Sweet Potato Winter Southern California

FarmingtonJanuary 18, 2014

I planted Sweet Potato last August 2013 and they grew very good,healthy leaves and crwled about 10x10 feet. Come Winter here in LA the leaves turned yellow and some leaves died. It' s now winter here in Los Angeles. ;QUESTIONS:1) Are the leaves just hibernating and come Spring time the root and vines will sprout new leaves? 2) Shall I pull them out cause thety are dead? 3) What shall I do with them?

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soaht(Central CA 9B)

Sweet potato don't usually hibernate/go dormant. If they have been hit by frost, they are most likely dead. I would dig up the sweet potato tuber, that is still in good shape and store for spring growing. Even, if they didn't get hit by frost, leaving the tubers in ground, you're risking them getting eaten by worms, mice/rats, bugs etc, rotting or spoiled under ground.

Wait, are these the regular sweet potato from the store or are they the Asian kind, only use for eating the leaves and no tuber will form?

Either way, I would dig up any still in good shape tubers, and store for spring planting. If, it's the Asian kind, which no tubers form and only the young vines/leaves are used for eating. Then if the leaves are only yellow, I would save a bunch of vine cuttings for future growing. Since, that seems like the only way to propagate the Asian kind.

If you do dig them up and not get all the tubers, the remaining tubers in the ground, that hasn't been eaten by critters, by the time spring rolls around. Will sprout back new growth in the spring time.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 2:28PM
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Thank you soaht. the sweet potato are the Asian kind only for leaves eating. Filipinos love it. That's their local spinach.Anyhow shall I just leave it alone and wait sping time for new sprouts on their vines or pull it out and replant new ones and just prepare my soil for this spring. Please let me know. Thanks for anybody feedback.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 1:00AM
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soaht(Central CA 9B)

Do you guys have frost? If, yes, and they have been hit, they most likely are dead already(very frost tender tropical vines), though a few vines many still be alive.

My parents grows them too, for their farmer's market in the bay area. There's a lot of Filipino over there, along with Viets and various other smaller Asian population. We call them camote/kamote, or that's what the customers at least referrers to them anyway. They also love bitter melon leaves/vines(ampalaya?), kong kang/ung choy/water spinach, and celloyute?/ jew's mellow.

Anyway, if no frost in your part of of L A county, just cover them over head with a tarp/ plastic sheet of sort. Then if they didn't die off and the leafless vines are still green, they will most likely re sprout new growth.

It really depends on, if the vines are still green/alive or brown and dead. If, you're not sure take a several green cuttings, stick them in a pot, put it inside and by spring time, they most likely have rooted out and ready to be transplanted in ground. Then dig out the rest of the vines and prepare the ground for spring planting. They are really fast growers, by summer, they should have cover an area of about the same or even bigger.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 3:12AM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

When I lived in San Diego, I planted kamote on the edge of a canyon, just outside my fence. It became perennial, and grew there until I moved. Occasionally we got a frost, which killed the leaves, but the crowns usually survived. New vines would sprout from the tubers when the days got warmer. For all I know, it may still be there... but if not watered, the plants probably died eventually. Hard to say, they are pretty tough once established.

About those tubers. The strain I grew from cuttings produced long, twisted, white tubers, which had a very dry texture when cooked. The trouble was, those tubers might be 2-3 feet away from the plant in any direction, and up to 12" deep. Almost none of them formed directly beneath the plant, which might give one the impression that kamote does not form tubers.

I found a few tubers by following the thick feeder roots that led to them, but it was a laborious task... basically digging a trench to each tuber. The tubers were buried much deeper than I had tilled, into rocks & hard clay, and were hard to extract without breakage... so I gave up trying to find them.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 9:03PM
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Thank you everybody.I did not pull all of them cause some vines are yello green and the crown seems intact. Now march springtime and the sprouted new spring leaves all ove. Showered them with compost and soil booster Wellgreen on top and they,re happy camper now growing vigorously. Proving that they can survive winter in Southern California.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 4:38PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Kamote should over-winter anywhere the soil does not freeze. In borderline areas, it may be necessary to mulch the crowns.

It's worth mentioning that anywhere you can over-winter sweet potatoes, you can also over-winter chayote squash - and that is a really fun & rewarding perennial to grow (if you have the space for it to climb).

    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 11:54PM
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Here's a follow up on this original article.For everyone's information I purposely left it there on the garden and WALAH! This April springtime I put compost on top of them and they!re like millions of ants sprouting all over. They just slept over winter time here in LA. Moral lesson.Leave them alone in Southern CA. Or cover them winter time when it freezes.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 5:17PM
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soaht(Central CA 9B)

Ditto, congrats, you'll be harvesting in no time at all :)

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 5:48PM
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