How to Grow Sweet Potatoes – A Beginner’s Guide

sweet potatoes plant growing in garden
Sweet potatoes, which are known botanically as Ipomoea batatas, are a type of vegetable that can easily be grown at home. Continue reading to learn the basics of growing sweet potatoes as well as common mistakes to avoid along the way.

Best Time to Plant Sweet Potatoes

This will depend largely on your local climate, but as a rule of thumb, begin to plant the sweet potato seeds in late spring when the soil has warmed up. This is the best time to ensure that the seedlings survive the weather.

To check when sweet potatoes are most likely to thrive in your area, see the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. If you live outside the US, do a quick search for ‘plant hardiness zone + [city]’.

How to Plant Sweet Potatoes the Right Way

There are a number of things to consider that will help you avoid some of the common mistakes of growing sweet potatoes in your home garden.

Often overlooked, your soil can have a huge impact on how well your sweet potatoes grow. Generally, your soil should be well-drained and fertile. Soil PH levels should be around 5.5 to 6.5.

4-6 feet apart in rows 6-8 feet apart. 12-18″ apart in rows 3-4 feet apart. The seeds should be sowed at a depth of about 8-12″. For each plant, be sure to sow at least a few seeds to ensure that at least one of them will germinate.

Begin thinning your sweet potato seedlings 12-18″ apart when slips are 6-8″ tall.

How Much Sunlight is Needed to Grow Sweet Potatoes

The amount of sunlight is another key to a successful harvest. Too much sunlight will dry out your sweet potatoes. Not enough sunlight will stunt your its growth or even kill it.

Ideally, your sweet potatoes should be getting full sun, which means as much sunlight as you can possibly give it, or at least 6 hours or more.

How Much to Water Sweet Potatoes

As you’ve figured by now, a lot can have an impact on how well your sweet potatoes do, and the amount of water is no different.

Ideally, the soil should be damp to touch; not soggy or bone dry. If the leaves on your sweet potatoes begin to change colors or start to look droopy, you need to adjust how much water you’re giving it.

Unfortunately, if you give it too much or too little water, you can kill it, so it’s best to just keep an eye on it and water as needed.

How Long Does it Take Sweet Potatoes to Germinate and Grow?

Now the fun part begins and you get to watch your sweet potatoes grow.

It takes approximately slips do not need to germinate to germinate, and a total of 100-120 days from seed to harvest.

When to Harvest Sweet Potatoes

The best time to harvest your sweet potatoes is when the leaves turn yellow and start to die back.

Sweet potatoes can grow up to about 2-4″ diameter, 4-10″ long tubers.

What Can Sweet Potatoes Be Used For?

Food Use: great for baking, mashing, and in casseroles.

Flavor Profile: sweet, creamy, and slightly earthy.

Can Sweet Potatoes Grow in Pots and Containers?

Yes, you can plant up to 1 plant per 20″ container. This can help control weeds and keep your plant from growing out of control.

It also gives you the flexibility to move your sweet potatoes around if you need to adjust sunlight or bring it indoors to avoid harsh weather conditions.

Are Sweet Potatoes Safe for Bees?

Yes, sweet potatoes are safe for bees.

According to, bees pollinate human food crops that make up about 90% of the world’s nutrition.

Given their importance in our ecosystem and food supply, I feel it is important to note that growing sweet potatoes is bee-friendly.

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