Okinawan sweet potatoes, known botanically as Ipomoea batatas, are a delicious and nutritious vegetable that you can easily grow in your own garden. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about growing Okinawan sweet potatoes, including common mistakes to avoid for a successful harvest.
Quick Reference Guide for Growing Okinawan Sweet Potatoes
|Planting Time||2 weeks after last spring frost|
|Plant Hardiness Zones||Check USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map|
|Soil Type||Rich, well-drained, pH 5.6-6.6|
|Plant Spacing||12-18″ apart in rows 3′ apart|
|Watering||Keep soil damp to touch|
|Germination Time||Not typically grown from seed|
|Days to Harvest||150-180 days|
|Harvest Time||When leaves begin to yellow|
Best Time to Plant Okinawan Sweet Potatoes
The ideal planting time for Okinawan sweet potatoes depends on your local climate, but as a general rule, plant the seeds 2 weeks after the last spring frost. This timing ensures that the seedlings survive the weather. To find out when Okinawan sweet potatoes are most likely to thrive in your area, consult the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. If you live outside the US, search for ‘plant hardiness zone + [city]’.
How to Plant Okinawan Sweet Potatoes the Right Way
To avoid common mistakes when growing Okinawan sweet potatoes in your garden, consider the following factors:
Soil: Your soil should be rich and well-drained with a pH level of 5.6 to 6.6. Learn more about soil pH levels.
Planting: Sow seeds 1″ apart in rows 3′ apart, at a depth of 8-12″. Plant at least a few seeds per hole to increase the chances of germination. Thin seedlings to 12-18″ apart when slips are 3-4″ tall.
How Much Sunlight is Needed to Grow Okinawan Sweet Potatoes
Sunlight is crucial for a successful harvest. Too much sun can dry out your Okinawan sweet potatoes, while insufficient sunlight can stunt growth or even kill the plant. Ideally, provide your Okinawan sweet potatoes with full sun.
How Much to Water Okinawan Sweet Potatoes
Watering is another essential factor for growing healthy Okinawan sweet potatoes. The soil should be damp to touch but not soggy or bone dry. Adjust your watering if the leaves change color or appear droopy. Be mindful of over- or under-watering, as both can harm your plant.
How Long Does it Take Okinawan Sweet Potatoes to Germinate and Grow?
Expect to wait approximately 150-180 days from seed to harvest for your Okinawan sweet potatoes. Note that they are not typically grown from seed.
When to Harvest Okinawan Sweet PotatoesHarvest your Okinawan sweet potatoes when the leaves begin to yellow. These plants can grow up to 6-12″ tall vines with tubers.
What Can Okinawan Sweet Potatoes Be Used For?
Food Use: Okinawan sweet potatoes can be baked, roasted, mashed, or used in desserts.
Flavor Profile: These sweet potatoes have a sweet, creamy, and nutty flavor.
Can Okinawan Sweet Potatoes Grow in Pots and Containers?
Yes, you can grow Okinawan sweet potatoes in pots and containers. Plant up to one plant per 5-gallon container to control weeds and manage growth. Container planting also allows you to move the plants to adjust sunlight or protect them from harsh weather conditions.
Are Okinawan Sweet Potatoes Safe for Bees?
Okinawan sweet potatoes are safe for bees. According to GreenPeace.org, bees pollinate human food crops that make up about 90% of the world’s nutrition. Given their importance in our ecosystem and food supply, it’s vital to note that growing Okinawan sweet potatoes is bee-friendly.