I’m sure you’ve seen purple yams at the grocery store, but have you ever wondered how to grow them?
Purple yams are a food that is traditionally grown in Africa and Asia. They can be difficult to find in North America- with some exceptions depending on where you live.
The good news is that it’s not too hard to grow your own. Keep reading for tips on how to successfully cultivate these beautiful vegetables.
An easy way to grow purple yams is to suspend the root end of the tuber in water and place in a sunny spot. It will develop roots and small vines and, when these are two to three in number, plant the tuber in a pot containing good draining potting soil. Keep it well watered and allow to grow.
Is purple yam easy to grow?
It is not the easiest plant to grow but that does not mean that you shouldn’t try.
They need a long growing season, typically around 120 to 140 days, and, for most of this the weather will need to be consistently hot.
If you live in an area where the weather conditions are not ideal then you could try growing your yams in a greenhouse or in deep pots that can be moved around to ensure warm conditions are maintained.
Where can I get purple yams from to grow?
It is difficult to find purple yams that are specifically for growing, and I’ve spent a long time trying to find plant suppliers that offer these.
The only sources that I’ve identified are Asian grocery store where you can buy the tubers ( they are intended for cooking ) but you can plant them and they should grow.
Other options are some suppliers on Amazon. Again the tubers are mainly intended for cooking but there’s no real reason why they should not grow if planted.
Can purple yams be grown from seeds?
Yes but the seed is rare and difficult to obtain. Yams are normally only cultivated from tubers of existing vines.
What is the best month to plant yam?
The best time to plant yams outdoors is between February and March.
The tubers should be planted in well drained, friable soil that has been raked into ridges so that the yams have plenty of depth for growing.
Can purple yams survive winter?
During the cold months the yams will simply become dormant and there’s very little that you will need to do to care for them.
If you are growing your yams in containers then just make sure that the pot does not freeze as this will likely kill the yams in the soil.
Harvesting purple yams
When the vines die back, towards the end of the summer and onset of colder weather, this is the time to dig up your tubers.
Like many perennial plants, it is always best to try and leave yams alone during the first year and to avoid harvesting them.
This may seem frustrating but you will enjoy a larger harvest and a healthier, more productive plant if you wait until year two before harvesting.
Final words on growing purple yams
Planting purple yams can be a rewarding experience. The tubers are unusual and exotic looking, but they also taste good.
Give them a try the next time you see some in your local vegetable store.