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Do Sweet Potatoes Grow Underground? (Explained)

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A bowl of steamy sweet potato stew in the winter evening or crispy sweet potato fries for quick snacking, you can’t say no to sweet potatoes in any way. Not only they are tasty also sweet potatoes are rich in nutrients.

Sweet potatoes are easy-to-grow vegetables. They can be planted in the back yard even in a container.

If you want to grow sweet potatoes on your own it’s important to know every small detail about sweet potatoes and their growth such as the duration of growth, where they can be planted, or what could harm the crop.

But before that, you might want to know whether sweet potatoes grow under the earth like regular potatoes or they are different. We will answer this query while sharing other frequently asked questions about sweet potatoes!

Do sweet potatoes grow underground?

Sweet potatoes are root vegetables. It grows under the ground in the same manner as for regular potatoes. It’s an enlarged root that plays the role of food storage for the plant and is edible. Sweet potato is actually a tuberous root thus it grows under the soil surface.

Sweet potatoes are tuberous roots. They are roots but expended and fleshy ones that store foods that mean nutrients and water for the plant.

Sweet potatoes as a root grow under the ground. But unlike regular roots, they grow much bigger and convert into a storage organ called tubers. Tubers stores nutrients and water for plants so that they can survive when the weather or season is not in favor.

Sweet potato is longer in shape with a rounded edge and unsmooth surface. It’s more like an oval shape but pointed. 

The potatoes are mostly orangish, pink, or purple and are eaten when baked, fried, steamed, or cooked. Along with the root, the leaves are edible too.

Sweet potato as the food storage of the plant contains many nutrients that are beneficial for our health. It’s high in fiber, minerals, B Vitamins, Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin C, vitamin A, Carb, Protein, etc. Consuming sweet potatoes can keep the body fit and fine.

How do sweet potatoes grow underground?

Sweet potatoes are roots so they grow under the soil surface simple like any roots but as a tuber. It’s a tuberous root.

When you plant a sweet potato plant the root of it develops under the soil gradually. At a point, the root becomes a long-oval football-shaped tuber with a narrow end.

Multiple tubers can grow from one sweet potato plant. These fleshy big tubers store food such as starch, other nutrients, and water to fulfill the plant’s need in the off-season. Using the preserved starch, the tubers develop slips for the further reproduction process.

Later, the tubers are picked up and consumed as sweet potatoes. Thus, sweet potatoes grow under the ground.

Do sweet potatoes grow on a vine?

Sweet potatoes don’t grow on their vine above the ground. Instead, they grow from their vine under the soil surface. The vine stays on the surface of the soil.

A sweet potato plant has vines that stay on the ground. They grow so much in every direction over the surface and make all the area of the ground shady with its heart-shaped leaves.

Sweet potatoes as roots are produced from the vines but under the ground and then become tubers. Around five to ten sweet potatoes can grow from a sweet potato vine.

How deep do sweet potatoes grow?

Sweet potatoes grow 18 inches deep under the soil when planted. They grow downwards the ground so even if their length is not much longer always, they are around 12-18 inches deep inside the ground.

Sweet potatoes are root vegetables. So they are meant to stay inside or under the soil. Usually, root vegetables grow 2 to 6 inches and sometimes 10-12 inches below the ground. The depth depends on the vegetable and its’ length.

But sweet potatoes as they turn into tubers take more space than other root vegetables. So it’s mostly found growing 12-18 inches deep under the ground. That’s why it’s planted 6 inches deep for good growth. 

What is eating my sweet potatoes underground?

Often you find your sweet potatoes damaged, half-eaten from underground. You may wonder who else finds your favorite veggie yummy that too deep inside the soil. Or if it’s some disease that makes your sweet potatoes look like eaten.

Well, It’s because there are pest and soil insects that love to invade your sweet underground crop. Most of the time it is Wireworms, gophers, potato tuber worms, ground squirrels that show interest in sweet potatoes.

Wireworms invade crops that are grown below the soil. They make holes in sweet potatoes and damage them. Potato tubeworms turn sweet potatoes inedible by making holes and tunnels in them. They leave black spots on potatoes also,

Gophers live underground and move through tunnels. They eat the tuber and don’t stop until they reach the vines. Ground squirrels also eat potatoes underground as well as the vines.

Can you grow sweet potatoes in a pot?

Sweet potatoes can be cultivated in pots or containers as long as you prepare the pot well.

Sweet potatoes are easy to cultivate even in pots. To grow them in pots you have to ensure a good pot or container, well-mixed soil, temperature, and proper care.

Clay pots are the best choices for growing sweet potatoes.  But no matter what you choose, pots must have holes to ensure a good drainage system to cultivate sweet potatoes.

Also monitoring the perfect temperature is another key that can provide you with fleshy, healthy potatoes.

In a pot filled with soil that’s sandy and rich in good compost, sweet potatoes grow very well. So even if you don’t have enough space in your yard, you can plant sweet potatoes in a pot following a few rules.

How to grow sweet potatoes in containers?

If you want to grow sweet potatoes on your own but don’t have enough space in your yard or garden, you don’t need to drop the plan. Because sweet potatoes can be grown on pots or containers if you follow some simple steps:

Choose the variant:

There are a few classes of sweet potatoes that are compact and easy to grow in a container. You can select from Vardaman, Vineless also known as Portio Rico variants.

Select container:

Container selection is very important to enjoy homegrown sweet potatoes. These days many shops have special containers or bags for cultivating sweet potatoes.

They are affordable as well as ideal for growing sweet potatoes. Clay pot, whiskey barrels are good picks as well.

Prep the container:

Clean the container properly. Make sure it has enough depth and includes a drainage system.

Mix soil:

Mix sandy soil, fertilizer, and a good compost very well. The soil must be moist but not wet or saggy.

Select location:

Sweet potatoes should be placed somewhere that gets sunlight and have a temperature of at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit.


Fill up four-inch of the container with soil, make a hole deep enough to plant the sweet potato slips, and again cover the slips with three or four-inch of soil gently. Keep the soil loose for their natural growth.

Water regularly:

After you have planted the slips, check them every day and water in a moderate amount.

When is the best time to plant sweet potatoes?

Sweet potatoes are very sensitive to cold and frost. So while planting them you must make sure the cold season is avoided somehow. Considering that spring is a suitable time to plant sweet potatoes.

It takes around four to five-month to harvest sweet potatoes. Keeping this duration in mind one should plant sweet potatoes after one month has passed after the last spring frost. Thus the plants will get enough time to complete their life-cycle.

How long does it take for sweet potatoes to grow?

Sweet potatoes require at least three months to grow the tuber and to have some healthy-looking sweet potatoes you’ve to wait for five months.

A sweet potato completes its life circle in around 100 to 150 days if everything is in its favor. After four or five months the sweet potatoes can be harvested and consumed.

When to harvest sweet potatoes in containers?

Sweet potatoes that are planted in containers can be harvested in around five months or 150 days. You have to wait for the tuber to grow properly so waiting at least more than 4 months is required.

But if there is a frost situation the potatoes can be harvested right after to save them from rotting due to cold.

Final Thoughts

Sweet potatoes grow under the ground because they are root vegetables. They grow inside the earth as roots and then getting bigger they become tuber. The tuber holds food for the plant and is full of nutrients. More specifically sweet potatoes are edible tuberous roots.

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