Planting Sweet Potato Yam in an Apartment

Asked May 5, 2014, 8:23 PM EDT

I had a sweet potato (yam) since Thanksgiving 2013. To my amazement little buds began to grow. I now have four long stalks, another three bud and what appears to be roots growing from each end of the yam. Having lived in Jamaica and a lover of sweet potatoes, I would like to plant it. I looked online but am clueless as to how to remove the stalks. Would anyone at your extension be willing to show me how? I would gladly come to your location for assistance.Thank you for your time and response.Christine of SW Fargo, ND

Cass County North Dakota

1 Response

Hi Christine,

I am going to assume that you have a sweet potato and not a yam. Grocery stores are more likely to sell sweet potatoes than yams in our area. Yams are very different than sweet potatoes and require tropical conditions to grow.

Even though sweet potatoes are less tropical than yams, they are very difficult to grow in North Dakota because our growing season is not long enough. To maximize your chances of actually getting a few sweet potatoes at the end of the season, you should start by ordering slips of early maturing sweet potato varieties like Georgia Jet or Beauregard.

You have indicated that you would like to plant the slips from the sweet potato that you have. You can gently twist the sprouts (called slips) off the sweet potato. Put the slips in a shallow bowl of water until they root. You can transplant these slips into your garden around Memorial Day or when soils temperatures reach 65 deg. F. You can check area soil temperatures by checking NDSU's NDAWN site. Sprouts can be planted one foot apart in rows 40 inches apart in well-drained soil. Keep them watered thoroughly for the first 50 days or so. Sweet potatoes mature in 85 to 120 days depending upon the variety. Sweet potatoes are much more sensitive to cold temperatures than regular potatoes. Temperatures below 55 deg. F may cause chilling injury. There are no guarantees that you will get a sweet potato crop in North Dakota but there is no harm in trying a little experiment. It all depends how long the warm weather lasts in September. If the vines are exposed to frost, harvest the sweet potatoes right away.

Best of luck!