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Sweet Potato


Sweet potato, outlineIpomoea batatas | Sweet potato plants flourish in warm weather, providing attractive ground cover. Both the sweet potato and its leaves are edible.


How to plant?

Sweet potatoes do not grow from seeds. You’ll plant rooted cuttings and sprouts in a sandy soil in May–June. Space 9–10 inches in double rows down the center of the bed. Hot days and warm nights are ideal for sweet potato production, which is why Texas is a large sweet potato producer. They grow best at 70–85° F. They can also tolerate light frosts as long as the soil temperature stays above 55° F.

How to harvest?

The best time to harvest is when the sweet potato leaves turn yellow and growth has stopped just before fall frost. Prune potatoes off vines, wash gently taking care not to harm the skin, then let them sun dry. Store on newspaper in covered boxes or sacks on top of your refrigerator to cure for 10 days. As the sweet potatoes cure, the flesh inside will become sweeter and more nutritious. Afterwards, store in pantry or cupboard–never store inside your refrigerator as the cold will cause the sweet potatoes to rot.

Read more: “Sweet Potatoes” by Wayne Slaikeu, WCG Education Committee Co-Chair

Houston Varieties

  • Beauregard (most popular)
  • Georgia Jet (known for rose skin and orange flesh)
  • Centennial
  • Jewell
  • Vardaman

Urban HarvestGet gardening advice, planting guides and more

Nutrition & Recipes

Sweet potatoes have more cancer-fighting vitamin A than any other vegetable. They’re also a good source of vitamin E.

VegOut! with Recipe for SuccessHealthy habits start with great recipes


While used interchangeably, sweet potatoes and yams are different vegetables. Yams are vines cultivated for the consumption of their tubers in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and Oceania. More than 95 percent of the world’s yam crops are harvested in West Africa. Sweet potatoes were domesticated at least 5,000 years ago in Central or South America or South America. Peruvian sweet potato remnants dating to 8000 BC have been discovered.

(Source: Recipe for Success; researched by Brooke Candelaria, RFS volunteer)

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