Botanical Names: Ipomoea batatas
Once you have confirmed that you have the right growing conditions for sweet potatoes the next big step is determining which variety or cultivar you are going to plant in your garden or containers. There are hundreds of different sweet potato varieties to choose from; those that have orange flesh to others that have white or purple flesh. There are endless opportunities, but we have consulted with the sweet potato experts for recommendations when it comes to growing orange sweet potatoes and here are the varieties that they selected for home gardeners it differentsituations.
Beauregard – One of the world’s most popular sweet potato varieties as it has a high yield during harvest and also great disease tolerance. It was bred at the Louisiana State University in 1987 to help with the failing sweet potato market. This variety would need to be grown in a large garden plot as the vines can reach 3 to 6 feet in length. Most typically grown in southern states.
Georgia Jet – Best variety for those living in Northern climates as this variety will mature in 90 days under cooler temperatures with a heavy production. Again a variety that will need ample space to grow as it will reach 40 inches in spread. Many find the taste to be flavorful and moist with a deep orange flesh and red skin.
Heartogold or Heart of Gold – Heirloom variety that is prized for its sweet flavor, but difficult to find a source for slips. If found, make sure to snag them right away and reserve potatoes from each harvest to grow slips for the coming season. The size of the spuds are quite large, however,the yield isn’t very high.
Bunch Porto Rico – Variety that is a favorite of gardeners with limited space or prefer to grow their sweets in containers. Also referred to as ‘Bush’ or ‘Vineless’ this cultivar will mature in 90 to 110 days after planting. Those that have tasted it describe it as an old-fashion, delicious flavor saying it is ideal for baking. Copper skin with light salmon colored flesh.
Jewel – For the gardener who doesn’t care about looks, but is searching for taste. ‘Jewel’ is considered the “Queen of Sweet Potatoes” as it is the leading spud planted in North Carolina for commercial growers. The tubers are short and chunky compared to other varieties, but it is plentiful in yield having 6 sweets resulting from one plant. It is particular about its planting media and prefers soil while others can tolerate poor soil. The harvest date is 120 to 135 days from planting, but many claim it is worth the wait. Whatever variety you decide upon, it is always fun to try something new in the garden each year and select cultivars that you can’t get at your local grocery store or farmer’s market to share a new flavor with your family and friends.