The Top 10 Varieties of Sweet Potatoes to Grow in Your Garden
There are hundreds of varieties of sweet potatoes grown around the world; we've narrowed the list down to the top performers for your backyard.
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Botanical Name: Ipomoea batatas
There are over 400 different varieties of sweet potatoes and all are not created equal. Like apples, it all depends on personal taste. One of the many benefits of growing your own food is that you are able to try different varieties that you cannot obtain from the grocery store or farmers' market.
However, it is important to keep certain factors in mind when deciding which variety of sweet potato to grow in your garden. Do you have limited space or are you only able to grow in a container? Then selecting a bush variety would be better than a vining one. Are you located in a northern climate? Most sweet potatoes prefer hot climates with long days and warm daytime as well as nighttime temperatures; that's why they're commercially grown in the southern half of the US and other warmer climates. But there is a variety that is bred just for northern growers. When growing sweets, the right growing conditions are necessary to have a successful yield of tubers. Here are some of the top growing varieties of sweet potatoes.
This is one of the world's most popular sweet potato varieties because it has a high yield during harvest and it's highly disease tolerant. The 'Beaureguard' was initially bred at the Louisiana State University in 1987 to help with the failing sweet potato market. Today, it is commonly grown in Southern US. If you want to grow 'Beaurguards' you'll need a large garden plot as the vines can reach 3' to 6' in length.
This is the best variety for those living in northern regions because it will mature in 90 days under cooler temperatures. This variety needs ample space to grow because the vines can reach 40" long. Many find the taste to be flavorful and moist with a deep orange flesh and red skin.
For the gardener who doesn't care about looks, but is searching for taste, "Jewel" is considered the "Queen of Sweet Potatoes" and 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 six sweets resulting from just one plant. The harvest date is 120 to 135 days from planting and most folks claim they're worth the long wait.
'Garnet' sweet potatoes feature dark orange-red skin with bright purple flesh. They are moister than 'Jewels' or 'Beauregards' which makes them perfect for baking. They retain their lovely reddish hue even after baking.
Heartogold or Heart of Gold
This heirloom variety 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 is quite large, but unfortunately, the yield can be low.
Bunch Porto Rico
This variety is a favorite of gardeners with limited space or those that 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. It has copper skin with a light salmon-colored flesh. Those that have tasted it describe it as an old-fashion, delicious flavor saying it is ideal for baking.
This variety has gorgeous, rich purple skin and flesh that maintains its color even after cooking. It's great in many of the same recipes that you'd use orange sweet potatoes — like pies, fries or chips — it's just that the vibrant purple color makes it more fun.
Originally from Okinawa, Japan, these sweet potatoes are beige on the outside and lavender-purple on the inside and turn a blue-ish purple when cooked. They have a delicate, slightly sweet taste and a creamy texture that is on the starchy side. Growing 'Okinawan' sweet potatoes in US climates can be done, but the variety was specifically bred for the weather that is consistent with the islands such as Okinawa and Hawaii. It is noted by professional sweet potato growers that it doesn't prefer the conditions of the mainland. It prefers to be watered multiple times per day and likes rich, nutritious soil and sunny, warm conditions.
These sweet potatoes feature a distinctive purple-ish skin with creamy white flesh that turns yellow after cooking. They have a sweet and rich flavor and can be used in both savory and sweet dishes. 'Japanese' sweet potato flesh tends to be much drier than the orange-fleshed sweet potato.
Must Try: Baked Sweet Potato Sliders
This sweet potato is also known as the 'Yellow Hannah' or 'Sweet Hannah.' It has an off-white, tan/creamy skin with yellowish tender flesh. It's oblong with a semi-smooth skin. Hannah sweet potatoes grow in warm temperate climates and are similar in texture to a traditional white potato.
Must Try: Sweet Potato Hummus