Growing store bought jicama tuber

curiouscomputerJuly 29, 2008


I picked up a jicama tuber from the local supermarket. I want to get it to sprout/root so I can grow it. Anyone know the best way to go about doing that? Also, anyone know if the tuber/caudex can be raised for display? I did a forum search, and didn't see anything about jicama.

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I had success rooting a jicama I picked up at the farmer's market. Just place it in an extremely free draining mix (I used 90% pumice, 10% organic compost) that has been moistened. Then, provide warmth and just wait. It took mine nearly three months to get established. It got tiny little green buds after only a month, but they didn't really do anything for another two months. Once I saw the tiny green buds though, I started carefully offering water.

As far as raising the tuber, I'm sure it can be done (at least partially), since the roots almost all emanate from the very bottom of the tuber. However, it will have absolutely no way to acclimate to the sun, and will be extremely prone to sunburn. When I raise mine (probably in a couple years), I plan to build a little wooden trellis around the tuber so it can shade itself with its vines.

When I get home today, I'll take a picture and post it.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 12:24PM
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I know that it's much better to not try with supermarket tubers that have been chilled.The rot factor is almost a sure thing.
I wonder if a good one could be rooted placed on top of the of the soil media? No need to later raise it. I wouldnt use potting soil for the rooting media. A perlite or gravel mix to prevent rot,hopefully.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 9:02PM
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As promised, here is a photo of my Pachyrhizus erosus (jicama). It is in a 6" plastic pot. It seems to throw bunches of small vines, that only grow a foot or two before they start to die back. I'm not sure if that it the normal habit, or if there is some problem with my culture. It is one of my more pest prone plants, attracting a variety of leaf eating insects, as well as aphids. I try to manage the aphids, but it doesn't seem to mind have its leaves eaten up. Don't forget that the leaves, vines, flowers, and seeds are all toxic!

Not my best kept plant, but still looks pretty nice.

Close up of the top of the tuber showing all the vines. Like I said, it seems to sprout lots of tender, short lived vines as compared to one long-lasting one.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 9:15PM
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well, mine was chilled at the supermarket. :( i'm going to try anyway.

i've got a few months of seattle sun/warmth left...

wish me luck!

if it doesn't work out, well, it was a fairly cheap experiment anyway, at $0.99/lb, and it weights 4.5lbs, and is almost 6.5" across!

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 11:41PM
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Jo,aren't you tempted to wash away the top 3" of soil to see if it has a Dioscorea look? because,it resembles one now!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 3:37PM
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Stan: Honestly, I tend to be more of a wait and see kind of grower, so the temptation never really struck me. But for you, I can make an exception!

Nice root development for only a few months growth. The jicama I got from the farmer's market was sort of irregular and lumpy, much more interesting than the perfectly round ones I see at the grocery store. I tossed a quarter on there for size comparison.

Not quite as good looking as a Dioscorea, but still cool. And you can't beat the price: $2! The caudex is about 3" or 4" at its widest. I thought that was a 6" pot, but it is really only 4".

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 8:07PM
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dufflebag2002(Calif. 91607)

Okay now that I see a tuber, it may start from a cut up piece, or quarter the plant. let the pieces dry out for a month sitting in shade, until you see new roots, and perhaps a bud of leaves starting, now i must tell you I haven't tried this with this species. You may also want to try starting it from vines or seeds. Yes it can be raised to show the caudex. Your picture is just great and said a thousand words to me. Thank you, I love it. Norma

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 1:48AM
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I repeat Norma's sentiment. The fact that your's isnt the usual perfect sphere makes it even more exotic..and Dioscorea like-lol.
I have to try again..that looks sharp Jo.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 4:40PM
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Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed the pictures! I'm going to start keeping an eye out at the farmer's market for bigger and better jicama now...

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 8:47PM
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It seems this plant,Pachyrhizus erosus (xerophyte will be so proud), is taken seriously in the caudiciform world:
So instead of sitting in the fridge it will sit between the Cyphostemma and Pterodiscus on the window ledge.


    Bookmark   August 22, 2008 at 1:19PM
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Ok,bought one. Now,-how do you tell which side is the "upside" on those perfect spheres?...will they sprout if just kept warm?..would hate to plant them upside down. Jeez,I really can't see any difference.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2008 at 9:00PM
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It can be really hard to tell which end is which. The vine side seems to be a little more fibrous, and sort of has faint concentric circles around the stem. The root side has little nubs where there were roots. If you really can't figure it out, just plant it sideways. After it's established, you can tell which end is which no problem!

I just left mine outside (average 70-75 F daytime high) in a shady spot.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2008 at 9:22PM
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Concentric ring it is..there were two faint beady lines.I went for it joe, and placed it ring up on pure perlite. Nothing below perlite other then the hacked root bud. Time will tell. Thanks.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2008 at 5:27PM
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My comments/questions here started on the "Unexpected caudiciforms?" thread, but I thought they might get lost there, so I'm resurrecting this thread.

I went to the local produce market yesterday and bought a jicama. It's slightly less than two pounds and about 4 1/2 inches in diameter. At 49 cents a pound it cost 89 cents (!). It's nearly "perfect" in shape. Is there a way to give it a little more character? For example, put some big rocks in a pot that's a fairly tight squeeze?

The tuber was not refrigerated when I bought it. However, I forgot it in the car last night during our coldest night of the year (I think). It was still above freezing. However, the tuber was cold and wet when I rescued it. I suppose I can afford to buy another one, and trade it for something if both decide to grow...

The thing has a ton of concentric circles, so the orientation is easy to figure out. Stanhof, did you have any success rooting one just sitting on top of perlite?

If anyone lives in a place where they don't sell jicama and would like to try at this great price, let me know. I would send it at cost plus shipping I just got a ton of free small priority mail boxes, so this would be almost no work whatsoever--just a trip to the market, simple packing using of a lot of newspaper and packing tape, and a trip to the post office. If you want to do this, please let me know if you are willing to pay a higher price, as I'm sure these things fluctuate (especially at this market). I believe shipping priority mail costs $4.80 for the first pound, $9.60 for two pounds. Above that a flat rate box is probably best. However, there didn't seem to be anything much bigger (there are certainly some much less than 1 pound) and I really don't know if it's worth the trouble. Obviously I can't guarantee that these would grow.

Oh, in case anyone is local, the market (I don't know the name)is next to Trader Joes in Los Altos (just past Cupertino) on Homestead near Foothill.

Actually, come to think of it, I might grab a few spare ones at that price (5 one pounders for only $2.50!) and try to get them started indoors. Something that fits into 4 inch pots might be ideal. Unfortunately I don't have enough light inside, but I suppose I could wait for them to barely show signs of life and then maybe trade them for something. I'll report back if I have success.

So dormant--at cost plus shipping. The price might be higher but I'll try to get some today. Starting to grow--we'll figure it out. Email me.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 5:12PM
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So if I'm calculating this correctly (I knew that Physics degree would come in useful some day...) a one pound tuber would be on the order of 3 1/2 inches in diameter, perfect for my zillions of 4 inch pots and together with a box a bit over 1 pound. And the tuber would only be 50 cents. I'm limited by space indoors, available pots and perlite supply so this would be ideal. A bunch of two pounders would be difficult.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 5:56PM
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My jicama thread from the end of summer is revived!

FYI, mine still hasn't rooted. I might have had it upside down though. I recently flipped it, and will give it the rest of winter and spring to see what happens. I flipped it last time because this side was getting a little moldy. I cleaned it and flipped it. No luck on the other side so I am flipping back to the moldy side, and will try it again. I had wiped all the mold off, so we shall see.

Do you all think injury may provoke a response? If/when it gets established, I was planning to injure it anyway to give the shape more character.

BTW, hey "mark"! My Coccinia quinqueloba's seem to be doing well. Still growing, but I am trying to eradicate pesky baby slugs that have snuck indoors with my plants, and find the Coccinia the tastiest thing around.

Aristolochia have not rooted yet, but still alive :)

Got 1 cucumis seed to germinate, zero aloes :(

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 7:33PM
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I went out to the produce store and bought 5 pounds of jicama--6 tubers, ranging from 3 1/4 to 4 inches in diameter. It cost me $2.50, so no big deal if none grow. A couple months ago I bought shallots from Trader Joe's and the huge Asian supermarket (99 Ranch). Only those from Trader Joe's grew. Perhaps those from the Asian market were treated with something that inhibits growth? Hopefully they haven't done anything to the jicamas.

I checked them with 4 inch pots--only three actually fit and those were tight squeezes. Touching plastic is probably a situation to avoid, given the possiblity of rot. I have other containers--no drainage, but that shouldn't be a problem initially if the medium is being kept barely moist.

Also at the store I spotted a different tuber. These were unlabeled but I recognized them as yams of some sort. The one I really liked was shaped like a bottle gourd, but a little stretched out. It's about 6 inches long with the two swollen regions about 2 1/4 and 1 inch wide. The "waist" is only about 1/2 an inch.

I asked what it was and was told it was a special yam. I was directed to another guy who told me it is a Chinese yam. The yam that is generally called this is Dioscorea batatas. It forms a huge elongated tuber that can extend for a couple feet if I remember. It also gets tubers in the leaf axils. It's on Bihrmann's caudiciform list, so it might be worth growing. The aerial tubers alone make it sound like fun. That guy was 49 cents a pound (labeled as sweet potatoes--a mistake??). The price was 22 cents. Maybe I should pick up a few more of those just in case. The key to identifying it will be that the leaves should be paired--a synonym is D. opposita (or D. oppositifolia).

"curious"--let me know if you check the roots on that Coccinia. The one I have that's still here and is most similar to that one went through a LOT of tuber growth at some point. That's strange that the slugs have been getting it. Here it's the snails and slugs that attack everything. I think they've left the Coccinias completely alone--and they've had many opportunities. "Baby slugs"? That's right--a baby slug up there is only 3 inches long.

I don't know if you want to hear this, but a woman I sent those cuttings to wrote back in 11 days to say that she had just potted up rooted cuttingss. Her secret? Either a magic touch, or more likely bottom heat.

Likewise, I suspect the problem with the Aloes is partly one of low temps. I think they like it warm. The first time I tried I got 6/10 I think. 3 have since died (damping off?). The ones left are just putting out their first leaf. My second set of 10 only gave 2 seedlings, one of which quickly died. I suspect temps were too low, but I'm also going to try a fungicide just in case. I'll set up 3 or 4 with bottom heat plus fungicide and let you know. I think we should be getting close to 100% germination. I'm down to about 18 seeds, but they're supposed to be sown in the fall and I suppose there's no reason not to use them up this year. My problem at this point is space.

I also lost about half of my Cucumis seedlings to damping off, so I invested in a fungicide and this may have helped save the remaining ones. Of course these guys are out of season, so I'm going to plant again in Spring. I should have plenty of seeds. I found out that this is almost certainly Cucumis carolinus. A guy I corresponded with grew the plant in Maine (!) so it doesn't need a long hot summer to grow. He showed me a picture--it looks identical to C. carolinus, and not exactly ike J.L. Hudson's photo.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2008 at 12:59AM
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That is pretty generous of you to offer your time to help others get there very own jicama. It will be interesting to see if you have any takers. When this thread first appeared, I was inspired to go out and buy another. I just stuck that one in a pot with some dry pumice and put it on my shaded bench outside. It just started to grow a new vine about a week ago. I'll check for roots this evening. Oddly, it started growing a vine pretty much the same time my other one lost its vine. I might lose the first one to rot now, since I left it outside for the duration of this recent cold rain we had. We'll see, maybe it will put out another vine with the extra water. It seems like while in growth, it wants quite a bit of water, so I may have forced it into dormancy by keeping it too dry.

I think the key is to get the freshest possible jicama. The ones from my farmer's market were in the ground less than a week before I bought them and were never refrigerated, which I suspect is important. The last one I bought already had the tiny green nubs of a new vine when I bought it. Like I said, they didn't do anything for a few months, but you could at least see it was getting ready to grow. I don't know that damaging it would trigger new growth. You could always try and buy another if it doesn't work...

FWIW, there are no true yams (Dioscorea) in standard American grocery stores. Everything sold as yams or garnet yams are really just sweet potatoes (Ipomoea). Now, in the specialty Asian stores, that may be different, and you very well could find a true yam.

Mark, good to see a fellow physics dork growing fat plants! What field are you in?

    Bookmark   December 18, 2008 at 11:29AM
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Mine rooted fast.That was in September?..Now,in mid December it hasn't shown a spec of top growth. Is it waiting for spring? longer days? or has it been treat with a no growth hormone?.Maybe it was chilled,but I wouldnt think it would have rooted so fast if damaged. It's been indoors and kept warm to very warm.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2008 at 1:48PM
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The baby slugs were about .4" long by .2" wide. I must have killed 3 dozen of them. a week or two later, the survivors were about the size of my pinky finger's first segment. a few i couldn't find because lifting up 100 or so pots to check the bottoms is time consuming. I killed about 7 last week that were all hiding under a few of the back pots. those slugs were up to 1.5" long. I have only seen a few slug trails since then...

    Bookmark   December 18, 2008 at 4:15PM
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It will indeed be interesting to see if anyone wants one. I would think that some people have found this thread (especially your pictures)interesting. I don't know if jicama is hard to find in areas without large Latino or Asian populations, but regardless if I show they're viable then that might change things. $2.50 in jicamas is not exactly a large amount of money either.

The tuber in question was bought at a relatively large produce store that I'm pretty sure has a better selection (and lower prices)than our farmer's market. It's in an area that is more than half Asian, with Chinese being the largest ethnic group. One of the fruits had the end cut off--it had white or colorless flesh (like a regular potato). I suspect it is indeed a Dioscorea, I'll find out for sure when/if it grows leaves--if they come in pairs I think that would nail the identification. In the meantime, at 22 cents a tuber (assuming they didn't screw up) I'll buy a few more.

I'm not doing physics anymore, like many (most?) people with physics degrees. Beyond that,I try to maintain anonymity online, apparently not too successfully at the moment...(a different thread).

curiouscomputer--how big do the biggest slugs get up there? I lived there for a few years and remember some huge ones. Maybe that's just because they're proportionately bigger relative to a kid.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2008 at 5:31PM
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Biggest slug I've seen in my yard was only about 3" long...

    Bookmark   December 18, 2008 at 9:44PM
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Now I'm confused. I went back to the produce market and picked up a few of the "Chinese yams". I also picked up a sweet potato that looked somewhat similar on the surface. I got home and cut off the end of each. The one described as a sweet potato was very white, with a bit of a yellow tint to it. The Chinese yam was intensely purple inside. However...with time the purple color faded to light brown, close to the color of the skin, with just a hint of purple present. It's still fading.

So I looked it up. It turns out that if it is a yam it is Dioscorea alata. This is also sometimes called "Chinese yam" There is also a purple sweet potato. Moreover, it looks like people confuse the names betwee what they call a sweet potato and a yam. If anyone out there knows how to distinguish the two in the absence of leaves and a stem, please speak up.

Oh, the price of the "Chinese yam" was a lot higher than the sweet potato the checker confused it for yesterday. $1.99 vs. $0.49 per pound. If I get a chance, I'll try to get pictures of the cut and uncut yams/sweet potato and see if anyone can figure this out.

Curiouscomputer--you've never seen a banana slug? They can get up to 10 inches long and 1/4 pound! They were all over where I lived briefly as a kid.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2008 at 2:07AM
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peonyman(Zone 5, Lawrence, Ks)

I have never seen jicama in a grocery store until last week. The local store had a bin full. They were not in the refrigerated section rather they were on a center isle with potatoes, but they may have been cooled during shipment. I plan to drop by tomorrow to see if they still have them. If so I will experiment to see if I can get one to grow.


    Bookmark   December 26, 2008 at 1:54AM
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An update on the Jicamas that I bought: The ones from the produce store in Los Altos have shown no signs of life whatsoever, and no deterioration either.

I found a really cool one at the produce market at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto. A very unusual shape, as opposed to the "perfect" Los Altos ones. To put it simply, it had 4 lobes, with the "cleavage" running parallel to the vertical axis (no doubt there's a better way to put this!). Unfortunately that guy rotted very quickly.

About the same time I found out that it is Amorphophallus konjac (Suran) season in the Indian grocery stores (which we have a ton of). Not a caudiciform or succulent, but I'm guessing a lot of people on this forum find this plant interesting. Unfortunately the biggest two had spots of rot on them, and I was unable to excise it completely. So the biggest ones are gone. I have a couple smaller ones 2.5" to 4" which might make it--we'll see. My biggest concern (besides possible rot) is that because the petiole was sliced straight through before it had dried naturally, it's still stuck in the depression containing the growth bud. Hopefully the tuber will find a way around this (they have dormant buds all over the surface).

So lots of tubers, no growth yet. One concern of mine is that perhaps some of these have been treated in some way that they will not emerge from dormancy. A couple months ago I planted shallots from Trader Joe's and got nice plants, whereas those from 99 Ranch did nothing--I recently dug them up planting something else.

Sorry to use names that most people are not familiar with. I just want let locals know where they might find things and to make the point that similar tubers at different stores may differ in viability.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2009 at 5:07PM
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I've come late to the party, but thought I'd post anyway...

I bought a jicama from the store which sprouted two vines off the top when I left it too long. I decided to try to plant it just to see what would happen. Although I cannot yet report back on any progress because it's only just happened, I thought I would pass along some information I got from a very nice man who grew up in the countryside in Mexico where people commonly grow jicama plants. My largely forgotten high school Spanish didn't permit me to understand everything he said, but here's the gist of it:

He said I should cut the jicama in half and only plant the top of the tuber with the vines coming off of it - in other words use only the tuber's "northern hemisphere".

You want loose soil that will allow the tubers to form easily.

The vines should not be trellised unless you want an ornamental vine and no jicamas. If you actually want to harvest some tubers you need to bury the vine in the ground. Examine the vines and you'll see that every so often there are buds which you should leave uncovered. The plain stems between those buds should be covered with earth and they will sprout roots and tubers. Note: these should not be regarded as separate plants. Everything should be left connected together.

Those buds will sprout leaves to feed the plant, and you just keep burying the new vining parts as they appear. It sounded like this would take up a fair amount of ground space.

He was also saying something about circles and digging trenches to water the plants, but try as I might I couldn't quite make sense of it. He might have meant planting the jicama in a mound of earth and training the vines out from the center in circles... or something.

Best of luck to all of us in our jicama endeavors!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 2:46PM
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One more note - in those wonderful photos joscience posted July 29 & 30, 2008 you can clearly see on the left one of the vines with the buds growing at intervals. That's the part to stick in the ground.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 2:52PM
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Hey, Sawadee! I was actually going to bring this post back to life the other day. You beat me to it. Thanks!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 7:59PM
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5 years already???!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 3:37PM
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