Learning how to grow sweet potatoes is surprisingly easy – just a few plants provide a plentiful harvest. Sweet potatoes need a long warm growing season, are heat tolerant and drought resistant, and have very few pests or diseases.  All of this makes them perfect for growing in the low desert of Arizona (yay!) Here are eight tips for how to plant, grow, and harvest sweet potatoes.

8 tips for growing sweet potatoes

How to Grow Sweet Potatoes #sweetpotatoes #gardening #garden #arizonagarden #gardeninginarizona #desertgarden

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1. Plant sweet potatoes at the correct time

Plant sweet potatoes 2-3 weeks after the last spring frost, when the soil temperature is at least 65℉. Here in the low desert of Arizona, plant sweet potatoes from March through June.

How to Grow Sweet Potatoes #sweetpotatoes #gardening #garden #arizonagarden #gardeninginarizona #desertgarden

2. Prepare soil correctly before planting sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes need well-drained slightly acidic soil. Amend clay soils heavily with compost. Soil should be worked to a depth of at least 8-10 inches. Sweet potatoes can also be grown in raised beds or large containers. Plant in an area with full sun and/or afternoon shade in the low desert.

How to Grow Sweet Potatoes #sweetpotatoes #gardening #garden #arizonagarden #gardeninginarizona #desertgarden

3. Plant sweet potato slips

Sweet potatoes aren’t grown from seed like many other vegetables, they are started from slips – rooted sweet potato shoots grown from a mature sweet potato. Grow your own slips from sweet potatoes or purchase slips. 

Most varieties do well in the long growing season of the low desert. In higher elevations or places with shorter growing seasons, choose from quickly maturing varieties such as ‘Beauregard’ and ‘O’Henry’. 

Plant rooted slips 12-18 inches apart and 4 inches deep. Water well and feed with a starter solution high in phosphorus to ensure the plants root well.

How to make sweet potato slips
Soil Method for making sweet potato slips
sweet potato slips
Water method for making sweet potato slips

Looking for more information about how to grow sweet potato slips? This article about how to grow sweet potato slips will help.  

4. Fertilize once and do not prune vines

About a month after planting sweet potatoes, fertilize with an organic fertilizer with phosphate and potassium to encourage more root development.

Occasional small harvests of greens to eat is fine, but do not prune back vigorous vines for the best-sized harvests. The size of the sweet potatoes is determined by the amount of sunlight the leaves receive. More sunlight and leaf surface area that receives sun means larger sweet potatoes. 

If space is an issue, consider growing vines vertically up a trellis to allow sunlight to reach the leaves and produce larger sweet potatoes. 

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5. Water deeply and regularly

Deep watering is crucial for sweet potatoes during hot dry periods. Let soil dry out somewhat between waterings.

How to Grow Sweet Potatoes #sweetpotatoes #gardening #garden #arizonagarden #gardeninginarizona #desertgarden

6. Harvest sweet potatoes at the right time

Here are a few things to look for before harvesting sweet potatoes:

  • Sweet potatoes are ready to harvest between 90-120 days after planting
  • Harvest when tubers are at least 3 inches in diameter
  • Harvest sweet potatoes before the first fall frost
  • Usually sweet potatoes are ready to harvest when the leaves and vines begin turning yellow

7. Harvest sweet potatoes correctly

Once you have decided to harvest the sweet potatoes, cut back vines and loosen soil around the plant with a spade fork. Carefully find the primary crown of each plant, and use your hands to dig up the tubers. Shake off any excess dirt, and handle tubers carefully to prevent bruising.

How to Grow Sweet Potatoes #sweetpotatoes #gardening #garden #arizonagarden #gardeninginarizona #desertgarden

8. Cure sweet potatoes before storing

To cure sweet potatoes, set potatoes in a single layer (not touching) in a warm (about 80℉) dark area for 10-14 days. Curing allows cuts and bruises to heal. After curing, throw out or immediately use any bruised potatoes. Store cured sweet potatoes in a cool (about 55-65℉) dark area for up to 6 months.

How to Grow Sweet Potatoes #sweetpotatoes #gardening #garden #arizonagarden #gardeninginarizona #desertgarden
How to Grow Sweet Potatoes #sweetpotatoes #gardening #garden #arizonagarden #gardeninginarizona #desertgarden
How to Grow Sweet Potatoes #sweetpotatoes #gardening #garden #arizonagarden #gardeninginarizona #desertgarden

15 Comments on How to Grow Sweet Potatoes

  1. Thank you very much I didn’t know you could grow sweet potatoes in the AZ. desert. I thought the climate had to be humid.So again thank you.

    • Potatoes and sweet potatoes grow differently. It may need a larger growing area, but you could give it a try. Use the largest size bag you can and fill it completely before planting the slips, rather than adding soil as the potatoes grow (as you would with regular potatoes).

  2. My neighbor grows the bush variety in grow bags. The bush variety yield has been smaller than the vining variety in her experience.

  3. So when do I start doing the slips process ?? I have to have them ready around may to June to transferred them??

  4. My first try didn’t work out so well I planted too late. They are tiny more like green beans fat green beans. Can I still eat them?

  5. Hi! Where do you typically cure your sweet potatoes in AZ? In a closet or pantry if you keep your house at 80? Any other ideas if there is limited space? Our pantry is typically open and exposed to light with myself and kids going in and out during the day. Thanks!!

      • I like the plain and simple honesty of this comment. No one of us can know everything or have answers to everything, and when we don’t have the answer, that means someone should try it and report back and teach the rest of us!
        This is precisely the thing that is making me subscribe to your site, even though I live in New England and have a completely different set of growing conditions than you do! We should all always be learning and sharing and helping each other toward success! Good on you!!

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