How To Grow Sweet Potatoes

Posted: May 27, 2014

Bed Preparation

Sweet potatoes do not like weed competition, so lightly till the bed once or twice starting 2 weeks prior to planting. The slips may be planted directly in the ground or in raised ridges of soil 8” high to help them warm up faster and to improve drainage.

 Planting

Plant after the danger of frost has passed, when the soil is as least 65°F. Place slips 3” deep, spaced 12” apart. For vining varieties (the most common), rows should be about at least 3’-4’ apart. Rows can be closer for bush varieties. Slips will often arrive wilted or show significant transplant shock. Don’t worry! Plant as normal and after a week or so they’ll perk up.

Cultivation

Sweet potatoes can be slow starters so keep the field weeded until the plants begin to spread. Otherwise, leave them alone. Extra fertilizer tends to promote leaf growth but not increased root yields.

Harvest

Greens can be harvested throughout the season with light clipping from each plant. Stop watering 3 weeks prior to root harvest to keep mature tubers from splitting. Dig up potatoes where the slip was originally planted. Harvest can begin in early fall until no later than first frost.

Curing and Storage

Sweet potatoes should be cured to convert the starch to sugar and to toughen the outer skin for long-term storage. Store them in a warm room at 80°F to 85°F with high humidity for 10 days. Afterwards, keep them in a dark, cool location in a ventilated mouse-proof container.

Pests

Deer and groundhogs enjoy eating the young greens while wireworms and nematodes can affect the tubers. Rotating crop location can reduce soil-borne pests.

6 Responses to How To Grow Sweet Potatoes

  1. Michael Zuckerman says:

    Instructions for curing on this page instruct to keep in room with high humidity. Instructions for curing on other Sowtrue page (Our Varieties, I think) state to store in a dry place. Which is it? Thanks

  2. Sow True Seed says:

    Hi Michael – apologies for the confusion, I am fixing the info now. You definitely want to cure in high humidity high heat and then store cool and dry. Good luck!

  3. Lynn says:

    I ordered the Beauregard slips and they are growing well against my chicken run. I know the sweet potato is related to the morning glory but I am confused because I have beautiful blue flowers on the plants now, but the leaves look like two different types. Could some of the slips I received contain morning glories too? Or are these just all sweet potatoes and their flowers? I am looking forward to harvesting those potatoes soon!

  4. Sow True Seed says:

    The slips could not have contained Morning Glory seed, but Morning Glories are pretty well know for spreading around the place, so you could have sweet potatoes and morning glories growing together.

  5. Camille says:

    I live in an LA apartment complex with a very small porch space. Would you happen to know if I can grow these beauties in a deep pot? If so how many splits would you suggest per pot?

  6. Sow True Seed says:

    I think, like many vegetables, they are definitely going to be happier and more productive in the ground. However, I’ve not noticed the roots going too deep so it could work. They vine fairly prolifically, so you’d need space for them to spread out – could be quite beautiful over a balcony! Here’s a great website on container growing.

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