Sweet potato is an easy to grow, highly nutritious superfood. It is composed of tons of vitamins, fibres, and nutrients. Sweet potato vines are generally known to be drought-tolerant, but they are known to grow better with regular watering.
Before digging into the watering details, let’s get some points cleared.
- Once the sweet potato plant is established well, it can tolerate dry soil.
- Young sweet potato plants are to be taken care of; they can’t be overwatered or underwatered.
- In the initial stages, the sweet potato plant requires a lot of water; you have to be ready to serve the plant with tons of water.
- Always ensure that your sweet potato plants are moist but not saturated.
- The wrong amount of water can misshape your sweet potatoes.
Before growing, you must know its water, sunlight and soil requirements. As this article is about water, here you’ll know how often to water sweet potatoes?
For the sweet potato plant to grow well, one inch of water once a week is sufficient. But gradually, with time, you need to reduce the quantity of water. You need to follow a process, and watering patterns are extremely important for growing the best sweet potatoes.
Watering Sweet Potatoes
When watering sweet potatoes, it is extremely important to keep in mind that you need to be very careful in the initial stages. Once the plant reaches a conventional stage, they develop tolerance to drought conditions.
The sweet potato plant is considered hardy, but for a better quality of sweet potatoes, it is suggested to keep the soil moist. Sweet potatoes are less likely to withstand waterlogged soil. You need to avoid overwatering strictly, and it will quickly lead to rot. And I’m sure you would never want that.
Sweet potatoes favour well-drained soil. The suitable soil for sweet potatoes needs to be rich in organic matter and should be loose. Sandier souls can be a perfect choice if you enrich it with good quality organic matter. Dense and clay soil do not provide the perfect condition for the plant to grow.
Before planting, use a fork to loosen up the soil and enrich the soil with some organic matter.
To ensure that the soil is in a perfect state, check the pH. The ideal pH of the soil needs to be between the range of 5.5 to 6.5. You can do the soil test with pH kits. You can buy one from any store or garden centre for your garden. A bit of a scientific approach will help you grow the best sweet potatoes. (Source)
Sweet potatoes grow best in warm climates. Sweet potato plants are intolerant to frost. They are to be planted in a spot that receives 6 to 8 hours of sunlight. And don’t forget to protect your plant from strong winds.
Check this out: How much hours of sunlight do potato plant needs?
For sweet potato plants to grow well, the watering schedule is extremely important. As mentioned above, the plant is hardy and needs to be kept moist. If the plant is overwatered, it can cause rot.
If you overwater your sweet potato plant, the tuber formation can be irregular. Overwatering also promotes rot which intensifies the risk for disease. It causes fungal infections to the plant, like fusarium wilt.
Fungal problems, rot, and extremely moist soil are the signs which show that your sweet potato plant has been victimized by overwatering.
How to fix?
When you have identified that your sweet potato plant has become the prey of overwatering, the first line of protection is to stop watering. If needed, ensure that you shift your plant.
You have to repot your plant into a new container containing adequately drained soil. Allow the plant to grow in the new conditions and observe for a week.
If you think you can still save your plant in the same soil as it does not show fungal problems, you shift the plant to full Sun. Sunlight will help in naturally drying out the excess water from the soil. Once the topmost layer of the soil is dried completely, check for moisture in the soil.
After this prevention and control procedure, in very rare cases, the plant may die due to rot. So after you did your part to combat overwatering, wait for the results.
Also Read: How to Avoid Overwatering Basil Plants?
The sweet potato indeed has the potential to grow in drought conditions, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t water it all or leave it unattended. Sweet potato grows well in moist conditions; regular and calculated watering of the plant is extremely important to evolve better.
Underwatering the plant will cause the plant to dry out completely. This would result in prohibiting the canopy and the formation of the tuber. Underwatering also results in irregular tubers with numerous imperfections.
Dry soil and wilting leaves are signs that your sweet potato plant is having a hard time underwatering.
How to fix?
Water your sweet potato plant by increasing the amount of water. Don’t stress the plant by flooding it but gradually pour water until the water starts dripping from the drainage holes.
In summers, it is important to look after the watering frequency. The climatic conditions will define the watering patterns you need to be critical about. It is majorly about the balance between the climatic conditions and watering patterns.
With the help of any tool, check for the moisture content of the soil. If the soil is perfectly moist, do not overwater the soil. As mentioned above, overwatering can result in rot.
How frequently should you water vegetable plants?
It is very critical to know how often you should water vegetable plants, as you do not want to overwater or underwater your vegetable plants.
The basic guideline for watering the vegetable garden is to provide the plants with an inch of water every week, too, once a week only. A rain gauge or a container can help you check the amount of water you deliver. When the container is filled with an inch of water, your job is done.
Let’s look at the five secrets of watering vegetable plants.
- Always know the signs of overwatering. Over hydrated roots turn the leaves yellow, and if you water them more, you invite more trouble. Unfortunately, people are often misled that yellow leaves need more water. But this is a big no!
- Very few people know that overwatering causes more damage than underwatering.
- For vegetable plants to grow well, the correct amount of water is extremely important. So what is the right amount? In moderate temperature conditions, 1 inch of water is adequate. In extremely dry conditions, water them daily.
- Always follow one very important technique when you water vegetable plants – water slow and low.
- Make it a point to avoid watering your plants during the middle of the day. Always go in the early evening or morning.
Growing Tips: Planting Sweet Potato in Container
Do you love sweet potatoes, but your garden is too small? Let me tell you it doesn’t matter, and you can go with a container too.
You can either buy slips of sweet potato or propagate them from tubers. You can sprout the sweet potatoes by inserting three toothpicks around the circumference and placing them in a jar of water.
You should ensure that the bottom half is immersed in water. Don’t forget to change the water in 2 to 3 days. Sprouts will appear in 4-5 weeks.
When sprouts grow, separate them into slips and store them in a bowl of water till roots grow.
When roots are an inch long, it’s time to place them in a container with potting soil (well-drained with organic matter) and good drainage. Plastic containers can work but ensure your container has good drainage holes. However, I prefer clay pots over plastic ones.
When the slips start developing vigorously, transfer them into a bigger container. Ensure that the sweet potatoes get plenty of space to expand.
And the point that I have been stressing for a long time now, DONT OVERWATER.
Moist soil is our soul goal. Also, watering your sweet potato plant will depend upon how much rainfall your plant is receiving if you have kept your container outside. Watering plants once a week will work for sweet potatoes in the absence of rainfall.
Keep a check on the soil by finger dip test. If the soil is moist, don’t water the plant.
As far as light requirements are concerned, sunny spots are suitable for your sweet potatoes. Keep in mind that sweet potatoes cannot tolerate freezing temperatures; they are warmth-loving. So if keeping them outdoors, make sure you get them back inside when the temperature starts dropping to freezing levels.
That’s all you need to follow and take care of your sweet potato plant. It generally takes 150 days to begin with harvesting.
I hope all your doubts about watering sweet potato plants are cleared now. Sweet potato is a great vegetable filled with loads of nutrients, and you can enjoy it’s amazing flavor in various recipes.
What are you waiting for? Grow sweet potatoes in your home gardens and enjoy them with your loved ones.