How to Grow a Sweet Potato Vine Outdoors

Overview

Instead of buying sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) in the grocery store, raise your own harvest of this underground vegetable at home. Originally hailing from South America, the warmth-loving vine can grow anywhere where the soil temperature is warm enough (70 degrees Fahrenheit) for three to four months. Gardeners prize the plant for its hardy, low-maintenance nature, and it can also act as a lush ground cover.

Step 1

Break up the soil with a spade or mechanical tiller to a depth of at least 7 inches, according to the University of Maryland. Sweet potato tubers grow underground, so the deeper and the looser the soil, the better.

Step 2

Mix in a couple inches of aged compost to increase the soil's organic matter and moisture retention capacity. Fertilize the area with a single application of 10-10-10 fertilizer, applied according to the product's label since potency varies by brand.

Step 3

Bury each seed potato 4 inches deep and separate each plant by 18 inches, according to the University of Missouri. If you're growing several rows of sweet potatoes, the university suggests spacing the rows of seed potatoes apart by 4 feet.

Step 4

Water the planting area twice daily or as needed to keep the soil consistently moist to a depth of 4 to 6 inches. Once the sweet potato vines appear, reduce watering to 1 inch of water per week, according to the University of Missouri.

Things You'll Need

  • Spade or tiller
  • Aged compost
  • 10-10-10 fertilizer

References

  • "Burpee: The Complete Vegetable & Herb Gardener;" Karan Cutler, et al.; 1997
  • University of Illinois: Sweet Potato
  • University of Missouri: Growing Sweet Potatoes in Missouri
  • University of Maryland: Growing Sweet Potatoes

Who Can Help

  • United States Sweet Potato Council
Keywords: sweet potato vine, growing sweet potatoes, planting sweet potatoes

About this Author

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.