Skip to Content

Top 5 Tips for Planting Perfect Sweet Potatoes

Here are my top 5 tips for planting perfect sweet potatoes your family can enjoy your sweet spuds all Winter long.

If you’re a fan of sweet potatoes, then these tips for planting perfect sweet potatoes are sure to be just what you need. There are several different things to consider when you decide to plant and grow your own sweet potatoes. 

I have a confession to make: Sweet potatoes are not amongst the easiest veggies to grow. They can actually be quite hard. Over the years, I’ve had my share of struggles with some years not even getting a good crop. But lessons learned and now I can share them with you. While planting time is important, it is not the most important consideration for getting a great sweet potato yield. Actually, my top 5 list might surprise you a little. 

In this post, I’m going to include:

~ My top 5 Best Tips for Planting Perfect Sweet Potatoes for best results.

~ How to care for sweet potato plants during the long growing season.

~ My experiences with growing sweet potatoes so that you can learn from my mistakes. 

Let’s start at the beginning with planting slips or plants. What do you look for when you get to choose the right starter sweet potatoes?

This post contains Affiliate Links. This means if you click and buy, I might make a commission at no cost to you.
See my policy for more information

Starting with Slips

​I’ll be honest – I don’t have a ton of experience with planting sweet potato slips. I will be planting sweet potato slips this year. In the past, I’ve only planted plants. 

What are sweet potato slips? Simply put, sweet potato slips are sprouted sweet potatoes. All you have to do is plant the whole sweet potato into a well-drained soil. Also, you can plant them a little bit later than sweet potato plants. The best time to plant slips is the first part of June and they should be ready to harvest by the end of September. 

​You can grow your own slips just by letting a sweet potato sprout. More on that process later. Let’s talk about plants. 

1. Selection of Plants

Every good ending starts with a beginning. This is the first step. The selection process of the parent plant is one of the most important processes when growing good quality, high-yielding produce. You want your plants to have good green color, and healthy, full leaves. I definitely find what I’m looking for at my local garden center or I look online for good healthy plants to be shipped to me.

A pro tip of mine is to check with your local garden center before you go looking to see when the sweet potato plants will arrive. You can also find certified disease-free plants from your local green house. Then, you can go to the store and you know you’re going to get fresh plants at the right time. And here’s why:

The first year I planted sweet potatoes, we went to four places around town before we found sweet potato plants available. And it was well worth the wait, because they had just come into the store earlier that day. These plants were good color and very few buggy spots.

I snatched four flats of nine up and we were on our way home to plant!

Tips for Planting Perfect Sweet Potatoes

Before you start planting, you’ll want to make sure your sweet potatoes will have the most ideal conditions for growing. A huge tip that lots of growers overlook is checking the soil temperature. Sweet potatoes need the soil to be at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Grab a Soil Thermometer Here.

Once you have the ideal planting spot for your sweet potatoes, plant according to the following: 

  • Space slips about 12-18 inches apart in rows 3-4 feet apart.
  • Plant slips deep enough to cover the roots and up to the first pair of leaves.

You can also plan on getting your soil ready to go before you get your plants. That way, you can get them right into the fertile soil to start growing. Let’s talk about soil next. 

2. Selection of Soil Type

What kind of soil do sweet potato roots thrive in? 

The ultimate location to grow sweet potatoes include one that has full sun, lots of room for the sweet potato vines to spread and good sandy-loam soil for good root development. Sandy soil dries out quicker than clay soil, which is more ideal for root crops. If you have clay soil, you can work to amend it and make it softer. You can also grow sweet potatoes in grow bags with soft potting soil. Sometimes I wonder if sweet potatoes would do better in containers rather than garden beds. 

But amending the soil is truly possible. Most of our gardens started out as Clay soil but for many years we’ve been adding in livestock manure and other fertilizers in the fall. All Winter long, our large round hay bales were parked near our creek near the edge of our property. The moisture and rotten organic matter from the hay has increased the moisture content and environmental quality of the soil. You should see the earthworms in the soil!

After moving the remaining hay bales to a different location, I decided to plant sweet potatoes, squashes, and pumpkins in this area. The soil was soft and black so they thrived in this soil. Once you get your soil good enough for Sweet Potatoes to thrive in, you’ll need to control the weeds. 

3. Weed Control

Working the Hoe all summer?? Ain’t nobody got time for that! 

​Since I have 3 kids and work full-time hours from home, I NEED a low-maintenance garden. The concept of a low-maintenance garden never occurred to me growing up but I’ve had to learn lots of short cuts and make adjustments to my garden schedule because life is very busy. And if I want to have amazing sweet potatoes to harvest, I need to take care of them. 

One of the hardest things sweet potato growers must do is control the weeds. 

Weeds can choke out your sweet potato crop and bring in diseases and other problems. It’s best to just decide you’re going to set up some systems ahead of time to make your life easier. 

For my life, black plastic mulch is the perfect weed control. I do run the weed eater around the plastic because weeds and grass will grow up around the plastic. It will make your garden spot look so nice and neat with minimal effort.

4. Food & Water for Sweet Potato Tubers

All living things need food and water, especially sweet potato plants. Sweet potatoes are heavy feeders, which means they need a lot of nutrients to thrive and grow.  The main symptoms of food and water deficiency is yellow leaves and dry soil. You can sprinkle a granular fertilizer at the base of each plant and then water to soak it in. That is the perfect combination to a perfect diet.

The amount of water that sweet potato plants need depends on your soil. As I mentioned above, certain soils hold water longer than others. Wherever you choose to plant your new plants or your own sweet potato slips, should depend on if your soil has good drainage. This can be garden soil or potting soil in containers. It’s important to check the soil and your plants to make sure they are getting enough. 

5. Protection

In previous years, our perfect sweet potatoes were attached by fluffy, cute little VARMITS! Some local neighborhood bunny rabbits believed that my sweet potato stand was an all you can eat salad bar.

One year, I decided to use chicken wire and make large cages to get them started. So, I made them and then “stapled” them with bent wire into the black plastic. It’s actually worked pretty well so far.

Another year, I made some mistakes by not protecting them and I didn’t do a great job of weeding. I lost many plants because of the pesky rabbits and I don’t take those chances anymore. It’s important to me to be able to grow our own food and there is absolutely no excuse for loss that could have been prevented.

A few years ago, we were gifted a cat who has greatly reduced the amount of varmints to our farm and garden. One cat has turned into several and they are all hunters. I fully credit them to cleaning up our farmstead. We see little to no rats, mice, snakes, bunnies, squirrels and others. There are plenty of beneficial wildlife you can attract to protect your plants. 

tips for planting perfect sweet potatoes

Harvesting Sweet Potatoes

How do you know when it’s harvest time for your sweet potatoes? Well, sweet potato harvest happens when the leaves and ends of the vines start to yellow. About 3-4 months after planting them, it’ll be time to harvest. Here’s how to do it:

  • Carefully dig up the tubers with a spading fork without damaging them.
  • Allow them to dry on the ground for a few hours.

To prevent fungal diseases and help your sweet potatoes last longer, let them cure before you store them away for Winter. It’s talk about that next. 

Curing and Storing

It really is a good idea to properly cure sweet potatoes before letting them sit all winter. When we harvest sweet potatoes in late summer, we can still enjoy tasty sweet potatoes in May/June. That is, if we cure them properly. Here’s how: 

  • Cure sweet potatoes in a warm (85°F / 29°C) and humid (85-90% humidity) place for 4-10 days.
  • After curing, store them in a cool (55-60°F / 13-16°C), dark, and dry place.
  • Properly cured sweet potatoes can last for several months.

Following these steps will help you grow healthy and productive sweet potato plants for a long time into the future. Happy gardening!

~Much Love~


Plant Your Best Summer Crops Now!

Don't forget important information, such as planting depth, spacing, etc. Simply enter your email address below to instantly receive a one-page printable sheet with the Top 8 Garden Produce planting specs.

Powered by ConvertKit

Summer Garden Planting Guide for Home Gardens

Saturday 6th of May 2017

[…] ** Read more about choosing perfect sweet potato plants […]

Summer Garden Planting Guide for Home Gardens

Saturday 6th of May 2017

[…] ** Read more about choosing perfect sweet potato plants […]

Comments are closed.