Sweet potatoes

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Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) belong to the family of wind plants (Convolvulceae) and are originally from Central America. In the 15th century they came to Europe and the rest of the world through the Spaniards. Because of their tasty and nutritious tubers, they have gained great economic importance in many parts of the world. Especially in the poorer regions of South America and Africa, where the population relies on the vegetable production of their own, the sweet potatoes, also called potatos, are therefore among the staple foods. However, their name often causes confusion, because in fact the sweet potato is only very distantly related to the well-known potato (Solanum tuberosum). By contrast, there is no relationship whatsoever with other tuberous plants such as Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus).

Appearance and growth

The shape of sweet potatoes, which are actually storage roots, varies from round to spindle-shaped. Batatoes grow up to 30 centimeters long and can even weigh several kilograms in their tropical homeland. The color of the tubers may be white, yellow, orange, pink or purple, depending on the variety. From the tubers drive long shoots with a lot of foliage. The light to dark green leaves are heart-shaped and petiolate - at first glance, they are reminiscent of ivy. The ornamental varieties that exist from the Bataten, also form pretty colorful flowers, but have a very short flowering time.

sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes can put a considerable weight on the balance

Location and ground

The one-year and non hardy sweet potatoes are heavy eaters and prefer a loose and sandy soil rich in nutrients and humus. Ideal is a high nitrogen content. Batards are very sensitive to cold, which is why they need a sunny and sheltered location in the garden. In our latitudes they are best pulled in the balcony box, in the raised bed or in the greenhouse. In mild regions, they also thrive outside. With uniform soil moisture, the sweet potato uses plenty of daughter tubers during the summer months.

Pre-culture and planting

Unlike for example potatoes, sowing with sweet potatoes is not really worthwhile, because the seeds germinate only very badly. The preculture of tubers works better. The planting season for Bataten usually begins with the end of hibernation in April and May, but the plants can be driven from January. For this, the sweet potato tubers are simply placed in tubs or boxes with loose soil. In a bright room, the tubers drift out in even soil moisture after a few weeks.

Sweet potato in a glass of water

Sweet potatoes reliably form roots and shoots in a glass of water

In addition, you can hang the tubers of sweet potatoes, similar to an avocado core, half in a glass of water and put on a bright window sill. If the shoots are sufficiently long - about 20 to 30 centimeters - you can either plant out the whole tuber or only the shoot cuttings. Use the whole tuber, should it look about halfway out of the ground.
If you do not have a greenhouse, you should only plant sweet potatoes outside after the ice saints because of the risk of frost. If no frost is expected at the end of May, the exotics get a sheltered place in large planters on the balcony or terrace, in a mild wine-growing climate, they also mature in the outdoor bed. For a good harvest planters with a capacity of at least 30 liters are required. If one plants the Bataten in the bed, then a row distance of 30 to 50 centimeters is to be kept.

Crop rotation and mixed culture

In case of strong eating root vegetables such as sweet potatoes, the observance of a crop rotation is recommended for successful cultivation. At the same time you prevent diseases, pest infestation and one-sided leaching of the soil. So change the bed year after year and as a neighbor, preferably plant different summer flowers. A mixed culture with carrots or thick beans is also possible.


Those who plant the tropical bats, should ensure that the plants are well protected from wind and cold rain. For prolonged periods of drought and bucket keeping regular watering is essential.

Harvest and recovery

Harvest sweet potatoes

Batatoes should dry briefly after harvesting and be processed quickly

The sweet potato harvest begins in September. As soon as the plants turn yellow in autumn, the tubers are ready for harvest. The warmth-loving Central American does not tolerate cold - at below ten degrees the plants die off. A thick layer of mulch or a cover of straw can slow down the harvest time.The harvested tubers should be allowed to air-dry for about two more days before being eaten. Attention: Batata - unlike potatoes - are only partially suitable for storage. In a cool and dry room, excess sweet potatoes can be left for a short time. If stored too long, there is a risk that the tubers will rot.
Sweet potatoes can be prepared similar to potatoes, so they can be baked, cooked or fried. From the consistency, they are fibrous to floury and taste fine sweet because of their high sugar and starch content. Batatas are extremely valuable for their health. Because they contain a substance called Caiapo, which can lower high blood sugar and cholesterol levels. The leaves of sweet potatoes can be prepared like spinach.
Tip: Sweet potatoes are not only a tasty vegetable, some ornamental varieties also show attractive white or pink flowers in early summer. Unfortunately, they are a bit short-lived. Varieties such as 'Terrace Lime' with light green, 'Blacky' with black-green and 'Tricolor' with green-pink-white pied leaves are therefore often used as potted or balcony plants. Even as a one-year greening of pergolas and climbing frames, they cut a fine figure.

variety Tips

Sweet potato 'Erato Orange'

The sweet potato variety 'Erato Orange' has also proven itself in cultivation

Tasty to recommend, yield-proof and very suitable for growing in our latitudes is the variety 'Beauregard'. The culture duration is around 95 days. Very similar is the variety 'Orleans'. 'Bonita' has white meat and a very smooth shell. The sweet potato variety 'Murasaki' has a showy dark red to purple peel and is reminiscent of sweet chestnuts. 'Evangeline' tastes particularly sweet and is therefore mainly used for exotic desserts.


Sweet potatoes are usually propagated by shoot cuttings. The cuttings are cut from the tuber to increase, remove the bottom leaves and put them about two-thirds of their length obliquely into the ground.

Diseases and pests

Sweet potatoes are quite robust against diseases and pests. Only snails make their way over the tubers from time to time. The best way to control the plants regularly for infestation and pick the animals as soon as possible by hand.

Video Board: 6 Delicious Sweet Potato Recipes.

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