Saturday, January 16, 2010

Trying to Grow Okinawan Sweet Potato in Winter

I am declaring my attempts to grow Okinawan Sweet Potatoes during the Winter a failure.

I have had great success growing Okinawan Sweet Potatoes in the Summer and early Fall (see this blog entry). I thought that with the Winters in Southern California relatively mild, I could grow Okinawan Sweet Potatoes year round.

Unfortunately, that is not the case. There is not enough sunshine during the day and the evenings are too cool (low 40 degrees F) for the Sweet Potato plants to survive.

The picture to the right shows a circular Raised Bed that I have tried to grow Okinawan Sweet Potatoes. I started the Okinawan Sweet Potato plants from cuttings 3 months ago ((see this blog entry). The cuttings did not take root and have died.

The picture above shows another part of my garden where I planted Okinawan Sweet Potato cuttings 6 weeks ago (see this blog entry). I tried covering the ground with mulch to keep the plants warm. But it did not help.

The picture to the right shows Okinawan Sweet Potato cuttings in a barrel container. This container gets the most sun and is in the warmest part of my garden. I started cuttings in the container 3 months ago and I have replaced the cuttings several times since then. Still, no luck in getting any cuttings to take root.

I guess it is not surprising that I am having trouble growing Okinawan Sweet Potatoes during the Winter. The Sweet Potato is native to tropical South America. Southern California has great weather, but the weather is definitely not tropical, especially during the Winter.

At this point, I am waiting until March before I try planting any more Okinawan Sweet Potato cuttings. I am trying to preserve what Okinawan Sweet Potato plants I have left in my garden so that I can avoid having to buy cuttings again (see this blog entry) this year.

I still have Okinawan Sweet Potatoes growing in 1 part of my Garden (see picture below).

I started these Okinawan Sweet Potato plants in August, and they had enough time to take root before the cold weather settled in. Still, you can see that some of the leaves have turned dark. I had cut away some of the dead leaves. But at least, the plants are alive. I just need them to survive for another 8 weeks.

I have also taken some cuttings and put them in small containers (see picture below). I started these cuttings about 8 weeks ago. I take the containers inside at night, so they do not sit outside in the cold. Although the plants are not growing much, they have taken root and will hopefully survive until March.


  1. Do you think it would be possible to grow these Okinawan Sweet Potatoes in Montana? Also where do you get your cuttings from? I haven't found anyplace in town where I could purchase them.

  2. I live in Southern California and want to grow these. Just found some at the local farmers market and love them. Where do you suggest to get plants or seeds? Thank you.