The Sweet Potato Plant
Sweet potatoes, like regular potatoes, are starchy tubers. You need to know how many sweet potatoes per plant one can harvest. You can grow and harvest sweet potatoes in as little as 100 to 140 days. You can pick between red and white variations.
The morning glory family includes sweet potatoes, which are tropical plants. They are not related to the nightshade family. A tuber is the edible component of a sweet potato.
How to Grow Sweet Potatoes
Growing sweet potatoes and having the best yields depends on several factors. You need to ensure that you use the correct soil type and fertilizer.
Sweet potatoes grow best in soil that is loose, well-drained, and high in organic matter. When preparing to plant your sweet potatoes, mix the soil with well-aged compost and place a good amount in each planting hole when planting in the garden.
You should plant the sweet potato slips during planting, spacing them at least 12 to 18 inches (30.5 to 45.7 centimeters) apart. Ensure that you cover the stems with soil up to the first pair of leaves. Fill grow bags with the growing mix, a shovel of compost, and half a cup of organic fertilizer if you’re growing sweet potatoes.
Slips are sprouts from older mature tubers that you use to grow sweet potatoes. They usually have roots. You can buy sweet potato slips from a garden center and other trustworthy sources.
Sweet potato plants are not cold-tolerant, and you should only plant them when the soil temperature is at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 degrees Celsius). The soil temperatures should also be above 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 degrees Celsius) at night.
Keep the soil warm before planting sweet potatoes by covering the planting area with black plastic for a few days or weeks before planting.
For the first three to four weeks following planting, protect your new potato plants from cool spring evenings. Cover them with a garden cloth to prevent stress on the new plants.
It’s right to use organic manure while planting sweet potato slips. However, don’t fertilize your sweet potatoes until after planting them. Sweet potatoes don’t need a lot of nutrients; too much nitrogen favors leaf growth rather than tuber growth.
The Most Beneficial Growing Conditions For A High Yield
Sweet potatoes can survive poor soil; however, providing small tubers will reduce productivity. Sweet potatoes produce an excellent harvest per plant when growing circumstances are favorable. For instance, you should provide:
- 8 to 10 hours of direct sunlight every day.
- 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) of water every week is enough, but add an inch( a centimeter) if it’s too hot.
- The soil should be somewhat fertile, slightly acidic, and well-draining.
Mulch the vines two weeks after planting if you aren’t using black plastic to smother weeds, conserve moisture, and keep the soil flexible for root development. Lift longer vines occasionally to prevent them from rooting at the joints; otherwise, they will focus their energy on producing many small tubers at each rooted region rather than ripening the main crop at the plant’s base.
You should also avoid handling plants as much as possible to avoid wounds that can make disease spores vulnerable. If the weather is dry, water the soil once a week until two weeks before harvesting, then let it dry out. Avoid overwatering since it can make the plants rot.
How to Plant Sweet Potatoes
Choose a location that is sunny and has well-drained soil. Sweet potatoes aren’t that fussy about their soil, but they like sandier soil. For roots to reach deep into the soil, they require a lot of air space. Consider raised beds if your soil is clay, rocky, or compacted.
Build up healthy, loamy soil down to 8 to 10 inches (20.3 to 25.4 centimeters) by adding compost, perlite, and coconut coir to the growth area. You should avoid animal dung and pelleted chicken excrement.
They can cause sweet potato roots to become spindly and discolored. Also, stay away from high-nitrogen fertilizers, which cause the sweet potato to generate lush leaf growth at the price of the sweet potato! When planting the sweet potatoes, keep the following in mind:
- Build elevated mounds 6 to 8 inches (15.2 to 20.3 centimeters) tall and 12 inches (30.5 centimeters) broad.
- Leave 3 feet (0.9 meters) between mounds to allow ample room for vines to grow.
- Plant the slips on a warm, gloomy day when the soil temperature reaches appropriate.
- Remove the lower leaves and just keep the upper ones.
- Ensure you bury the slips deep enough to cover the roots and stem to the leaves. Sweet potatoes will grow 12 to 18 inches (30.5 to 45.7 centimeters) apart on the nodes.
- Use a high-phosphorus liquid fertilizer to water the plants, then water them frequently for seven to ten days to ensure they root effectively.
Is It Possible for Me to Start My Plants?
Instead of buying slips, you can grow your plants, but it will take more time. Here’s how to do it.
- Look for new, smooth, organic sweet potatoes at the store or the farmers’ market in the fall. Be keen on the variety.
- Store sweet potatoes until mid-April, or about 90 days before the final spring frost, in a cold dark area. Place the sweet potatoes in containers over 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) of light, organic, well-draining soil at this time. Make sure there’s enough space between each one.
- Add a couple of inches (centimeters) of extra dirt and lightly cover. Keep the soil wet but ensure that it does not have excess water.
- Keep the soil and the space in direct sunshine at 75 degrees Fahrenheit (23.9 degrees Celsius) to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.7 degrees Celsius). If necessary, use a heating map.
- The slips will be 6 to 12 inches (15.2 to 30.5 centimeters) long with leaves and roots in 4 to 6 weeks.
- Remove the sweet potato slips together with the roots. Remove the slip and place it in water. If roots are missing, they will appear in one to two weeks.
- If it’s too early to plant, keep the slips moist in potting mix or sand until planting time.
- Harden the slips by exposing them to enough sunlight for one to two weeks. If you buy slips, plant them as soon as the weather permits.
When to Harvest Sweet Potatoes
Your sweet potatoes will be ready to harvest after 90 or 100 days. As soon as the leaves and vines begin to turn yellow or wither, it’s time to gather your sweet potatoes. Carefully dig with a garden fork, starting 15 to 18 inches (38.1 to 45.7 centimeters) from the vine’s center and working inwards while lifting the tuber.
Tubers will be around 6 inches (15.2 centimeters) deep in the soil, so dig deep enough. However, because tubers have thin skin, take care not to bruise or harm them. Finish all harvests before the first fall frost—cold or freezing weather damages ready tubers.
How To Store And Preserve Your Produce
You can eat your sweet potato tubers right away after picking them up. You can also cure them after harvesting by allowing them to dry and firm for 10 to 15 days before keeping them. Dry them in a warm place, away from direct sunshine, at around 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.6 degrees Celsius).
Curing aids in healing cuts and hardening of the skin to prevent them from rotting. Sweet potatoes become sweeter as a result of it. Once cured, keep them for 4 to 6 months at 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 degrees Celsius) in an area that is dry, cool, and has good ventilation.
When storing your potatoes, Keep them dry and wrapped in newspapers. To keep the tubers from decaying, keep them from coming into contact with the surface. Do not keep sweet potatoes in the refrigerator or at temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius). To extend the shelf life of sweet potatoes, you can dry, freeze, or can them.
How Many Sweet Potatoes per Plant
When you give sweet potatoes the right growing conditions, each plant may produce many potatoes. Each plant can produce five to ten sweet potatoes to reward your gardening efforts. The amount of care you provide your sweet potato plants during their growing season and the type of potatoes you cultivate determine yields.
And when it comes to sweet potatoes, how long do they take to grow? Sweet potatoes take 90 to 170 days to reach full maturity. They are frost tolerant and prefer whole light. Once the earth is warm enough, plant them in the broad sun at least three to four weeks after the last frost.
Is The Yield Affected By The Weather?
A sweet potato plant’s environment is crucial. It is the most important thing to consider when deciding how many sweet potatoes to plant. Even short-season sweet potatoes require around a 100-day frost-free growing season. Because these places best match the requirements, they thrive in USDA Zones 8 to 11.
Gardeners in colder climates must apply the season-extending approach to ensure that the potatoes reach maturity. You should harvest as soon as possible because the cold will damage your tubers.
How do Sweet Potatoes Grow?
Sweet potato plants swiftly spread and cover an area, rooting into the earth at leaf nodes. Bush varieties can grow 3 feet (0.9 meters) long, while vining varieties can grow 20 feet (6.1 meters) long. You should space the plants appropriately. It’s right to space the sweet potato plants from 12 to 18 inches (30.5 to 45.7 centimeters).
When to Plant Sweet Potatoes
Plant your slips three to four weeks after the last spring frost, when nighttime temperatures have reached at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius). Plant them early enough to mature correctly, but not too early that a late April frost will kill them.
If you make an order for sweet potato slips, unpack them as soon as possible. Perk up the roots by submerging them in water for two days.
Sweet Potato Growing Tips
It is important to note that when growing sweet potatoes, starting with a well-prepared location can result in a good harvest with minimal effort after planting. Raised beds are perfect for sweet potatoes since they not only encourage loose, uncompacted soil (which sweet potatoes need), but they are also simple to harvest.
You can also grow sweet potatoes in huge pots or buckets! If raised beds aren’t an option, dig down at least 12 inches (30.5 centimeters) into your bed and mound rows or hills for each plant. This adds inches (centimeters) to the tuber’s growth. Be careful to use enough organic stuff when preparing your beds. Compost, rotted leaves, and compost manure are all good options.
Don’t Be Over-Excited to Get Started
Temperature is just as crucial to healthy and fertile soil to lose soil. Sweet potato plants, native to Central and South America, have no tolerance for low temperatures, and you should not plant them until the soil temperature reaches 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 degrees Celsius).
In cooler climates, you can accelerate this by laying out black plastic a few weeks before the last frost date. In zones seven and above, this is unlikely to be necessary. Depending on the type, planting to harvesting takes 90 to 120 days, so choose an appropriate variety if you have a shorter growing season.
A Water Source
It is important to keep watering your potato plants during the first two weeks. Also, do not allow them to become too dry during their development. If sweet potatoes become too dry, they will not put energy into tuber growth. Enough water every week, just like the rest of your garden, is a decent rule of thumb.
Keep the Vines Under Control
Although certain sweet potato types, such as the Porto Rico, are bushy, most sweet potatoes are vining and enthusiastic. They can quickly spread to every corner of your garden, making a gorgeous living mulch if left to their own. But if you want enormous tubers, keep trimming the vines back to within 3 feet (0.9 meters) of the mother plant.
Because sweet potatoes only have enough time to create tubers under the parent plant in our growing climate, all those other vines are simply sucking energy from the tubers and putting it into vine growth.
Regular harvesting also makes harvesting more manageable because it’s easier to remember where the plants are. Sweet potato greens, on the other hand, are fantastic!
It’s Crucial to Use the Correct Fertilizer
Testing your soil as part of your pre-garden preparations is good. This will help you know the nitrogen levels in the soil. When your soil has a lot of nitrogen, naturally or from things you add (like wood chips and chicken poop), you’ll see many leaf growth but very little fruit development.
Make a point of contacting your county extension office to learn how to conduct your soil test. This will give you a good idea of how healthy your soil is and how much fertilizer you can safely add without throwing things out of balance.
If it’s too late this season to get a soil test in time for planning and planting, err on the side of caution and use a fertilizer that’s lower in nitrogen than it is in potassium and phosphorus when it comes to feeding your sweet potatoes. If you’re unfamiliar with the NPK sequence, the first number is nitrogen.
The best organic sweet potato fertilizers are bone meal, kelp meal, and green sand, which are lower in nitrogen than potassium and phosphorus. Don’t over-fertilize your plants! Sweet potatoes aren’t heavy feeders, so this should only be a once-in-a-while treat if your soil isn’t ideal.
How to Keep Pests at Bay
Gardeners in the south are more likely to have pest problems than gardeners in the North. Sweet potato weevils, 14-inch (35.6 centimeters) long insects with dark blue heads and wings and red-orange bodies, lay their eggs in stems and tubers. Adults attack vines and leaves while developing larvae tunnels and feed on the fleshy roots.
Footrot, which causes enlarging brown to black areas on stems near the soil and at branch ends, is also spread. Because weevils multiply quickly and are difficult to eradicate, use disease-resistant slips and rotate crops every four years. Destroy infected plants and their roots, or place them in containers with tight seals and throw them away with the trash.
How to Recognize Common Plant Illnesses
Black rot is a fungal disease that causes circular, dark depressions on tubers. Discard infected potatoes and carefully cure the healthy roots of the same crop. You should not confuse this disease with scurf, a less severe condition that causes small, round, dark spots on tuber surfaces but does not affect eating quality.
Stem rot, also known as wilt, is a fungus that attacks plants damaged by insects, careless cultivation, or the wind. Even if the disease does not kill the plants, the harvest will be poor. Plant only healthy slips to reduce disease risk; plant resistant cultivars to avoid black and stem rot. You can prevent dry rot by keeping the fleshy roots at warm temperatures.
Propagating Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are grown from slips rather than seeds, as are most other vegetables. Slips are sweet potato shoots that are mature. Learn how to grow sweet potatoes, when to harvest them, and how to cure them after harvesting.
Start the Slips
You can start slips from a sweet potato you bought at the store or from your garden. You can also order slips from mail order or Internet catalog. If you buy a potato from the store, ask if it’s a bush or a vining variety. Bush types are still vining, but at a much shorter length than vining types. Sweet potatoes are grown in hundreds of different varieties all over the world.
To start your slips, you need several healthy, clean sweet potatoes. Each sweet potato can produce up to 50 slip sprouts. To create sprouts, carefully wash your potatoes and cut them in half or large sections. Place each section in a jar or glass of water with half of the potato below the water and half above. Use toothpicks to hold the potato in place.
The slips need warmth, so put them on a window ledge or on top of a radiator.
Once your sweet potatoes have sprouted, you must separate them into plantable slips. You take each sprout and carefully twist it off the sweet potato to do this. Lay each sprout in a shallow bowl with the bottom half of the stem submerged in water and the leaves hanging out over the bowl’s rim.
Within a few days, roots will emerge from the bottom of each new plant. The new slips are ready to plant when the roots are about an inch (a centimeter) long. To keep your slips healthy, keep the water fresh and discard any slip that isn’t producing roots or looks like it’s wilting.
Prepare the Soil for the Slips
Before you plant sweet potato slips, you have a little extra work to perform. Sweet potatoes need loose, well-drained soil to develop huge tubers. You don’t want the roots to experience opposition when they try to expand within the soil. Loose soil is more crucial than nearly any other component to cultivating sweet potatoes successfully.
Plant the Slips
Plant slips in the soil with the roots pointing down. Position the slide such that the dirt will cover the bottom half with dirt while the top half with all of the young leaves is above ground.
How to Grow Sweet Potatoes in Containers
Short on garden space? You’ll be glad to know sweet potatoes may be grown in flower pots. Be careful not to injure the new plant. Sweet potatoes don’t like to be bruised or banged around too much. Gently push the surrounding dirt to set the plant and remove lingering air pockets. Continue the same way until you plant all of your slips.
Water, Water, Water
Water the slips once all of the slips are in place. You’ll need to give them a good soaking until all surrounding dirt is saturated. You will have to water the new plants every day for the first week and every other day the second week.
The waterings can happen a little further apart each week until you’re irrigation once a week. If the ground is particularly dry or you’ve had a lot of rain, you may need to adapt this plan to your garden. Sweet potatoes can endure drought, but they’ll yield less, so make sure you water them throughout the hottest portion of the summer.
When to harvest sweet potatoes may vary depending on the cultivar you have. When receiving your slips, it is necessary to read the packing. Typically, most kinds will take around three to four months to mature— about 90 to 120 days.
However, newer types also need less time and are specifically for short-season northern regions (such as Georgia Jet, Vardaman, Centennial).
How to Sprout Sweet Potatoes
Once detached from the sweet potato, place the sprout in a container with the bottom half of the stem in water and the leaves hanging out over the container’s rim. Within a few days, roots will sprout from the bottom of each new plant. The young slips are ready to plant when the roots are about 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) long.
How to Grow Sweet Potatoes From Scraps
Cut the potato in half, put toothpicks midway into pieces, and rest them in a shallow water container, the cut portion facing down. Roots will begin to grow from the bottom within a few days, while stems will appear at the top.
Once the sprouts are 4 to 5 inches (10.2 to 12.7 centimeters) in length, twist them off and lay them in a shallow water dish. Slips will begin sprouting from the roots in just a matter of days, and once the roots are one inch (2.5 centimeters) in length, place them in the soil.
Do Sweet Potato Vines Grow Sweet Potatoes?
Yes, sweet potato vines from edible sweet potato varieties will produce edible sweet potatoes. To turn your vines into a harvest of excellent tubers, plant them outside in May, and you can dig up the sweet potatoes from underground in late October when they’ll be ready to eat.
Where are Sweet Potatoes Grown?
Sweet potatoes are tropical, long-season vegetables that thrive best in long hot summers where they can have at least 150 frost-free days. Sweet potatoes will thrive in poor soil, although distorted roots may develop in thick clay or long and stringy in sandy soils.
Create long, broad, 10 inches (25.4 centimeters) high ridges with a spacing of 3½ feet (1.1 meters) apart to create the optimal atmosphere. Work with lots of compost, avoiding nitrogen-rich fertilizers that make lush vines and stunted tubes. Cover the raised rows with black plastic to keep the soil warm and stimulate vigorous growth if you are in the North.
It’s better to plant root sprouts, called slips, available from nurseries and mail-order vendors (store-bought sweet potatoes often get waxed to avoid sprouting). Save a few roots from your crop for planting the following year.
How Long Does it Take to Grow Sweet Potatoes?
Sweet potatoes mature in 90 to 170 days, and they’re exceedingly frost-sensitive—plant in the broad sun three to four weeks after the last frost when the soil has warm. Make deep holes, bury slips up to the top leaves, tamp the dirt down softly but firmly, and water well.
Sweet potatoes are a delicacy for many people around the world. They are easy to grow and cook in different delectable ways. You can mash, fry, or mill flour when preparing bread. The decision is yours. There is always a new technique to prepare these tasty potatoes that you ought to try out.
You can never go wrong cultivating these tubers as long as you offer them the ideal growing conditions. They do not ask for too challenging conditions rather than the regular ones we grow other plants in.
You will reap a good crop as they give many crops from each split. Try it out, and you will have plenty not just to consume but store for future meals. Once cured, you can keep them for a long time, making them perfect for cultivation. Also, they won’t take up any fridge room, so you can rest confident that they’re a healthy crop to produce!