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How to Care for a Sweet Potato Vine

By Joshua Duvauchelle ; Updated September 21, 2017
Grow your own sweet potato harvest at home.

Grow sweet potato vines (Ipomoea batatas) in your backyard garden for both a lush ground cover and a bountiful harvest of the vine's sweet tubers. Though the potatoes themselves come in various colors, with orange being predominant, all of them are known for their sweet flavor and high vitamin A content, according to the University of Illinois. The vines are very low maintenance and drought tolerant, but require basic care to ensure optimal potato growth.

Prepare the gardening area. Because sweet potatoes are grown for their underground tubers, use a spade to breakup the soil to a depth of 8 inches or more to allow the tubers adequate room to develop.

Fertilize the soil. Mix in 3 to 4 inches of aged compost to improve the soil condition and add micronutrients. Follow with an all-purpose granular fertilizer--the University of Missouri recommends a 10-10-10 product for sweet potatoes--applied at the rate listed on its label, as potency varies by product.

Plant the seed potatoes. Bury each seed potato 4 inches deep and space them apart by approximately a foot, according to the University of Missouri. If you're growing more than one row of sweet potatoes, the University of Illinois suggests you separate the rows by approximately 4 feet.

Water the planting area once a day with enough water to moisten the soil to a depth of 5 to 6 inches. The sweet potato shoots will usually appear within 14 days.

Reduce watering as soon as the vine shoots appear. The University of Missouri recommends watering once a week.

Spread mulch around the sweet potato vines as soon as they're 4 inches tall. Use 2 to 3 inches of mulch. This keeps weeds out from among the vines and also helps to condition the soil and conserve soil moisture.

Harvest the sweet potatoes. The tubers are typically ready for collection within three to four months of planting. Use a spade to gently uproot the plants to locate the underground tubers.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Spade
  • Compost
  • Fertilizer
  • Seed potatoes
  • Water
  • Mulch

Tip

  • Sweet potatoes grow best when the soil temperature ranges between 70 degrees and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the University of Illinois.

About the Author

 

Joshua Duvauchelle is a certified personal trainer and health journalist, relationships expert and gardening specialist. His articles and advice have appeared in dozens of magazines, including exercise workouts in Shape, relationship guides for Alive and lifestyle tips for Lifehacker. In his spare time, he enjoys yoga and urban patio gardening.