Growing Jicama

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harvested jicama

Jicama is a root vegetable, traditionally grown in Mexico and Central America where it is native. Enjoy jicama (pronounced HEE kah mah or hee KAH mah) raw or cooked. It adds delicate sweetness and crunch to salads and stir-fries, but not many calories, making it a darling of health conscious gardeners and cooks.

Produced on a vigorous vine growing up to 15 feet long, jicama (Pachyrhizus erosus) needs a trellis, but it can do dual duty to shade an arbor, porch, greenhouse, or shed through a long, hot summer. It requires a long growing season to produce the tasty underground tubers that are dug in fall.

Note: While we do not currently carry this variety, we offer this information for gardeners who wish to grow it.

Soil, Planting, and Care

To give the jicama plant what it needs, choose a location in full sun where there is support for the growing vine. Start by setting transplants as soon as the weather and soil have warmed.

Space plants 12 inches apart. You will probably get 4 to 5 roots per plant, so use that as a guide to determine how much to plant, based on the size of your family and their appetite for jicama.

Jicama grows best in moist, but well-drained soil. The vigorous grower needs good nutrition, particularly potassium for the edible roots. Bonnie Herb & Vegetable Plant Food is ideal to give the plant what it needs in a nature-friendly way.

Because the above-ground portions of the plant, including leaves, flowers, and seeds, are poisonous, pests do not eat the vine. Little pest control is needed.

You can also grow jicama in a large container if you do not have room in the garden or wish to take advantage of the vine as an ornamental plant.

Troubleshooting

Be careful not to eat flowers, seeds, or leaves, as they are poisonous. Few insect pests bother the vine.

Harvest and Storage

Dig the underground tubers as late as possible before frost nips the vine, preferably 150 days or more from the time you transplanted. That will give the roots time to grow large enough to dig and eat. If you see the vine beginning to die down, go ahead and dig.

Use care not to injure the root while digging. You will find them 3 to 6 inches in diameter. Let the soil dry and dust them off with a soft brush. Wash them when you are ready to eat.

Storage can be tricky. Jicama does not tolerate temperatures below 50 degrees without damage. That means that some refrigerators will damage the roots. The ideal is 53 to 60 degrees, often the temperature of a heated basement or garage. Properly stored, they will remain fresh and delicious for up to two months.

9 thoughts on “Growing Jicama

  1. If the seeds vines leaves and flowers are poison, how can you not expect the vegetable to be poison?

    • Hi Deb,
      That is a great question, but their are no toxins in the roots of the plant. A lot of the vegetables that we eat have plant parts that are not very palatable for the mouth or the stomach. Veggies in the nightshade family are known for their unedible, toxic plant parts. -Danielle, Bonnie Plants

  2. I was unaware that the jicama leaves, etc…were poisonous before planting (nothing noted on the seed packet). When I read more about the veggie, I removed the seeds immediately.

    I planted thyme instead, but when watering today – I noticed that a small, newly growing jicama plant is under a portion of the herb. Should I prune the branches of my herb that have touched the jicama leaves or do they just require a good washing? Please help!

    • Hello Suzanne,
      Just wash the leaves off the thyme – if you do not want the jicama in the garden, you may want to dig it up. Leaves can be poisonous like vegetables in the nightshade family. – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

  3. We are snowbirds from British Columbia wintering in Yuma AZ. We are wanting to get seeds or whatever of jicama. We stpped at a roadside stand to talk to a grower about how to get seeds and he, in broken english, said to stick the jicama in the ground like a potatoe. Would we cut it up like you would the eyes on a potatoe?, or where can we obtain seeds. We will be leaving here to go home to B.C on the 12th of March so hopefully you can tell us where to purchase the seed or if we can just plant a jicama. Our email address in Canada is bcperry@telus.net.
    Thank-you Jean Perry

    • Hi Jean,
      Big difference in British Columbia and Yuma, AZ! We sell seedlings, or transplants, in 5″ pots and larger. To locate seed, you may do a quick web search and you see a few seed sources. We do not endorse one specific seller. Jicama takes a long growing season…about 150 days. If you would like to see if we are selling jicama seedlings in season in your area, contact Customer Service with your ZIP code information and we’d be happy to help.
      Happy Gardening,
      Danielle

    • Hi Fred,
      We sell seedlings, or transplants, in 5″ pots and larger. To find seed, do a quick web search and you will see a couple of sources appear. Since we don’t endorse one specific seller, I’ll avoid naming any specific links here. If you would like to see if we are selling jicama seedlings in season in your area, contact Customer Service with your ZIP code information and we’d be happy to help. Happy New Year, Mary Beth at Bonnie Plants

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