How to plant yacon

Smallanthus sonchifolius

Yacon, also known as potato-yacon, is a plant whose tuberous roots are usually eaten raw or in the form of juice. The tuberous roots of yacon are rich in inulin (fructose polysaccharides), which gives them a sweet taste. The leaves and tips of the branches can be eaten cooked. It is also a plant used for medicinal purposes, especially because its leaves have anti-hyperglycemic properties.


The ideal are regions that have temperatures between 10 ° C and 26 ° C throughout the year. Frosts can kill the aerial part of the plant, but it will regrow later. This plant produces better at high altitude, although it can also be grown at sea level, and can also adapt to different climatic conditions.


It can be grown both in direct sunlight and in partial shade, as long as there is good light.


The ideal is to cultivate in well-drained, deep soil, without stones and other debris, fertile and rich in organic matter. Although it can tolerate more acidic soils, the ideal soil pH is in the range of 6 to 7.5.


Irrigate in order to keep the soil always moist, without being soaked. The lack of water is harmful, especially if the temperature is above 26 ° C.


The planting of the yacon is usually made from pieces of the rhizome, which are removed and cut when the tuberous roots are harvested. Ideally, rhizome pieces should have at least four buds or buds each. Plant each piece of rhizome no more than 5 cm deep.

Another method of propagation is cutting. For this, healthy plants that are not in bloom should be selected. The branches used should not be too woody, and should be cut into 15 to 20 cm pieces, leaving at least two knots in each piece. The leaves can be removed and the pieces of branches can be planted in a bed of soft earth or sand, which must be kept well moist until rooting. The pieces of branches should be in an upright or slightly oblique (inclined) position, so that half of the knots present in the branch piece are buried in the soil. It takes approximately 45 days for the seedlings to be well rooted, when they can then be transplanted.

Pieces of branches with 4 or 5 cm and only one knot can also be used in propagation, but in this case the pieces must be left in a horizontal position, buried at a depth of about 1 cm.

Although less common, planting can also be done by seeds. These can be sown in the final location or in seedlings and other containers, and the seedlings transplanted when they are large enough to be handled.

The recommended spacing is 90 cm to 100 cm between the planting lines, with 60 cm to 70 cm between the plants.


Remove invasive plants that are competing for nutrients and resources.


Yacon tuberous roots are harvested 6 to 12 months after planting, depending on growing conditions. The entire plant can be removed or you can dig around and remove only the necessary roots, as this plant is perennial. Although harvesting is usually done when the shoot is completely dry, so that the rhizomes used for propagation are well developed, it can be done before that, or at any time on older plants.

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