McGhee encyclopedia, but can understand why?

Chilling injury occurs when

Chilling injury occurs when sweet potatoes are exposed to temperatures between 32 and 55°F. The ideal storage temperature for sweet potatoes is 55 to 60°F. Hardcore is a physiological disorder. It can develop when sweet potatoes are exposed to 50°F for as little as 3 days or in a single day if exposed to 35°F.

Didn't really cure the potatoes

Hi,

I planted and harvest beuregaurd sweet potatoes for the first time this year. I got a very nice yield. However since I live in New England and harvested them a few weeks ago, I was unable to cure them. We just don't get 80degree days in mid-late October. I had them in my 65-70 degree basement (which has relatively high humidity but not 90%). Will they still be good? How long will they last?

Thanks in advance for your help.
Kevin

Hi Kevin,

Hi Kevin,

 

Some folks use a small heater in a bathroom to get the right temp. and humidity to cure sweet potatoes. Your potatoes are probably not going to be very sweet and they will not last for months. The best uses for these potatoes are sweet dishes like candied sweet potatoes or pies where you add sugar to the dish.

Ola.im in mid Portugalwith

Ola.im in mid Portugalwith beautiful fertile land on what used to be river bed. Frost will settle and I have slips formed now( also some vines in the ground thriving).i have a winter garden above the frost.. Tho no water till rain . Or can I ask the slips to wait till spring? How? Or should I eat them and start afresh at the right time? Thank you

Hi, I am trying to find

Hi,

I am trying to find where I can buy sweet potato slips from. could you please advise? I would like to plant 1 acre.

Many thanks

We do not sell sweet potato

We do not sell sweet potato slips but if you just put "Buy Sweet Potato Slips" into Google, there are a couple of sellers including Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and Sandhill Preservation.

Hi, i planted a few sweet

Hi, i planted a few sweet potatoe plant in the beginning o f may, they grew great, but i noticed that parts of the vine are not growing under the dirt. the vines are long, even starting to yellow some but it goes back to the orginal plant, so when harvestin them do i just poke around the roots of the plant? Or are they supposed to grow and the vines attached themselves to undergoround along they way. I hope im making sence>>
Thank you

I'm not sure that I

I'm not sure that I understand your question, but sweet potatoes will begin to develop around 30 to 45 days after planting; after about 95 days, they might be ready to harvest, but they can be left longer as long as there is no danger of frost. They can develop any place the vine touches down onto the soil and forms roots, but roots will not form all along the vine, just in spots. Too much nitrogen will discourage rooting. When harvesting, check for the sweet potatoes around the original area where you planted the slips (as far out as about 12 inches around the main stem) as well as along the vines. Be gentle, as the potatoes can bruise easily. Some people harvest by gently pulling back the tips of the vines until they reach a point where the vine has rooted and formed sweet potatoes; once those are harvested, continue pulling back the vine/harvesting, until you reach where it meets the main part of the plant; then harvest the main crop.
Some people lift the vines occasionally as they are growing to discourage rooting, because, although rooting may result in more potatoes, they may be smaller and would take away the energy put into developing the main crop growing underneath the main stem. Other gardeners prefer to let the vines be, and still may find some good sized sweet potatoes even at spots further out on the vine.

Can you still eat sweet

Can you still eat sweet potatoes that has spouts on them I has heard they are poisonous and not eat able? These are last year crop,

First, remove the sprouts. If

First, remove the sprouts. If the sweet potatoes are not sunken, wrinkled, or dried, they can be eaten. However, the sweet potatoes will not have optimum taste.

I just planted my slips

I just planted my slips (first time ever), and was wondering if you have to hill sweet potatoes as they grow (like white potatoes) or just let them go? I planted lace leaf and Bradshaw varieties. Thanks!

Hilling is not necessary for

Hilling is not necessary for sweet potatoes. Make sure you plant the slips deep enough to cover the roots and about 1/2 inch of the stem.

Thanks for the great info!

Thanks for the great info! Have purchased my first Beauregard slip and recently planted it and it seems to be doing well so far! Am on MA/NH border, and we r having a chilly late spring.. Keeping my fingers crossed!

Hi! My sprouts were almost

Hi! My sprouts were almost ready to be taken off the sweet potato when I had to leave home for 4 nights. When I got back the potato smelled really bad, even though it still had water. The sprouts doesn't look as green as they used to. Is there any chance that the plant can survive, or does it sound like I need to throw it away?

You probably should discard

You probably should discard it and start over. When a sweet potato starts to rot, sometimes you can cut out the rotting part and continue on growing the slips. However, it sounds like the rot has set in to most of the potato, and is affecting the sprouts; there is a possibility that any disease might be carried with the shoots if you transplant them. For healthy plants, it might be best to start over.

If the rabbits ate the leaves

If the rabbits ate the leaves off of the sweet potato plants, will they still grow ? They are Beauregard

Hi, Joan, Plants

Hi, Joan, Plants photosynthesize through their leaves. So, it might depend on whether all of the leaves are gone and/or if you can protect and nuture those that remain. Some people harvest and eat tender young leaves. So if you have a few leaves remaining, chances are greater that these will survive. Keep at 'em.

Rabbits ate my leaves, leaves

Rabbits ate my leaves, leaves came back, rabbits came back. Leaves came back again so I huZcng a tin pie plate in center of plot where potatoes were plantwd. Now I have beautiful healthy plants and anxiously waitin for time to dig.

is it right that you

is it right that you shouldnt let the vinesroot into the ground i grow them along side of fence or trellis and the vines crawl long fence or trellis the sweet potatoes seem to grow bigger under the ground

After one digs up a sweet

After one digs up a sweet potato, how soon can it be eaten. I was told that it had to ripen or cure for a few days before eating or else it wouldn't be edible.

Sorry if i'm joining the

Sorry if i'm joining the conversation a bit late, but i just wondered how harvesting and eating the leaves will affect the potato crop?

Hi, Jannis, Harvesting a few

Hi, Jannis, Harvesting a few sweet potato leaves and young shoots for cooking should not harm the plant; just do not take too much. How much is too much? That should depend on the size and health of the plant. Some growers harvest the tips of the plants—the newest leaves on the end of a vine—and combine those with a few other things from the garden for stir fry or salads.

I have cats living in my back

I have cats living in my back yard. Since the ASPCA says sweet potato vines are toxic for cats, should I not plant them? Will the cats eat them?

I have cats living in my back

I have cats living in my back yard. Since ASPCA lists sweet potato vines as toxic to cats, should I not grow them in my yard?

cats 'n' sweet potato vines

I have 3 cats, and there are feral cats that come in my vegetable patch where sweet potato vines are growing. They don't eat the vines.

Hi I cut a sweet and got it

Hi I cut a sweet and got it to sprout in a slip - using the toothpick/water method. The potato part is moldy - will this cause any problems when I plant the slip? Should I try to cut the slip from the sweet? It has great long roots below this slip too. Appreciate all the great info, thanks!

Carefully twist the slip off

Carefully twist the slip off of the sweet potato. Put the slip in a shallow glass and submerge the bottom in water (not the leaves). After a few days you should see roots. When the roots are about an inch long, you can plant the slip.

Thank you! I'll try it and

Thank you! I'll try it and report back in the fall!

Could you please advise me? I

Could you please advise me? I had 4 sweet potatoes that were uneaten, so I cut them in half and placed them in a glass casserole dish of water. I renew the water so it's fresh. So far almost all have sprouted multiple shoots with leaves. Some have reached over a foot and they are growing out of the potato. The place where the potatoes were cut (and placed in water) have produced lots of hairy-looking white roots. I realize I should probable plant them outside now...but how do I do that? Should I cut the shoots off of the main potato and plant (without roots)? --Or should I plant the entire potato half (which has multiple shoots on the tops and white roots on the bottom)? I have a compost pile made from horse manure and one from worm castings...any advice on how I should prep my soil? I live in a tropical climate. Any help would be great...I'm new at this. Thanks!

Any advice Almanac Staff?

Any advice Almanac Staff? Waiting for reply. Thanks.

Cut the slips off the tuber.

Cut the slips off the tuber. Then place them in a cup or glass with a couple of inches of water to soak. Within a few days you should see some roots. Then you can plant them into pots or in the ground. Sweet potatoes like rich soil. Add plenty of compost to your soil. If you are using the horse manure make sure that it is aged properly and doesn't contain any fresh manure.

I bought some sweet potatoes

I bought some sweet potatoes that have sprouted while I was storing them. I would love to plant them. Can I plan in large pot or 5 gallon pail?

Hi, Daelynn: Please see

Hi, Daelynn: Please see "Planting" above for tips. You can start them in containers as you suggest, but eventually they would probably prefer more room. Then again, nothing ventured, nothing gained, so give it a try!

I live in an area with heavy

I live in an area with heavy clay soil and have started using raised beds with much success rotating planting a every year. My question is can I plant sweet potatoes in a bed used for regular potatoes last year and vice versa? Thank you.

Sweet potatoes and potatoes

Sweet potatoes and potatoes are not in the same family. You can plant one where the other was last year. Here's a great video on crop rotation: 
http://www.almanac.com/video/h...

I bought seeds and right now

I bought seeds and right now they have their first set of true leaves coming on. I don't see any postings about seeds only slips. What should I do? (I live on the coast in So OR very close to Northern CA)

Hi Michelle, Sweet potatoes

Hi Michelle,
Sweet potatoes are started from slips and not seeds. Do you still have the seed package that your seeds came from? Maybe you bought ornamental Sweet Potato Vine seeds. This is an annual plant with usually yellow flowers.

Do you cut up a sweet potato

Do you cut up a sweet potato like a regular potato ,but make sure it has an eye in each piece ?

The sweet potatoes in your

The sweet potatoes in your kitchen, presumably from a grocery store, may have been treated with a sprout inhibitor (some potatoes are, too). You might seek out organic ones, ideally something that has started to send out slips—roots. If you can't find one of those, choose the freshest, least blemished one/s you can find.
Here's one option: Put the sweets into a warm, dry paper bag and see if any roots develop.
Or try this: Do not cut a sweet into pieces to plant. Instead, plant the entire organic tater (this step you could try concurrently with the bag, if you have enough sweets) in potting soil. It should sprout slips. When these reach several inches in length, you can cut them and a piece of the "mother" tater and plant separately.
You can also put the narrow end of the tater into a glass of water, holding the sweet in place on the rim by prodding it with toothpicks. Put it in the sun, and in about 10 days you should see growth at the bottom. For long green foliage to develop, cut off all of the weak slips/roots, leaving 2 or 3 strong ones, and plant it in potting soil.
Sweets indoors or out like warmth.
Good luck!

Google "sweet potato science

Google "sweet potato science project" before buying conventional sweets & trying to make slips!

Just harvested ours. Trying

Just harvested ours. Trying to cure them for the first time - where do you find a warm, humid place to cure them in mid-November?!?

You're right. It can be hard

You're right. It can be hard to cure sweet potatoes at such warm temperatures and high humidity around the home in cooler regions. In the absence of better facilities, they can be cured near a furnace to provide warmth. If the temperature near your furnace is between 65 to 75°F, the curing period should last 2 to 3 weeks. To maintain the required high humidity (85 to 90 percent relative humidity), stack storage crates or boxes and cover them with paper or heavy cloth. Packing in perforated plastic bags will also keep humidity high, yet the perforations will allow excess moisture to escape.

Why do my sweet potatoes look

Why do my sweet potatoes look like long carrots? We're in middle of Oh & it was a beautiful growing season here for all other produce. Soil was tested in 2013 due to low yield the previous yr. & 3 generations of rabbits! Per the OSU extension office the soil was nitrogen depleted in 2013. We amended with Nitrogen in fall after harvest & again in spring with 14-14-14. The sweet potato leaves were lush & prolific yielding tons of little sweet potatoes! 2 yrs earlier (the last planting of sweet potatoes from mail order growers) yielded potatoes the size of footballs. I did use slips from a store bought sweet potato this yr. & planted in early/mid May. Peppers (Bell, Jalapeno, Pimento, Banana & Sweet Italian) were grown around the sweet potatoes. Are the store bought sweet potatoes treated to retard future growth or did the peppers steal nutrients from the sweet potatoes? I miss my Thanksgiving Sweet Potato Harvest! Thanks

Sweet potatoes grow best if

Sweet potatoes grow best if you add plenty of compost to the soil, but avoid nitrogen-rich fertilizers that promote lush vines and leaves and stunted tubers. Store bought sweet potatoes are often treated to prevent sprouting so that could also have caused the small tubers.

I live Nashville TN planted

I live Nashville TN planted sweet potatoes
June vines, not yellow are they ready to dig small bed. Planted beside squash have removed squash bush. Sweet potato vines still blooming

Hi, Jeanette: You can dig

Hi, Jeanette: You can dig them up if you want to, but we'd leave them in the ground until the end of the month -- or until you get word of your first frost coming up (which is usually about October 28). But beat the frost, and be gentle.

My first harvested sweet

My first harvested sweet potatoes have very dark patches on their skins even after washing; when scraped with a fingernail, underneath is bright orange. Wassup with this coloring? Is it just the variety I planted and are they still edible?

Hi I live in Durban (South

Hi I live in Durban (South Africa) I have bought sweet potatoes from the store and I planted the few that had sprouts,its growing well above ground,when can I check if its ready and how many shud each plant produce.Thanks Kashin

We have grown sweet potatoes

We have grown sweet potatoes for the past 2 years here in SC. Started with slips from store bought potatoes and this past year slips from last years crop. We are fascinated with the sizes and shapes of the yield. Everybody gardening should try planting them at least once. My first bed was 10 feet by 4 feet. Vines were everywhere so allow for this. We just dug up some and got two huge potatoes that looked like swans on the same vine. They weighed over 2 lbs each. Get the kids involved in the digging.

I have just dug my sweet

I have just dug my sweet potatoes and would like to know if there is anything I can do to the soil to prepare for my next years planting? Jan in Iowa

I bought a huge sweet potato

I bought a huge sweet potato that weighed around a pound and wasn't able to cook it when I had planned. It grew quite a few "eyes," one of which was about 6" long when I found it hidden in a corner of the kitchen counter. I cut about an inch and a half off the end of the potato and put it in the ground under a bank of low windows about 10' long. I watered it from time to time all summer when I watered my grape vines and other backyard flowers. That vine is now about 2' wide and a foot high and has wrapped around the end of the house by about 3'. My husband just told me he sprayed that 3' section with RoundUp. The rest of the vine, all on the ground, had put on a dozen flowers. 1) Will the RoundUp on that end kill the whole vine? 2) If I cut that part of the vine off would the rest of ot be safe from the RoundUp? 3) Do you think there would be any sweet potatoes under the vine? 4) If it's safe, should I dig up anything or wait to see if the vine is going to live since there is so much of it? There are some purple leaves around where I originally planted it, and only one yellow leaf in the same spot. Can you advise me?

Just leave the vine as is, no

Just leave the vine as is, no need to cut anything off. You can harvest as soon as the leaves turn yellow, but some gardeners wait until after the first frost to dig the potatoes. The longer the potatoes are left in the ground, the higher the yield and vitamin content.

Since round up in made to

Since round up in made to send the killing ingredients to the root of plants & that is what a sweet potato is a root. I would say nice try till hubby destroyed it but no don't continue dig & throw away! ASAP

Please stop using Round Up.

Please stop using Round Up. It is toxic and should not be used anywhere near areas children play, food is grown, or where anyone cares about the earth. It should be banned. Please don't eat any sweet potatoes from that area. They've been poisoned.

My mother was growing a sweet

My mother was growing a sweet potato plant in her yard and it was so beautiful that I was considering planting the ones I have sitting on my kitchen counter, with the plan to keep them as a houseplant. Is this too crazy? I have two very large pots for this plan.

Hi, Helen, Lots to talk about

Hi, Helen, Lots to talk about here. First, the sweets on your counter, presumably from a grocery store, may have been treated with a sprout inhibitor (some potatoes are, too). You might seek out organic ones, ideally something that has started to send out slips—roots. If you can't find one of those, choose the freshest, least blemished one/s you can find.
Here's one option: Put the sweets into a warm, dry paper bag and see if any roots develop.
Or try this: Do not cut a sweet into pieces to plant. Instead, plant the entire organic tater (this step you could  try concurrently with the bag, if you have enough sweets) in potting soil. It should sprout slips. When these reach several inches in length, you can cut them and a piece of the "mother" tater and plant separately.
You can also put the narrow end of the tater into a glass of water, holding the sweet in place on the rim by prodding it with toothpicks. Put it in the sun, and in about 10 days you should see growth at the bottom. For long green foliage to develop, cut off all of the weak slips/roots, leaving 2 or 3 strong ones, and plant it in potting soil.
Sweets indoors or out like warmth.
Good luck!

Hello. We have been growing

Hello. We have been growing sweet potatoes for the past 5-6 months now, and we have noticed that the plant is flowering above the ground. Is this okay, and do sweet potatoes actually grow above ground like pumpkins as compared to below like potatoes?

Sweet potatoes grow under the

Sweet potatoes grow under the ground. In most areas, you dig up the potatoes around the time of the first frost in the fall. Some varieties flower though it's not common in most U.S. regions. The flowers attract pollinators which are a good thing!

Hi! I'm in Tucson Arizona and

Hi! I'm in Tucson Arizona and bought 2 Ruby Red ,cut them up and tossed in the ground. Now a month later the plants are a 1-2 ft. Combo with some vines that are taller than me ...with a grasshopper problem. What r my chances, tips? And with 2 pets how can I get these lil buggers to go away? Thanks!

Hi, Grace, Sources tell us

Hi, Grace, Sources tell us that the best control of grasshoppers for a small crop such as your is hand picking, that a variety of natural enemies—bee flies, blister beetles, ground beetles, spiders, rodents, birds and disease—should keep them in check.
The last two pages of this Cochise CountyMaster Gardener newsletter from Nov 1999 describes the problem in particular in your vicinity:http://ag.arizona.edu/cochise/... You might also contact them for specific information.
You might also read and contact the source quoted, as he is in your area. According to this, your sweets should be thriving. We don't know what might be the challenge (in addition to the 'hoppers). http://post.uanews.arizona.edu...
Finally, hope for a very cold winter. That would destroy the eggs.

Grace, I had grasshoppers

Grace, I had grasshoppers like a plague this summer. I wanted to kill them with something that would not kill the bees, or contaminate the plant. I mixed liquid Sevin into bran, oatmeal, or even dry cereal, let it dry, stirring to keep it broken up. Then I broadcasted this mixture over my garden. It didn't stick to any part of the plant, and was quite effective as the grasshoppers ate the bait.

My five year old put a sweet

My five year old put a sweet potato in water and roots have sprouted, can we plant this now?

The sweet potato needs to

The sweet potato needs to develop slips, not just roots. Please see the planting advice above.

My sweet potatoes are showing

My sweet potatoes are showing above ground. What should I do,can I cover them up and wait or dig them up? The variety that I planted is beuregaurd.

Hi Darlene, If the tops are

Hi Darlene,
If the tops are still green the potatoes are still growing. We suggest that you cover them up with soil and wait another month before checking to see if they are ready to harvest.

When you mention "tops" does

When you mention "tops" does this mean the vine or the root? Thank you.

"Side-dress" Not familiar

"Side-dress" Not familiar with this word or term. What does this mean?

Also, I've read the vine leaves are stable and actually ate one. Although their taste is starchy, it was tender and mildly flavored.

Does the vine produce more sweet potatoes as it grows?

How much room or slips does it take for enough potatoes to feed a family of 4 for a month?

:)

Sorry Correction "Stable" to

Sorry Correction "Stable" to Edible...

"Side-dress" means to apply

"Side-dress" means to apply fertilizer on or in the soil near the roots of a plant.
 
Sweet potato leaves are edible to humans, but regular potato leaves are not (different plant family). Sweet potato vines are listed by the ASPCA as toxic to dogs, cats, horses, and some other animals.
 
The plant may form tuberous roots (the sweet potatoes) along the length of the vine in sections that have developed normal roots. A tuberous root is a thickened modified root, and contains buds on one end, which will develop stems and leaves in the spring; the other end will form tiny roots.
 
As for how many to plant, it depends on how many sweet potatoes your family will eat. :-) Sweet potatoes will yield about 8 to 12 pounds per 10-foot row.

8 - 12 lbs per 10' row? I

8 - 12 lbs per 10' row? I planted just one sweet potato plant (Beauregard)in north Arkansas and it yielded 30 lbs. One of the potatoes was 6 lbs. I've always found them to be exceptionally prolific.

Wow! That's a lot of sweet

Wow! That's a lot of sweet potatoes from one plant. 'Beauregard' is known to be high-yielding and you must have the right growing conditions.

I put potato in a cup and

I put potato in a cup and it is growing long vines. Can this be planted and how.
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I put sweet potato in a cup

I put sweet potato in a cup of water and it is growing long vines from it. Can it be planted?

Yes, break the vines off at

Yes, break the vines off at the potato, place in a jar & let it root, then plant. They are called slips.

When is a good time to start

When is a good time to start growing sweet potatoes in the uk

im sorry if i seem dumb, does

im sorry if i seem dumb, does the potatoe grow above ground on plant or in the ground like long island potatoes

No worries. Sweet potatoes

No worries. Sweet potatoes grow under the ground. 

I live Ontario and am

I live Ontario and am trying to grow sweet pototes for the first time. We have always enjoyed them in recipes and as sweet potato fries .

Thanks for the info. I have

Thanks for the info. I have learned a lot today. Thank you. Patsy

Sweet Potato thrives very

Sweet Potato thrives very well in my locality Offa,Nigeria and it's environs.Could you kindly connect me to interested growers or business partners who may be keen in investing in massive growth of Sweet Potato in Nigeria.
My future plan is to cultivate Sweet Potato and turn into it's various nutritional values such as flour,chips,noddles and other food items.Thank you.

Thanks for the information

Thanks for the information and looking forward for more info

If the temperature should be

If the temperature should be between 55 and 60 F what should the humidity be during long term storage.

Sweet potato roots are stored

Sweet potato roots are stored between 55 and 60 degrees F with high relative humidity (>90%) for a storage life of 6 to 10 months.

I bought one little plant at

I bought one little plant at a plant sale just to try it in our climate---Powell River, BC Canada. I know it has potatoes as they came out of the ground and I hilled them up. The vines are really growing. Will they put down more roots and then more potatoes? Can I protect the vines over our usually pretty mild winters and keep the whole thing going or do I need to start over in the spring?
thanks, this is exciting.

Depending on the variety,

Depending on the variety, sweet potato vines are hardy in zones 8 through 11. The vines will not survive in cold weather, but in climates free of frost, the tubers should survive the winter and sprout new vines come spring.

Please help me. I LIVE IN

Please help me. I LIVE IN SOUTHERN cALIFORNIA AND HAVE PLANTED SWEET POTATOES. DURING THIS WINTER THE PLANTS LEAVES HAVE TURNED YELLOW AND LEAVES DIED?. aRE THEY DEAD OR SHOULD I JUST LEAVE THEM THERE AND COME SPRING THESE VINES WILL SPROUT NEW LEAVES. PLEASE HELP I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH THEM. THEY'VE SPREAD ON MY BACKYARD WITH ALL LEAVES NOW YELLOW THIS WINTER. SHOULD I JUST LEAVE THEM ALONE? PLEASE SENT ME THE ANSWER ON MY E MAIL. THANK YOU.

Did your field get hit by

Did your field get hit by frost? If so, it's possible that they died. Look at the vines. Are they green/alive or brown and dead? To be safe, you may want to dig up the sweet potato tubers if they are in good shape and store for spring growing and prepare your soil for replanting.

Why do plant seeds grow on a

Why do plant seeds grow on a 45* angle???
Plz answer fast because my science fair depends on this

Botanical Name: 

Ipomoea batatas

Plant Type: 

Sun Exposure: 

Soil Type: 

Soil pH: 

Hardiness Zone: 

Flower Color: 

Bloom Time: 

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