How to Propagate Yams

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"Yam” refers to different herbaceous plants that reproduce through tubers and belong to the Dioscoreaceae family. They produce an aerial stem that wraps itself around a stake as the plant develops. The tuber underground is edible, and like flower bulbs, it keeps stores of nutrients to support the plant’s leaf, flower and seed production. Depending on the species, yam leaves are smooth or hairy and its aerial stem has thorns or not. To propagate yams, get the tuber out of the ground when the plant's leaves and stems yellow and dry.

Things You'll Need

  • Ripe tuber
  • Kitchen scale
  • Kitchen knife (optional)
  • Pick axe
  • Shovel
  • Organic soil amendment
  • Rake
  • Garden fork
  • Water
  • Grass clippings (optional)
  • Stake
  • Select a healthy, ripe yam tuber to propagate. Use a whole one if it weighs between 9 and 14 ounces. If it’s heavier, take a root cutting that falls within this weight range. Cut from the top section of the yam where you find the most buds.

  • Till the soil in a sunny spot to a depth of 8 to 16 inches. Use a pick axe or a rental rototiller. Remove all weeds, roots and rocks from the site.

  • Spread a 4-inch layer of compost or manure over the tilled soil and blend it in. Rake the ground to a smooth surface when you finish.

  • Make a foot-tall mound of topsoil. Dig a 2- to 4-inch-deep hole—depending on the size of your tuber—in the mound.

  • Place the yam tuber in the hole and back fill it with topsoil.

  • Water the soil deeply. Keep it moist through the growing season.

  • Cover the planting area with grass clippings or wood chips if your garden is in a region of extreme summer temperatures. This insulates the tuber and conserves moisture.

  • Insert a stake through the mound and into the ground surface for the plant’s aerial stem to climb. Place the stake at the outer edge of the mound.

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References

  • Photo Credit potato image by Stephen Orsillo from Fotolia.com
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