How To Grow Sweet Potatoes

How To Grow Sweet Potatoes
Recently  planted sweet potatoes

How to Grow Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are native to South America. Are grown all over the world, especially.

There are two types of cultivars grown in the US. One is called yams. They have a moist flesh and are derived from the cultivar ‘Porto Rico’. The other is called ’Jerseys’, which are more adapted to northern areas, and have light colored, short and chunky roots. Sweet potatoes don’t store well.

Harvesting sweet potatoes

Growing Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a warm season vegetable that tolerates drought. Slips should be planted around twelve inches apart in the row and three feet between rows. The slips need to be planted deep enough to cover the roots and a little of the actual stem. Sweet potatoes should be well watered for a few days to make sure they take.

Sweet potatoes prefer a well drained soil and do well in raised beds with light sandy soil but will also do okay in other soils. To learn all about growing your own organic vegetables purchase ‘Garden the Organic Way‘

Growing your Own Slips or do you Purchase Them? 

To plant them you use slips that are small plants that sprout from the sweet potatoes. You can grow your own slips if you do a little planning.  Save a few potatoes in the fall from your harvest or buy some in the supermarket and store them.  (If you buy these in the late winter, just wash them off thoroughly to remove any of the chemicals used to prevent sprouting.)

  • They need to be store between 65°F to 70°F for 90 days before planting time in spring.
  • These stored sweet potatoes are then planted in potting soil or loose organic soil.
  • The pot or container needs to be around eight to ten inches deep. Have plenty of drainage holes and two to three inches of sand or loose pebbles at the bottom for drainage.
  • The sweet potato roots are sliced lengthwise and planted.
  • The soil has to be kept moist and warm (at least 75°F). They are kept under white fluorescent lights or full spectrum lights for 14 to 16 hours a day.
  • Once the slips are around twelve inches tall and the weather is warm (above 70°F) then plant them outdoors.
  • The slips have to be kept moist and well-watered.

Fertilizing, Pruning and Watering

Once the plants are established and growing they need to be fertilized. You can use compost tea or apply a side dressing of organic fertilizer. Then again, later in the season, at least a month before harvesting.

Growing sweet potatoes on a raised bed

Vines should not be pruned but rather allowed to grow and become vigorous.

Watering them deeply during the dry summer heat is important for a good yield.  Later in the season as the time nears to harvesting, hold the water if you are planning to store them.

Mulching – In the early stages, mulch them to help keep weeds down and keep the soil moist. If you choose not to mulch, they will be fine, you can then weed by hand until the vines spread and cover the whole area.


The whole plant is edible. You can harvest the leaves as well as the stems while young and once the roots reach a nice size harvest as needed. It’s important that all the sweet potatoes are harvested before frost. Ideally, when temperatures drop to 55°F. Depending on weather conditions and when you planted them, they are usually ready to start harvesting after eighty five days.

It is best to cut tops off and then dig the roots.  If you do end up getting some frost and the tops get damaged, then harvest the roots immediately or cover whatever you don’t get to with heavy straw mulch or a cloth row cover (or even additional soil) until you can finish the harvesting.

Learn how to grow regular potatoes


In order to store them, they need to be cured for four to eight days. The process of curing converts the starches to sugar. To do this, they need to be placed in a warm area with relative humidity of 90% for a minimum of the four days. Once cured, you can store them at 55°F.