Learn how to grow sweet potatoes. A root vegetable with deep orange flesh, delicious sweet potatoes are commonly grown in southern regions as they require four months of warm weather; northern regions can have success with select varieties. Here’s how to plant, care for, and harvest sweet potatoes!
A large, naturally sweet-tasting root of the morning glory family (not related to potatoes), sweet potatoes are a very undemanding crop to grow as long as you have sun and warm soil; this is a tropical plant. Sweet potatoes are drought- and heat-tolerant and have few pests or diseases.
Though traditionally more of a Southern crop, there are many short-season varieties of sweet potato today which will grow in the North (even parts of Canada!) when grown in raised beds that are mulched with black plastic.
The sweet potato is also very nutritious, a top source of beta-carotene, and relatively low in calories. Just a few plants can produce a generous harvest of this orange-fleshed vegetable, which can be stored even longer than winter squash.
Sweet Potatoes vs. Yams
Sweet potatoes are sometimes called yams, even in grocery stores. Technically, they are NOT a true yam which is a giant dry tuber from Africa, sometimes found in specialty shops. The sweet potato that we grow in the U.S. has a deep orange flesh and copper skin. So whatever you or a grocery store may wish to call it, we’re growing what you see in the photo below!