Sweet Potatoes


Sweet potatoes are a very-tender vegetable that grows best in warm weather. They spread on the ground as a thick groundcover, so look for bush varieties if growing in a small space or square foot garden.

Spring Planting

Sweet potatoes are planted from “slips”–these are small plants created by cutting a piece of sweet potato vine, or sprouted from a mature sweet potato. Plant slips in the garden 2 weeks after the spring frost date.

You can make your own slips, or purchase them. To plant from a vine, cut one foot from a sweet potato vine. Remove all the leaves except the top cluster, and plant the vine in the ground so only the top leaves are above the surface.

To grow sprouts, 4 weeks before the spring frost date, place a sweet potato in a jar of water suspended by toothpicks or skewers. Half of the potato should be submerged under the water. Change the water every several days. Transplant the sprouts 2 weeks after the spring frost date by separating them from the potato, removing all but the top several leaves, and planting the stem in the ground.

Water daily for the first week, and every other day for the second week.

Fall Planting

Sweet potatoes require lots of sun and night time temperatures above 55°F (13°C) to set fruit, so even in areas without frost it is unlikely you can grow them during the winter.

Soil and Fertilizer

Sweet potatoes grow best in loose, well draining soil; prepare the soil at least 8” deep and amend with lots of compost. You will need at least 10-12” (25-30cm) of soil if growing in a raised bed.

Fertilizer: Apply 16-16-8 at planting


Let the sweet potatoes grow as long as possible. After the first light frost, carefully harvest the potatoes to prevent bruising. Let them dry outside for several hours, then cure them for 1-2 weeks at 80-85°F (27-30°C). Store in a cool, dry location.

More Resources

Happy Gardening!

You may also like...

2 Responses

  1. Fred says:

    I do so appreciate this info. My wife has had 3 back surgeries. She so loved to garden with flowers and vegetables. Bending over is a no no. She will enjoy all the advise you can provide. We have never done this before so all help will be appreciated. Thank you so much!! One thing I am curious about is how to get green beans, cucumbers ect to climb over your curved trellis. Again Thanks so much.

  2. Mary in FL says:

    Don’t forget – the leaves are edible and nutritious, too! They are a nice addition to a gumbo, since they are kind of slimy.